If you've ever played video games even a little, you probably have some fond memories of playing those games with someone else (and maybe some not-so-fond ones involving blue turtle shells). Playing video games with family and friends is something that occurs quite often during holidays, though those holidays aren't always the same for everyone. In fact, while most people think of Thanksgiving and Christmas as the sorts of holidays that would bring people together to play games, they're not the only ones.
The beauty of games is that they can help create their own holidays and traditions at any time — and in doing so, they help to create memories that are unique and special. With that in mind, we contacted a few of our Creators to share their specific memories of video games and the holidays. Each story is tied to a specific and exclusive memory, and each demonstrates just how sentimental gaming experiences can be.
Our first story comes from Julius Vergara, who found that video games can help spur their own traditions into being, and that those traditions can exist across generations. His story of gathering around a console is likely one we can all relate to in some way or another:
The holidays and gaming go hand in hand for my family. It’s become especially true now that we’re all older and trying to #adult as best we can manage. The holidays are an excuse to get back to our childish basics and gather around the latest tech and just have fun.
When we were kids, my cousins used new games as an excuse to section ourselves off in the other room so we can just do our thing and avoid hearing our parents perform their yearly ritual of “who has the better child.” Somehow, even in our adult years, that’s still a thing. So as their tradition continues, so does ours.
In that vein, the memory that sticks out to me the most was the Christmas of 2000. That was a full 16 years ago which is an awesome reminder that we’re all old now. Anyway, at the time the PS2 had just come out and it promised to be a machine that was going to blow our minds. My parents got me one and the minute I unwrapped that present we rushed over to the other room to plug that baby in.
It was a team effort. My cousins helped with ripping apart the bags that the wires came in and the youngest was tasked with picking at the impossibly tight wrapping on one game I had for the PS2, that game was Onimusha and it was amazing.
We never really lost that hype over games — although this time, it’s a new generation that’s going off into the other room to play.
The PS2 delivered and its graphics absolutely blew our tiny minds. We all looked at each other wondering how games got there so quickly. I started with the Nintendo Entertainment System, and when I moved closer to my cousins, we had the PS1 to share. Suddenly, there we were: staring at game that looked like it was a cut-scene all the time — and we were hyped!
We took turns playing, and even when we weren’t playing, that sense of hype didn't leave us. There was also a lot of backseat gaming and turns were decided by dead arms... but that’ll happen with a bunch of boys trapped in a room with a single console and one controller.
We never really lost that hype over games — although this time, it’s a new generation that’s going off into the other room to play. My nieces and nephews are now the ones fighting for a turn and getting hyped. The only difference is that instead of the “grown ups” doing their own thing, we’re in there watching them play. There’s something enchanting about that, and even if we eventually stop playing, games will always be something special that connects us.
Julius's story is no doubt something we can all relate to. In my family, it doesn't matter what time of year it is — Christmas gatherings in December or summer birthdays in July — whenever we have a get-together, a group of us always manages to sneak off to play and talk about games. It doesn't matter how old we are; from my 7-year-old brother to my 30-something cousin, we all find common ground in games.
Our next piece comes from Rachelle Riddle, who shares a story of a video-game memory that isn't around a particular holiday per se, but one that still demonstrates just how easy games can make it to bring people together. When you're playing a game online, it doesn't matter what time of year it is or how far away you live from other players, at any moment, you can decide to turn a night into something special — and that's exactly what Rachelle and her World of Warcraft guildmates did:
WoW has a lot of holidays, but the one celebration that stands out to me the most isn’t a holiday at all. It was our guildmate’s birthday and we were bored that night. Raid was over, we were all hanging out in Dalaran [one of the game's major cities], and we decided our friend needed a proper celebration. It’s hard sometimes to plan time to celebrate events in your regular life, so we figured a virtual celebration would suffice. And we didn’t even have to pay for any food.
We started off the night relatively tame. You can’t have a proper birthday without cake, so we plopped a lovely two-tier pink frosted cake on the table in the Horde inn. That was about as far as the tameness stayed.
