Sophomore Nina Dym pulls out her phone and begins playing an app, an app that will soon be played by everyone in the room.
First it was Angry Birds, then it was Temple Run, then Flappy Bird, and now, for the sophomores, it’s Disney’s Tsum Tsum.
Tsum Tsum started as an app in Japan in 2013, becoming available in the U.S. one year later. To use the app, users sign in with Japan’s most used social network: LINE.
The game garnered so much fame (14 million downloads in Japan) that Disney sells Tsum Tsum plushies, gummies, tissue paper, pillows, towels and more.
The name comes from the Japanese verb tsumu meaning “to stack.”
The name translates literally to the objective of the game: to connect as many tsums, or Disney characters, as possible within the given amount of time to earn a high score, coins and experience.
The amount of time varies but is usually one minute, depending on whether a player also gets bonus time.
Sophomore Atsuo Chiu was the first to discover the game after his friends from Japan told him about it via LINE.
Dym also learned of the game during the summer of 2014, when a Japanese friend visited her.
“It’s fun because you’re playing with characters that you know well from the Disney movies,” Dym said.
After collecting enough coins, the player can purchase a happiness box (10,000 coins) or premium box (30,000 coins) to get a character.
“Each character has its own special ability, which makes it more desirable to collect them all,” Dym said.
Dym said her favorite is Birthday Anna, from the movie “Frozen,” because she’s her strongest character.
“I tried finding a better character, but she continues to be the best,” Dym said.
In the fall of 2014, Dym introduced other sophomores to the game.
One of the rules of Tsum Tsum is that players lose a heart every time they play.
The heart can be replaced after 15 minutes. However, the game will let a player have only five hearts at once.
Once the player runs out of hearts, they can’t play.
However, players who friend other competitors can gift hearts, thereby extending play time. Another feature of friending is adding that person to a personal leaderboard that ranks friended players based on highest single-game point value.
So what makes Tsum Tsum so competitive? Friendly rivalry in the form of weekly results.
Players compete with friends for the highest score by the end of the week. Those in the top three receive virtual coins.
Sophomore Carlos Nuñez is one of the most competitive players on the app.
In the beginning, Nuñez tried to beat Dym. But his competitor changed once Dym reached 5,576,121.
“(Now) I’m most competitive with (junior) Anny Schmidt because her score (3,063,266) is close to mine,” Nuñez said.
The freshmen, on the other hand, are currently obsessed with the game Running Fred, available on computers.
The player takes the role of Fred as he tries to jump, dodge and evade traps in a castle.
The freshmen first started playing the game around three months ago, when freshmen Ben Miner and Nate Jakobs discovered it.
Unlike in the other grades, no single video game has swept the junior class. Some play Clash of Clans, while others play sports games such as FIFA.
According to many juniors, the only game that the class has enjoyed playing as a whole is Trivia Crack.
In Trivia Crack users compete against friends on topics such as entertainment, art, sports, history, science and geography.
The senior class currently enjoys 2048, a game that used to be popular throughout the high school.
2048 was first downloadable in March 2014.
The objective of the game is to slide numbered tiles on a grid to add them and create one tile with the number 2048.
The game is playable on both computer and phone, which makes it easy to access.
One of the most addicted users is senior Jenny Kerbs.
“I don’t really know why I like it,” Kerbs said. “When I think about it, it seems so juvenile and something that a lower schooler would play to learn multiplication.”
Kerbs said she first learned of the game after watching fellow senior Julia Owaidat play it a few months ago.
“I would watch her for 10 minutes at a time, and then I thought ‘What am I doing? I’ll just play it myself,’” Kerbs said.
But the seniors say that Emma Belliveau is their most addicted classmate.
“It’s a habit,” Belliveau said. “I play it subconsciously.”
Belliveau compared her obsession to others’ obsession with Netflix.
“Many people are obsessed with Netflix, and they become distracted when doing homework,” Belliveau said. “2048 is my version of Netflix.”
When asked how many times she has made it to 2048, Belliveau said “trillions of times.”
“It’s rare that I don’t get to 2048,” Belliveau said. “If the game had cost money, it would’ve been worth every penny.”
—By Ulises Barajas