These are the words that resonate with many gamers, as a one-hour session stretches into the late hours of the night.
With the onset of COVID-19, we have been forced to find entertainment within the confines of our homes, and one of the most enticing entertainment activities this past year has been gaming.
Here are some of the standouts from this past year.
The Animal Crossing craze swept the continent last year, as evidenced by the Nintendo Switch shortages in March. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a life simulation game where the player is given complete freedom to modify their home and island to their heart’s content — a jolly escape from the early dog days of lockdown.
I think it’s popularity is because it manages to blend the social aspects of multiplayer gaming with the personal customization of a single-player experience.
I can personally attest to this widespread appeal. I witnessed friends who normally would not game gleefully sharing photos of their handcrafted islands on social media.
The battle royale version of Call of Duty, simply dubbed Warzone, also took the gaming community by storm in March 2020.
Outsmarting 24 other squads of four players to be the last team standing — or 99 other players if you’re brave enough to play solo lobbies — provides an adrenaline rush like no other, especially when the clock is ticking and the final circle seems to be shrinking endlessly.
The enticing gameplay loop along with quick matches made this one a favourite among my friends and I.
Many people from around the world also wanted to keep playing to claim that elusive win. While Call of Duty has been the dominant multiplayer shooter for years, consistently topping best-seller lists this past decade, Warzone catapulted the franchise to new heights, as millions of players logged on to seek their first victory royale. On the popular streaming platform Twitch, the game peaked at 519,000 viewers on release day.
The summer brought along another stellar offering in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, a game that was released for free on Playstation Plus in August 2020. Being an avid PlayStation user myself, I just had to see what the craze was all about, and it did not disappoint.
It filled the gap in online competitive party games. The premise is simple, players control a jelly bean and compete against 59 other jelly beans in increasingly difficult challenges. Much like Warzone, Fall Guys peaked at over 708,000 viewers on Twitch during its release month.
Sprinting to the finish line while jumping over see-saws, all the while tumbling over other jelly beans, is a delight that cannot be properly conveyed with words.
I didn’t get the elusive winner crown myself, falling to my death on the hexagone stage far too many times to count, but I can still say that these gaming sessions with my friends were some of the best parts of an otherwise abnormal summer.
I would be remiss if I recounted my gaming experiences and did not mention the biggest phenomenon of 2020, Among Us.
The game originally came out in 2018, but did not explode in popularity until the summer of 2020, thanks to popular Twitch streamers like sodapoppin, xQc and DisguisedToast streaming the game with their friends.
Among Us is akin to an online version of the game Mafia. Players must complete tasks aboard a spaceship while simultaneously trying to weed out the secret killers among their crewmates. I must say, one of the highlights was falsely accusing my friends of being the impostors and getting away with it.
I think that the game’s global popularity can be attributed to its simple premise and low barrier of entry, being accessible from smartphones and computers. The game is so captivating that it truly penetrated the “gamer bubble” and ended up attracting many different people who otherwise would not touch online games.
Even Canadian Member of Parliament Jagmeet Singh and United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined in on the fun.
If I were handing out awards, I believe Among Us has been the best online simulation of a large group game, one which remains fresh no matter how many times you have played it.
While there are many more games than the ones I mentioned here, each providing hours of enjoyment to their respective audiences, it is clear that online games are an awesome social activity.
The rise of free multiplayer games lessens the monotony of pandemic life and attempts to bridge that six-foot gap that we still cannot overcome physically, with a little bit of fun.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a reply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Uday Chinna is a second-year undergraduate student studying physiology and pharmacology.