Soon we started drinking. And, what often happens when you drink too much, the alcohol had unintended side effects. This led to clothing mysteriously disappearing, green expulsions of bodily fluids, and eventually we were all dancing on the table.
Now, because this is a virtual game and not real life, driving was involved, made all the more funny by zooming in first person and pretending we were playing Mario Kart. We raced through the busy streets, though with a lot of swerving because of the game’s penchant for preventing us from going in straight lines when under the influence.
We soon moved the party from the streets of Dalaran to the battlefields of Wintergrasp for a round of PvP, though this time fully clothed. Despite our best efforts, Wintergrasp stood strong against our drunken onslaught so we ended the night by sneaking into the main Vault through a glitch in the roof, since it was still barred to our faction.
Our wild night had reached its conclusion and we soon went meekly off to bed. Though the guild is long gone, and our friends have moved on their separate ways, it still remains one of my fondest memories.
From an outside perspective, it might be hard to understand just what makes a night like this so fun. But if you've ever had your own similar experience — and, personally, I know I have — it's truly the sort of memory you never forget. And the best part? If you're like Rachelle, you have the entire thing documented in screenshots.
Of course, as I've said before, there are many different ways that games can bring us together. Where Julius and Rachelle's have their own unique way of bringing about comradery, so too does our third and final story.
This last one is actually my own personal tale. I'll fully admit to being overly prone to nostalgia, which is perhaps why this story jumped to mind. But where nostalgia can sometimes keep us in the past, other times it can be used in the present to create new yet familiar experiences. This story (thankfully) is the latter:
When I was in junior high and high school, my friends and I had a pretty standard summer routine: meet at someone's house, hang out for a bit, bike over to Dairy Queen and Blockbuster, and then go back and hang out some more. And when I say "hang out," I mostly mean "play video games." Sometimes — in fact, quite a few times — these hang-outs would turn into sleep-overs.
Of course, you don't usually sleep too much at sleep-overs, and these were no exception. Video games weren't the only thing we ever did — there were plenty of card games, movies, pool, and a lot more — but they were a constant. We'd rotate what we wanted to play depending on what kind of mood we were in and what had just come out, but one of the titles we always returned to was Halo 2.
We made a custom game mode that was a free-for-all, first-to-50-kills battle with only shotguns and plasma grenades, played exclusively on the Lockout map. Because of the shotgun exclusivity — and because we were uncreative teenagers trying to rhyme — we called this game mode "Shot Pot."
I'll be honest, I couldn't tell you why we found this game mode so fun or what made it so addicting, but we could play for hours on end. There was something about the simplicity of the rules combined with the chaos of screen-watching that made Shot Pot the mode we always came back to. This was our mode, our tradition.
This was our mode,
Fast-forward a few years. We're all in college and no longer live within biking distance of each other. But a couple times a year, we all come home at the same time — be it for Christmas, spring break, or just a fateful weekend during which the stars align. So what do we do? We spend the night at someone's house and play Shot Pot until we're too tired to stay awake.
Of course, we're older now, so in between landing plasma grenades on someone coming up the gravity-elevator-thing, we drink. We also talk briefly about our lives and catch up as best as college-age males care to — but mostly, we drink and play that same video game we used to play in junior high.
But the great part of it all is not that we're retreading old steps; it's quite the opposite. This simple, stupidly named game mode remains the common ground in our ever-changing lives. We might not see each other more than a couple times a year at best. We might be playing with significantly more alcohol in ours bodies. But we're playing all the same. And it's hard to imagine what all these get-togethers would have been like without this game to bring us together.
Anyone who plays video games has something special. It doesn't matter if you're a hardcore gamer who plays all the new releases and tops all the charts or if you're someone who just dabbles in one or two games each year. It doesn't matter if you remember when the Atari 2600 was first released or if your first console was the 3DS.
When you game with someone else, none of that matters — you are both sharing an experience together. These sorts of experiences are especially prominent during the winter holidays, but that doesn't mean you can't have your own personal gaming holiday. What's important is how holidays of any kind can bring us together in ways not much else truly can.