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Animal Crossing was huge on Tumblr in 2020 — but so were a bunch of other unexpected games

Based on the top trends, people were drawn to connection and nostalgia

an Animal Crossing: New Horizons player shows off their house Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Hari Conner
Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Tumblr’s year-end trend round-ups capture what movies, shows, and video games users on the platform buzzed about the most. While 2020 has been a weird year, some of the top ranking video games, video game characters, and anime and manga are basically a given, a few unexpected additions on the list reveal a year in which people craved connection and nostalgia.

It is perhaps no surprise that Animal Crossing: New Horizons tops the gaming list. The cozy, feel-good game came out right as the world bunkered down for the coronavirus pandemic. Tumblr’s trend expert Amanda Brennan tells Polygon that Animal Crossing’s approachability — as well as the social connection involved — really made it a perfect game for a year turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

Animal Crossing has really transcended the traditional gaming community to see people who might not have ever picked up a video game just be like, Oh, I’m interested in this, because it’s a way that I can connect, I can make this island,” Brennan explains.

Taking the number two spot on the games list is Among Us. The straightforward hidden role game has a very vibrant community on Tumblr. It’s another approachable game that’s easy to get into — and because Among Us is such a blank slate, people create whole universes around the simple characters and plot, with fan art and comics.

“That is just the beauty of why people come to Tumblr to build their head cannons and build the worlds that they want to see,” says Brennan.

Among Us Image: InnerSloth

Overwatch, which dominated the list in previous years, took a hard fall. But Brennan says that has less to do with the fandom faltering and more to do with the fact that the surge of other games — especially games with a focus on creation, like Minecraft and Sims 4, as well as familiar older games that offer replayability.

“I think this year specifically is people just looking for comfort and nostalgia and replaying games because they know what’s going to happen,” said Brennan. “You know what the storyline is, you’re looking for that anchor to keep you together — especially with character-driven games.”

The top 2020 games, according to Tumblr users

  1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  2. Among Us
  3. Pokemon Sword And Shield
  4. Undertale
  5. Minecraft
  6. Sims 4
  7. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  8. Danganronpa
  9. Overwatch
  10. Persona 5

When it comes to the mobile, games with a focus on love and romance always trend on Tumblr — and this year Obey Me! Shall We Date?, an otome game where players can romance a choice of hot demons, took the crown.

“Who wouldn’t want a hot demon sliding into their DMs?” says Brennan.

Brennan says that Tumblr users are drawn to story-driven, character-focused mobile games, though amidst those more plot-heavy titles comes endless runner, Cookie Run. The vibrant graphics of Cookie Run — as well as the cute character designs — help it reach the same heights as Obey Me, Choices, and the Arcana.

The top 2020 mobile games, according to Tumblr users

  1. Obey Me! Shall We Date?
  2. Choices
  3. Twisted Wonderland
  4. The Arcana — A Story of Mystery and Romance
  5. Cookie Run
  6. Mystic Messenger
  7. Fire Emblem Heroes
  8. Ikemen Vampire
  9. Arknights
  10. Azur Lane

Two romanceable characters from Obey Me! led the list of most popular video game characters, with nostalgic figures like Tom Nook, Link, and Sans rounding it out. In a time when people might not be getting a lot of real life romantic interaction, why not try a dating sim?

The top 2020 characters, according to Tumblr users

  1. Obey Me Lucifer
  2. Obey Me Mammon
  3. Tom Nook
  4. Link
  5. Sans
  6. Cloud Strife
  7. Dandelion
  8. Kirby
  9. Raihan
  10. Arthur Morgan

Is it any surprise that out of the Animal Crossing villagers Raymond took the crown? Certainly not on Tumblr.

Raymond the cat sits in a cat bed in Animal Crossing while reading a book. Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

“It’s the glasses,” Brennan says. “There’s something about that broody glasses nerdy but also, cleaned up... it’s exactly what Tumblr likes.”

The top Animal Crossing villagers, according to Tumblr

  1. Raymond
  2. Marshal
  3. Poppy
  4. Fauna
  5. Julian
  6. Claude
  7. Marina
  8. Stitches
  9. Bob
  10. Ankha

Tumblr’s top anime and manga don’t come as huge surprises. Boku no Hero Academia reigns supreme (again), while other popular shows with new seasons — like Haikyuu!! and Fruits Basket — snagged spots on the list. Mo Dao Zu Shi, the animated series based on the novel that popular Chinese television series The Untamed is based on, also ranks.

Perhaps most surprisingly is 19 Days, a Chinese webcomic about four teen boys. Tumblr brand designer Jasmine Ho explains that the fandom is centered on two main ships.

“We typically include Chinese webcomics on our anime list because both stylistically and fandom-wise, they’re most similar to manga,” she says.

hinata hitting a volleyball Image: Sentai Filmworks

The top anime and manga, according to Tumblr

  1. Boku no Hero Academia
  2. Haikyuu!!
  3. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
  4. Beastars
  5. Naruto
  6. Mo Dao Zu Shi
  7. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  8. One Piece
  9. Fruits Basket
  10. 19 Days