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.