Growing up in Toronto, Edmonton Oilers forward Zach Hyman and his four younger brothers bonded over games—basketball, soccer, and ball hockey outside, ice hockey at local arenas, and whatever Mario or Super Smash Bros. game was on the console hooked up to the family TV.
In 2011, when he was 19, Hyman left home to play hockey at the University of Michigan. Now if he wanted to bond with his brothers, it was via phone, text, and email. His youngest brother was 8, which made that sort of communication a challenge. Then Hyman discovered long-distance gaming.
“Instead of talking on the phone for five minutes, we’d sit there with headsets on and play three hours of video games and just talk about whatever—everything,” Hyman recalls.
It was a revelation, what he describes as an “aha” moment. Gaming could be more than sitting in a basement with your brothers; it could connect you even when you were hundreds of miles away.
Today, gaming is more than just a fun way to [...]