"Animal crossing is a political hypothesis about how a different kind of world might work Dash with no losers" – Bogost

Writer Ian Bogost is in typical top form in his Atlantic review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. He says "Animal Crossing is a political hypothesis about how a different kind of world might work—one with no losers. Millions of people already have spent hours in the game stewing on that idea since the coronavirus crisis began."

[In the United States], capitalism and pastoralism are often seen as opposing forces. So, too, personal benefit and collective good.

This goes all the way back to John Locke, who held that individuals had a right to turn natural resources that belonged to no one into individual property for personal use, through labor. The Lockean idea justified all manner of accomplishments and violations in American history, including the colonial seizure of Native lands and the justification of resource extraction via the efficiencies of industry. In the nation that grew from those assumptions, the accrual of wealth became incompatible with a return to the land. Agrarianism forked into factory farming on the one hand or farm-to-table luxury on the other. And pastoralism never really got a foothold in America as it did in England or Japan: Land was so plentiful that its survival was taken for granted.

But according to the Tom Nook doctrine, pastoralism and capitalism coexist perfectly. You can fish for high-value red snappers and sell them to buy espadrilles for your character, or 1950s-diner furnishings for your house. Or you can fish for never-before-seen specimens, to donate them to the museum. Or you can cast a line just to enjoy watching the moon dance across the water. All of these activities are interchangeable and equally delightful. Animal Crossing sees no greater or lesser virtue in one than another.