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The Holidays are Great for Gaming

by Nick DiMeo (@f5penguin)

With the holidays back upon us and in full swing, this year might be the year you meet up with family, gather intimately with your close loved ones, or just hang out with some friends. Some might even find peace in being by themselves for this time of year. And for those who’d rather not crack a yule log and watch Christmas movies (like Die Hard), gaming could be a great alternative!

I wanted to know, from as many people as possible, where the lines between gaming and the holidays met. So I went and asked my amazing community on Discord, and the responses were great! I asked them four questions, each about this time of year and video games. So if you’re looking for ideas on what new games to play, some nostalgia on some memories of yesteryear, or perhaps a little couch co-op competition, I hope some of these suggestions will catch your attention!

What games remind you of the holidays?

For me, Madden has always reminded me of the holidays. I think it’s because I always received the latest copy of the franchise for Christmas when I was a child. I remember popping open those obscenely large cases, pulling out the hundreds-of-pages long playbook and instruction manual and studying it for hours, before finally inserting the giant yellow-tabbed cartridge into my Sega Genesis.

One of our newest community members, penguino_lord, said for some reason they thought of most LEGO games and Wii Sports.

My very good friend and moderator, Dunks, said,

“My go-to games at Christmas time were always Elder Scrolls or Fallout games. When visiting my grandparents for the holidays they didn't have internet so I was limited to game choice but this ultimately ended up fueling my love for RPG Games and propelled Fallout New Vegas to be my favorite game of all time.”

Do you have a game you played when you were a kid during this time of year that made you feel a certain way?

Two-player games were always a go-to in my house during school breaks when I was younger. My brother being three years my junior, I’d try to find the best game I was good at that had a versus mode, and would spend way too much time trying to best him at it. Occasionally we’d sit down and play through a cooperative game, and I distinctly remember SOCOM being that game for us. We must have burned an entire week of Winter break on that game, working to complete it on its hardest difficulties as a team.

Loyal community member, JM, said,

“During this time of year, I am a fan of playing the retro classics. Because I had first received these games in the 90s when they were NEW, I find myself really nostalgic around the holidays. I'm talking about games ranging from Super Mario 3 up to Super Mario 64. Even though I was a primary Nintendo household, I also used to play Sonic, Ristar, Dynamite Heady (recently added to Switch Online, ironically!) and others.”

Long-time supporter of our group, Twinkle Toes, said,

“One game I can think of is the Pokémon Ruby remake. Omega Ruby was announced and being a kid I wanted it. I didn’t get much for Christmas that year and I was staying at my grandparents one night. In the middle of the night, my grandmother gave it to me. I played it and beat in that week. I wouldn’t say it made me feel some sort of way but it helped me branch out to new people when I moved to the city I live in now. Pokémon was one of the biggest things my best friend Wylie and I used to be on about all the time. Even now, I still buy Pokémon cards. My other friend Q’s favorite is Pokémon Diamond, and with the re-release of it he’s been so happy to the point I asked for Pearl to help trade with him.”

Do you have a couch co-op game you'd recommend (on any platform)?

There are some really great couch co-op games that you can find for cheap, buy digitally through the marketplaces, or are available on services like PS Now or Xbox Game Pass. Collectively, some suggestions were It Takes Two, Overcooked, Super Smash Brothers, A Way Out, NHL 94 Retro, Mario Party, Mario Kart, and Moving Out. These are games that range in difficulty, with most being pretty easy to pick up and play, and they all provide a sense of accomplishment, while not detracting from the fun aspect of playing with friends in the same room.

If you could make ONE Christmas game recommendation as a gift to a general gamer, what would it be? Or, what's been YOUR favorite game of the year?

This one was a fun question to “poll the audience” with. For me, my game of the year was absolutely Forza Horizon 5. The ease of play, the accessibility controls, the concept of just picking up and playing the game, and the beautiful landscape and soundscape check a lot of boxes for what makes a good game for me. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the story was fun to play through. Honorable mentions for “games that were fun for me this year that I’d recommend to you” go to Back4Blood for its silliness as a solid zombie shooter, Halo Infinite for bringing Halo back to its roots, and Pokemon Unite for being a light-hearted approach to the typically difficult genre of MOBAs.

Our lead moderator Judge Castle said,

“For someone the same age as me, I'd fully recommend Deathloop. I feel it is fun, has a great cast. Gameplay is awesome, is more mature. For the general crowd of all ages, Forza Horizon 5.”

Dunks said,

“My favorite game of the year started out as Overwatch. But now, Halo and Forza are both fun to jump in and out of when I don't want to deal with the overall grind of Destiny, however it still remains my favorite game to play overall.”

JM said,

“Looking for something to see Playstation's insane graphics? Check out Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. With amazing attention to detail, R&C checks all the boxes for an enjoyable experience end to end, with comedic timing and buttery smooth gameplay.

Looking for an Xbox game? Forza Horizon 5 isn't just beautiful to watch, but very down to earth for non-fans of the genre. I found myself playing this for hours and hours despite not loving sim-racing games.

Need to pick up a game for Switch? If you haven't been living under a rock, you know that Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, to this day, is still a game that needs to be checked out.”

Twinkle Toes said,

“Stardew Valley! As someone who has way too many hours on PC playing it, and haven’t even beaten it fully yet, I recommend it to all my real life friends. It can be as basic as a farming sim, a dating sim, fishing sim or even a mining sim. There are so many ways of playing Stardew. You can kind of discover much of yourself in the game if you really take the time and play it.”

I hope that these suggestions, and some insight from my community – who are gamers at their core – give you an idea on what you could play on hopefully the large TV at your next gathering. What games are you jumping into, or what are you most looking forward to in 2022? Tweet me @f5penguin – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I hope everyone stays safe, has a wonderful Christmas, a relaxing holiday break and a fantastic New Year!


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