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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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?
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In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

Cover Image Credit: NewsOK

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I Regained My Humanity After Deleting My Social Media Accounts

I know it may sound crazy, but I promise it's refreshing.
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I’ll admit, I’m pretty old school when it comes to technology (or almost anything in life in general), but I’ve had it with social media.

I’ve been spending too much time scrolling down a screen to keep up with other people’s lives. I spend more time checking up on posts of girls showing off their boobs or ass and feeling insecure about my own body instead of looking at myself in the mirror and appreciating myself for who I am.

I spend more time scrolling through strangers' profiles to see what they do and what their interests are instead of doing things that actually bring me pleasure and knowledge, like reading the book that has been waiting for me on my nightstand for months.

I spend more time taking pictures of the scenery around me for my streaks rather than looking up and actually enjoying the view for myself.

So I did it. For these reasons and many others, I deleted my social media (the ones I am completely addicted to, at least). And yes, I will admit that these past two days have indeed been hard. I’m constantly being tested by the Universe in having to find entertainment from activities that do not involve stalking strangers' lives or relying on my phone.

I have so much time on my hands now that I’m actually kind of bored. I wake up to no notifications on my phone except for some regarding school, I start my homework and finish it in three hours instead of the usual five to six hours, I finally picked up that book sitting on my nightstand and started reading it (I’m on page 73 in just one day), and I even have time to stare at the blue sky and admire the trees. I’ve become a total responsible philosopher in just two days.

I also have free time when I’m on the shuttle on my way to and from school. I just sit there and have nothing to do. So today, I decided to read and acknowledge the people beside me. I smile at the guy sitting across from me and the girl that walks in, but of course, they must think I’m being a total creep, because that’s what our generation has labeled those who smile and are trying to be kind: a creep. I don’t really care though, I’m just content because I’m starting to feel human again. After so many years of investing my time on superficial accounts, I’m taking the time to greet and look at the real people sitting right beside me.

I’ll be honest, I’m not so sure how long this rebellion of mine is going to last, but so far, these two past days have been refreshing. I’m enjoying the free time to do the things I say I never have time for. I’m also kind of relieved that people don’t know my every move or my location (that should be what’s creepy, not me smiling at people just to be polite). I like having more time for myself to write, read, reflect, cook, go to the gym, and just live. Plus, I think my eyes are appreciating the rest from not staring at the horrible phone screen all day.

Cover Image Credit: Fancycrave

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