How I keep calm

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How have you been keeping calm during the pandemic? Carillon

Inspired by HeyAlma.com, How I keep calm is our new series featuring different ways students are finding peace and contentment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s better than having a Call of Duty (COD) squad during Covid-19? How about a family COD squad.

When I was about seven – almost 16 years ago – my dad, Dean Holoien, was in his prime as one of the world’s best fastball pitchers. He was often away competing in tournaments around the world and won numerous awards, and he still has whole crates of trophies and metals tucked away.

I was never much into sports, so the way we connected was largely through movies and video games. We would play NHL together on our Playstation 2, but the best times were when we played computer games — Empires Dawn of the Modern World, Age of Mythologies, Rise of Nations, and Age of Empires II. Some of my best childhood memories involve playing these games, connected between our upstairs and downstairs computers.

Throughout my life, my family and I have loved games: card games, board games, console games – so much so that I won an Xbox One in a gaming tournament when I was in high school for a game I did not even play: Halo 4. I gave the reward to a friend who did not yet have a system of his own.

My dad and I would play Civilization 5 together, along with Black Ops on our Xbox 360s. But eventually we both became busier with work and school. The four years of getting my first degree at Briercrest College were some of the hardest years of my life. The expectations and the school’s emphasis on assignments is often noted by students as being like nowhere else.

With my Humanities degree I did what many college grads do – got a job that requires no degree at all. I became a full-time photographer, working with my wife, Shannon. Rockbamboo Photo & Film is the name of our business, and we had wedding clients lined up for every weekend prior to COVID. But when the pandemic hit, almost everything was rescheduled for the next year.

This left me with a whole lot of free time. My family members were all at their own homes as well in the early spring, as the pandemic was spreading in Canada. So we did what was natural to us: my dad bought a new Xbox One, my brother-in-law purchased a massive television so he could sit side-by-side with my sister and game — and I bought toilet paper at Costco.

We created a regiment on Call of Duty Warzone. There were five of us total: my dad, my brother-in-law, my sister, her husband, and me. 

I think a collective COVID coma was responsible, but we gamed for many nights in a row. With all that time available and not much to do other than wait and avoid social settings, we grouped up and even secured a win on Battle Royale Squads in quads mode with my sister using a light machine gun for the final kill — a real noob move, Sid.

This is how we stayed calm. Even though the conversations streaming through our headsets sounded more like seagulls at the beach, we were together and for a while, COVID was no longer a worry.

We still game together at times, and it helps us shift our focus out of the real world.

And the conversations you hear online as well with strangers that find out that you are gaming with your dad can be hilarious. I have even heard one person say directly, “I wish my dad gamed with me. That’s dope.”

It most certainly is. 

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