Image Credit: patreon.com/langxing
Happy holidays, everyone! The war on Christmas continues, thanks to all the video games threatening my wallet and free time. Personally, I feel attacked. Warfare is being waged upon my backlog, and it’s cold outside. What, did you think I was going to whine about millenials or something?
No, we’re here to talk about fun video game stuff. Christmas or other holiday themes often don’t find their way into video games. When they do, it’s usually the odd level here or there. But that doesn’t mean holiday cheer doesn’t come to gamers.
Here’s a list of awesome, funny, strange, or otherwise compelling events that saw the worlds of holiday cheer and video games collide.
We have to start this thing off with the official holiday gaming classic. Children reacting to exciting presents in theatric fashion is as common as pennies in random, public bodies of water. But there is one among them that has stood the test of time, endured across generations, and is still funny no matter how much time continues to pass. This child is so excited about his Nintendo 64 he has literally lost his mind, his brain cells have evacuated the premises, and he has been reduced to pure screaming id. The kid’s primal screeching is embued with the power of video games, and we love him for sharing his joy.
If N64 kid is one end of an extreme spectrum of video game hype, then Sega Kid rests on the polar opposite side. He’s clearly thrilled to unwrap his new Sega Mega Drive (Genesis for the non-European), and you can tell with the occasional moments he cracks a smile. But he’s so functionally wrecked by his video game hype that he just shuts down. He’s happy for a moment when he realizes what’s under the wrapping paper, then all the life drains from his face as he tries to comprehend all the blast processing ahead of him. I don’t know what it feels like to short circuit due to hype overload, but thanks to Sega Kid I know what it looks like.
Nintendo Switch Causes Emotional Collapse
This is the last gift opening reaction on this list, I promise. While the other two are funny, this one is just precious. Cranky old boomers love to whine about how ungrateful children today are, but here’s concrete evidence of how untrue that is. This kid was clearly not expecting a brand new gaming console, and you can see the bewilderment in his eyes when he unwraps a new video game in an unfamiliar case. Then when he gets to the bigger present, the magic happens. He tears the paper off, sees the Nintendo Switch box, and totally collapses, overwhelmed with emotion. Say what you will about materialism, but stuff like this rules.
The Rules of Engagement
The gaming community has always been a mess with all kinds of toxic behavior, especially sexism. So when a couple decides to make a social media joke that specifically targets confirmation bias, well, that’s an easy recipe for going viral. These folks took to Twitter on Christmas Eve with a brand new copy of Call of Duty: WWII . Dude was excited to squad up and defeat the Nazis, but his fun came with a cost: a list of rules from his girlfriend that restricted his game time and contractually bound him to maintain a relationship/military power fantasy balance. It was obviously fake, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from believing it was real and yelling at the girlfriend. Props to the couple for nailing this bit so well.
Seth Everman Throws a Christmas Tree
Seth Everman is one of my favorite YouTubers. He takes raw musical talent, the kind where a single person just knows how to play every instrument somehow, and turns it into the sort of bizarre, off-kilter humor that only works on YouTube. (It doesn’t appear often enough.) Some of his most popular videos are his video game music ones, in which he plays fake video game music that is cleverly written enough to make fun of real video games. One December, Seth dropped a new video that combined his style of humor with classic Christmas songs, and it all works quite well. This isn’t as much of an event or happening as the other entries here, but dang I love this video.
Overwatch Yule Log
A pseudo-ironic holiday tradition in my household is to play the Netflix yule log videos on loop for several hours at least one day during the holiday season. We aren’t really sure why, but it makes my wife and I pretty happy. There’s just something inherently quirky about the dry earnestness of the yule log in digital format. So when I learned that Blizzard made a yule log bit of its own and conned thousands of gamers into watching it on Twitch for several hours, it was an instant list-maker. Blizzard looped footage of Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan sitting in front of a fireplace for over nine hours, and literally nothing happened. They even faked a tease of the next hero at the time, but cut the feed off before even a tiny hint was given. Masterful troll work, Jeff.
Hackers Save Video Game Christmas
A few years ago, a hacker group known as the Lizard Squad was terrorizing the internet. Particularly, the group took credit for major outages in online gaming services like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. The group specialized in Denial of Service Attacks and was getting more and more ambitious. Eventually, they threatened to shut down all gaming services through Christmas, a time when service is already chugging due to everyone who gets new consoles.
The gaming community was legitimately worried, but a second band of hackers formed in order to fight back. The Finest Squad formed as a hacker group in direct opposition of the LizardSquad, and turned out to be way better at the whole hacking thing. All the Lizards’ identities were exposed, and FinestSquad members communicated vulnerabilities to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. It’s amazing what happens when people band together.
The Rockettes Are Gamers, Apparently
The Rockettes are one of those cultural monuments that, despite how nobody talks about them anymore, continue to exist and draw people in simply because the group has been around forever. That isn’t to discount the performers, since they’re legitimately great dancers and do put on a great show. But things like live performances born from the literal Roaring Twenties are naturally going to struggle for relevance.
In 2011, the Rockettes showrunners opted to bring modern tastes and technology to the show. What resulted was a bizarre hybrid of Rockettes dancing and modern 3D projection technology. This show’s plot involved the Rockettes going inside a video game to save a mother and child from evil Christmas-hating video game monsters or something. It’s hard to believe that is a real thing that happened, but there’s plenty of evidence it did.
The Video Game Christmas Truce
World War I was an extremely screwed up state of affairs, and that’s relative to other wars which, you know, are beyond miserable at a base level. But while things like trench warfare and chemical weapons led to new avenues of human suffering for no actual productive reason, at one point actual humanity shined through the fog of war.
During Christmas of 1914, all across the Western Front, something resembling a miracle happened. Soldiers on either side of the horrific conflict established a ceasefire, and the remarkable thing about it was the whole thing was unofficial. People who were killing each other were suddenly just hanging out and trying to make the best of a holiday that boots on the ground deemed more important than defending geopolitical alliances. Of course, they went right back to killing each other afterwards, but hey, humans are stupid.
Anyway, there’s an online World War I shooter called Verdun , based on one of the most brutal engagements of one of the most brutal wars. One holiday, the developers decided to bring the Christmas Truce to the game. Instead of murdering each other in a digital No Man’s Land, the mechanics were changed to support snowball fights, pickup football games, and other small activites that saw players just… hanging out with each other. It’s a fascinating idea, and also one that is kind of horrifying in many ways.
The Yokohama Christmas Slime
This big, blue, blocky boy isn’t explicitly a Christmas thing, but it may as well have been. Dragon Quest Builders , a game that combines the survival and crafting mechanics of Minecraft with the progression, storytelling, and quirkiness of Dragon Quest , saw a sequel in 2018. It came out in Japan in December and, as a celebration, Square Enix had a massive slime statue built in Yokohama. It was part of a sort of pop-up exhibit that lasted a few days late in the month, with the last day being on Christmas Eve. The big, dopey monster wasn’t wearing a santa hat or anything particularly festive, but I bet the spectacle of one of Japan’s most enduring video game mascots certainly moved some extra holiday sales for Dragon Quest Builders 2 .