Split-Screen 2016

Split-Screen 2016

The simple joy of playing together.

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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Why Sims 4 Is Better Than Therapy

No mom, I'm not wasting my time. I'm planning my life.

If you've ever felt like you've lost control of your life, you can fix that problem for a low fee of $20, by investing in one of my favorite casual games: The Sims 4. Starting off as a simple simulation game, this platform has evolved into a place where people can create unique storylines and almost lead second lives. Because it allows players to control an entire town of people, regulating everything from emotions to hobbies to professions, most people find satisfaction in knowing that every single one of those pixelated humans' lives are in their hands.

When I started playing the Sims, I created a young adult with my likeness, and used my starter budget to buy a small plot of land where I built my first house from scratch- an accomplishment that sent my Sim into debt, ultimately killing her ability to find a partner, which left her living in the local park and eating hot dogs until she died from an overdose of soda. (See, unhealthy sugars CAN kill you).

My second try was more successful- I created an overweight man (it would take longer for him to die of starvation) who was a bit of a nerd, but still charismatic. Long story short, Benson Olson lived a long and peaceful life, ultimately succumbing to old age. From that moment on, I knew I how to maneuver the game properly- and the rewards were so satisfying.

I was able to decide fates, but the game forced me to stay organized. Fathering too many children or going to work too often was often a cause of stress for my Sims, so I learned how to balance their needs while still having fun. The level of patience it takes to play the Sims is crazy- relationships take time to build and sometimes they don't work out too well.

That's where cheats come in handy. The developers of the SIms 4 actually encourage users to use cheats, giving users the ability Sims millionaires in less than a minute, or to force relationships between NPCs, no matter how compatible they may be.

I've often found that naming Sims after people in my life, then making their lives hell has been another benefit of the game- you can totally mess with them by starting a fire in their house, or tipping over trashcans until you're banished. Some of my friends have even requested to become part of my households- in the form of pets, because they're too scared to be 'humans' in my unpredictable Sim worlds.

Overall, the Sims 4 may seem like a timewaster, but the way this game stretches the creative bubble is both beneficial and therapeutic.




Cover Image Credit: WIndows Central

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Apple Music Versus Spotify

Which music app reigns supreme?

I recently went through an internal struggle; wanting to stay loyal to apple music with the draw of Spotify including Hulu in their package slowly pulling me in. I had to go based off of my friends' recommendations of both music streaming apps, although they tended to be a bit biased. It was time I tested both for myself and finally settled on the best one. Both get the job done, but there are surely pros and cons for each.

Music Variety

When it comes to this category, Spotify reigns supreme. The app features a lot more remixes than Apple Music does, and I feel as though I’m exposed to tons of new music. Of course this category isn’t terribly important, as you could download any song from the internet and upload it to either app.

Storage

Every iPhone comes with iTunes, so why download another app for music when you’re trying to save space? This was one of the issues I had with Spotify in the first place, it required me to download the app on my phone as well as the program on my computer. My mac already comes with iTunes, but I guess this isn’t such a problem for Android and PC users.

Packages

Spotify definitely wins this round, a normal membership now comes with access to a basic Hulu account! If you’re a student, this means only $5 a month for both services! It’s basically a dream come true.

Shuffle

Random, but this is something that I have noticed as a difference between Spotify and Apple Music. Spotify’s shuffle is significantly less shuffled than Apple Music’s. I find that when I press shuffle on Spotify I constantly hear songs by the same artist a bunch of times in a row, while I never encounter this problem with Apple.

Organization

Apple Music is more organized than Spotify is. On Apple Music, I can choose to arrange my playlists, however, I like based on artist, date added, or even song title. I can do this on Spotify too, but only from my computer. On the app, my music is always organized by date added, which is not my first choice. It’s a small problem, but one I definitely took notice of.

Discover Weekly

One of the great things about Spotify is the personalized playlists it makes every week- and they’re pretty good! Apple Music doesn’t really have anything similar to this, which is a shame and a half.

Radio

Both of these apps have their own version of “radio” services, where you can create a radio station based off of a song, artist, or album. Spotify seems to always been spouting out new songs by the hundreds, even if you’re not sure how some of them made it on the radio playlist. Apple Music seems to play the same few songs on repeat, and keep them the same for everyone. So both apps have their downsides here, but Spotify definitely shows more diversity and gives more songs chances to shine.

My honest opinion: you can’t go wrong with either of these apps. Both have high-quality music with almost unlimited options that are easy to use. I personally use Spotify, but it was mostly because of the Hulu promotion (definitely worth it by the way). I’ve tried both, used both for a few months, and this is my consensus. No matter what you use, happy listening!

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