VANCOUVER -- Jesse Ringrose and Jason Ennis have been friends since they grew up across the street from each other in Squamish.

“Right in our backyards was the forest, as far as the eye could see,” described Ringrose.

The duo started up a game company called RAC7 and used their childhood surroundings as inspiration for a game called “Sneaky Sasquatch,” which has just been named Arcade Game of the Year by Apple.

Gamers play as the titular character, who wanders through forests and campgrounds, steals picnic baskets, evades rangers, and eventually dons a human disguise to infiltrate human society. The goal of the game is to avoid getting caught.

What’s special about the game, however, is how Ringrose and Ennis have incorporated some iconic British Columbian experiences, such as driving the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, or taking a ferry to Vancouver Island.

“We sort of distilled a lot of those experiences down and put them in our game,” Ringrose said, “so if Sasquatch wants to go skiing, you actually have to drive on a stretch of this nice, winding highway.”

The award from Apple arrived a few days ago, and Ringrose said they were not allowed to open it, until a designated time, during a virtual ceremony with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Tech analyst Rene Ritchie says while it’s not uncommon for Canadians to win such awards, it is rare for Canadians who have stayed independent or haven’t gone to the United States.

“They did it by staying and being a Canadian company, and delivering a game…true to Canadian ideas and locations and spirit,” Ritchie said. “I think that is rare and more interesting.”

Millions of people have fallen in love with “Sneaky Sasquatch,” and Ringrose is revelling in the photos sent to him by fans of the game, young and old.

There are custom birthday cakes, crafts, pillowcases, and homemade Halloween costumes. More importantly, Ringrose said fans are letting him know that the game has helped them get through an incredibly tough year.

“It’s amazing,” he said. "It’s also very validating just to hear that you’re making an impact in so many kids' and families' lives.”

He added that especially earlier on this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some kids couldn’t really get outside and have a normal childhood experience, “but they could get a little bit of that in our game, in a way. We were lending them a slice of our own upbringing, and what it’s like to grow up in Squamish in the early '90s.”