MetalFRO's Blog

Posted on Dec 12th 2021 at 01:00:00 PM by (MetalFRO)
Posted under Christmas, Gaming, tradition

Growing up as a child in the 80's, I recall a few stories from friends and classmates about the video game goodies they got to open at their family Christmas celebrations. It was always fun to hear what they got, in part because I knew I would probably get a chance to play some of those games soon enough, when I could go over to their house. Sometimes it was high praise for the game or console that mom & dad (or grandparents) bought them, and occasionally it was complaints that they got a game they thought was "lame" or that they had already thoroughly played via rentals or borrowing from friends. Typically, I was more than a little jealous, since I never got gaming stuff for Christmas. My first game system was the Game Boy at age 12, and I didn't get my own console until I was 14, and I had to buy it (and the TV it hooked to) myself. So I had to live vicariously through others, reveling in their new acquisitions as best I could from afar.

For me, the only game console I got as a Christmas gift was my Wii U, in 2013. At the time, I knew it was coming, though what I wasn't expecting was that it was given to me kind of early. I don't recall any other games I've been gifted for Christmas, outside the RF Generation Secret Santa over the last several years. Otherwise, this idea of opening up gaming stuff on Christmas has been largely foreign to me. I like the idea of getting gaming stuff for Christmas, but unless my friends and family have the link to my RF Generation Collection, they're not likely to find me something I don't already have, unless it's new. Even then, it's a roll of the dice.

I know there's a segment of folks who have Christmas gaming traditions. Whether it's replaying that childhood favorite game they got as a Christmas gift years ago, or just playing a game that they associate with Christmastime, I've heard a number of stories over the years. I haven't had any traditions of gaming on Christmas Day, or right around there, because usually I'm not at home, and don't have access to my gaming stuff, outside of a handheld. If I get a chance to game on Christmas, it's usually late in the day, when I'm home, and have no responsibilities. This year, I won't even be home until the day after Christmas, and even then, it will probably not be until late evening.

All of this to say that I'm thinking about starting a Christmas gaming tradition. I'm not sure it will happen this year, as I said, being out of town and not having much opportunity to game. But perhaps in the time surrounding Christmas, I can do something. I haven't decided yet what I want to do. I could go with the easy approach and finally play Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams, or maybe apply a Christmas-themed DOOM mod, or something like that. I've also thought about just replaying an old favorite, or using that time to discover a new game, like I try to do on New Year's Day. Or should I play a game in my collection that I know is objectively terrible, in the Christmas spirit of being thankful for what I have? Or do I hook up the 2600 to a CRT, and play through a few games I enjoyed at my childhood next door neighbor's house? many choices.

I find it a little odd that I've never created my own Christmas gaming tradition, but I guess I've just never been home during that time, enough to consider doing something. As I get older, however, I long for the simpler times, and have the nostalgic pull toward games that spark that pure joy, the way they often did when I was a kid. The more cynical the world becomes, the more we long to escape. And while I can't escape completely, these sorts of traditions and rituals help us stay grounded. They keep us centered, remind us of what's important, and connect us with good memories from days past. We all need a little of that now, given the state of the world, and I certainly need it right now.

So now I turn to you. Tell me about your Christmas gaming traditions! Maybe some of your stories will inspire me, and help spark some ideas for me. I'm eager to hear about the different games, systems, or ways you play on or around Christmas. I don't always feel like I'm channeling the "Christmas spirit" every December, but I'd like to say I try. Hopefully, everyone reading this has a little of their own to offer a weary gamer who just has a lot on his plate and needs a little holiday cheer.

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When I was a kid we would go to my grandparents on my mom's side for Christmas Eve.  They had an Atari 2600 we would play.  We would cycle through Stampede, Combat, Frogs 'N Flies, Yar's Revenge, and many others.  In addition to that we would play pool and sometimes cards.  And then Santa would come.  Once I had my NES, I would get some NES games.  We would get home at about 11pm and Santa had come to our house.  I would get some more games and some awesome He-Man toys! I'd stay up to probably 2am, falling asleep on the living room floor most of the years. 

The following morning, on Christmas day, we would go to my grandparents on my dad's side at about 9am so I didn't really get to play my shiny new NES games yet.  At my grandparents we would find out what games my cousins got and play some Commodore 64 games and run around and be noisy kids.  Once we got home about 6pm, I could finally start Christmas vacation and play my new games.  So many memories from back when I was a kid.

Nowadays, I have so much responability and I can pretty much buy any game I want that I don't exactly have anything to look forward to or anything special.  And constantly being busy and having adult things to do just... I don't know. It's not the same.  I often think about those days and wanting to go back to those.  I wish I could.  I had so much to look forward for and felt really special and exciting.  Maybe it's just me that feels that way.  I know this is not what you are looking for but it got me thinking about those times and how much I love them.

Great write up, as usual, and I can't wait for more from you.
@shaggy: I really appreciate your response, and I know what you mean. I think Christmastime in particular brings out the nostalgia in a lot of us, and has many of us (myself included) longing for simpler times. Sounds like you had quite a whirlwind of family Christmas celebrations as a kid! I usually just had 2, one with my dad's side of the family, and then on my mom's side, it was the smaller celebration, and there we got gifts from grandparents, uncle, and parents. Those were always fun, because my uncle was single most of that time, so he spoiled my brother and I with amazing gifts. Thanks for the kind words, and I'm glad you enjoyed the article!
Loads of memories of all the cousins playing N64/GameCube on Christmas night during the family dinner. I now try to play winter/Christmas games during December with my own kids now. 1080 Snowboarding/Diddy Kong Racing and stuff like Banjo-Kazooie are all on board for such themed gaming.
I think a lot of the nostalgia we have of Christmas as adults is that when we were kids/younger we didn't really have to worry about anything behind the scenes, and we just witnessed the exciting parts of Christmas, i.e. the presents, the decorations, lights, food/treats, etc., while are parents worked hard to make everything happen. There was nothing more exciting than opening up that game or toy that you talked your parents ears off about for the past month, to hopefully plant the seeds and have it show up Christmas morning. I still ask for a game or two every year to kind of capture that nostalgia, while the rest of my gifts are more practical/useful in my adult life. This year I asked for a copy of Ghost of Tsushima for the PS5, and while it would be nice to get that game this year, if I don't that's okay too. I can just order it online myself and have it show up in a couple days.
@Link41: Nice! Hopefully you're building good memories with your kids playing those games together on Christmas Smiley

@Mr_Stubbes: As much as I would love to get games for Christmas, outside of the Secret Santa here at RFG, unless I told people specifically which game(s) to get, I would almost certainly get either a game I have no interest in, something I already have, or something I can't play because it would be for a console I don't own yet (like PS5 or Xbox Series) Tongue
@Mr_Stubbes:  That is so true about not having to worry about the adult responibility and just being a kid.  I also miss going through the Sears and J.C. Penney catalogs and making my Christmas list and circling items I wanted.  It was so awesome seeing all them video games in the catalogs.  Man, I wish them catalogs were still around.  I love watching videos of people going throw the video game sections in those old catalogs.
@shaggy: Yes! I did a column for Christmas a couple years ago about the Sears Wish Books, and how I used to flip through them endlessly at my grandparents' house.

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