Split-Screen 2016

Split-Screen 2016

The simple joy of playing together.
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In our modern world of constant online connectivity, where the latest tech keeps us in contact despite distances that once divided us, sometimes we forget how disconnected we really are.

Video games have been a major presence in my family's household since I was little. Though my parents have no interest in them whatsoever, my brothers and I have been spelunking in virtual worlds for as long as I can remember. We jumped aboard the online bandwagon pretty late, spending most of our time playing single-player or, as many kids used to do, sharing a cramped television set to play together.

The Nintendo 64, Sony's classic PlayStation 2, and the original Xbox were all staples of our collective childhood. Oftentimes arguments over who got to play next would be solved by our mother or grandmother giving us the exasperated ultimatum to play together or not at all. Whether it was playing against one another in "Donkey Kong 64" and "James Bond 007: Nightfire," or cooperatively in "Halo: Combat Evolved," we spent a great deal of time with the television set split into separate viewpoints.

As we've grown up and tech has improved we've each gotten our own TVs and game systems. We rarely, if ever, play games together. New games or consoles coming out will still send us into an excited chatter with one another, but experiencing them together isn't quite so common. So, when I came home for Thanksgiving and found my brother shoving a PlayStation 4 controller in my hand to play a few rounds of "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" and the newest instalment of the Zombies game type in "Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare," I also found myself relaxing more than I had in a long time. There was a familiar comfort to it, even though I hadn't played a "Call of Duty" game in years and found out how bad I'd gotten, something felt weirdly right. I quickly fell back into old patterns of playfully trading insults and desperately asking for help as we battled one another and worked together for several hours of the night. I often tend to prefer more solitary gaming experiences, journeying alone through whatever world the designers created for their players, but moments like these have the ability to feel special far more easily than playing alone.

While it isn't something that crosses my mind very often experiences like this bring a rush of youthful nostalgia that clears my head of the things that normally trouble a millennial college student with anxiety. It takes all the gunk of ever expanding adulthood and washes it off to reveal slivers of the childish joys underneath. Split-screen gaming may have fallen out of style since the dawn of online gaming, but that certainly does not mean that it has lost its worth. Many modern games lack the option to split the screen up like the old days (as unnecessarily grizzled as that may sound), but when one does it allows itself more versatility and intimacy.

Cover Image Credit: Redbull.com

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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New Technology Has Forever Changed The Way We Live Life And It's Mostly A Good Thing

The convenience and knowledge that our technology provides literally at our fingertips is unparalleled in history.

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It's no question that social media has impacted our culture tremendously and shifted the way we live our lives. We are living through one of the greatest technological revolutions in history and communication hasn't been changed this drastically since the invention of the printing press. We spend every day connected through texting, email, Facetime, social media and the internet. Technology provides enough convenience that we could hypothetically never leave our homes. Entertainment is available for streaming, food can be ordered to our doors using simple apps and everything from clothing to furniture can be shipped to our houses in under a week.

Is this constant tuning in and continuous connection good, is it bad, or is it simply a massive shift we need to adjust to? I'm not sure that there is one answer.

In our culture, smartphones are almost a necessity in order to optimize success. Jobs require constant emailing, classes are shifting to online, social media is one of the most major marketing tools you can employ and people expect you to always respond ASAP.

Before smartphones relationships were conducted in person, through letters, and over an occasional phone call. Now, with the invention of the text message the expectations of relationships have changed. People expect their significant other to always be there, ready to text back at almost any hour of the day. Friends who don't reply to text messages are labeled as self-absorbed and rude. Not receiving something as simple as a like on Instagram has major connotations for the way someone feels about you.

A lot of this connectedness is good. Positive social interaction leads to a happier life and feeling closely connected to your friends, family, and partners can be a really good thing. You don't really have to ever be alone and if you need something, someone is always there. The internet is an incredible database that anyone with wifi or cellular connection can access.

Educational materials can be found online and the information is not only kept in books that may be inaccessible to some people due to the sophistication of language or lack of copies. YouTube has millions of videos breaking down the most complex topics in the simplest ways. Technology allows us to listen to music all the time and have the ability to watch more movies than ever before. Our apps keep us updated on news, as long as we have the sense to fact check and avoid believing click bate.

As with everything, technology also has its pitfalls. The ability to be anonymous online makes users of technology bold, enabling them to say things they would never say to someone face. Constantly communicating over a screen can hinder our abilities to communicate in person. Being a bully online is easy, and suicide rates have gone up thirty-three percent since 1999, a time block that aligns suspiciously with the rise of new technology. People's perfectly curated social media pages inaccurately represent the complexity of their lives and seem picture perfect to struggling viewers.

Negative thoughts about one's own life can be worsened when constantly exposed to visuals that seem to suggest everyone else has it all figured out. The internet can feel deceptively safe, like a void where you can say anything with no consequences and still feel like people are listening to you. People my age tend to use their fake Instagrams, "finstas" as diaries. They spill their feelings to their followers and post photos and videos that could have negative effects on their future.

It's also questionable whether it's good to always be connected, to never have time alone, unplugged, away from the cyber world. Some people even want to call our obsession with smartphones an addiction. While I see and acknowledge the negative effects of our revolutionary technological world, I also can't dismiss the benefits. The convenience and knowledge that our technology provides literally at our fingertips is unparalleled in history.

It is changing, but change isn't always bad.

I think that we haven't had the chance to adjust to how fast we've created so many new things. In order to minimize the negatives aspects of technology, our society is going to have to undergo a massive change that reframes the way we view life, what we teach students, how we act from day to day and how we interact with one another.

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