Christmas & Foisting Games on Loved Ones

Konami Christmas Snake Bomberman

For Christmas 2000, I bought my brother a copy of Metal Gear Solid on the PS1. As far as I'm aware, it's still in the shrink wrap, probably boxed-up somewhere in the attic or at the back of a cupboard. An unwanted classic; an unloved vintage.

Although my brother certainly played games back then, he had zero interest in MGS. Despite my continued attempts, I just couldn't get him to play it. I took that personally, as I thought MGS was an unmatched masterpiece.

A wasted gift, and one that we still jest about to this day. A shorthand for misjudged and unwanted gifts.

"You played Metal Gear Solid yet?"

Christmas is for spending time with loved ones and indulging in excess. But it's also an opportunity to foist your interests on others, usually with deeply disappointing results.

To be honest, I've always preferred to play on my lonesome. But Christmas day in my youth presented a unique opportunity to share my interests with a captive, if not captivated, audience. I remember playing Sega Rally Championship on my brand new Saturn on Christmas morning 1996 and convincing my Grandma to give it a go, an embarrassing memory that I shared a few festive seasons back. The following Christmas, I received Jonah Lomu Rugby for that same Saturn, and was convinced that it'd be the key to getting my rugby-loving dad to pick up a controller. It was not, but I do remember him passing comment on how realistic it looked. He probably slunk out of the living room a few minutes later to indulge in his favourite festive pastime: having a wrapping paper bonfire in the back garden.

He genuinely loved that. Very therapeutic and a blessing for our already-heaving bins.

My parents were always very supportive of their children's interests, but that would stop well short of actually playing video games. The closest I got to winning them over was Wii Joysound Karaoke and Wii Sports, which was good for one New Year's Eve entertainment session in the early 2010s. My mum is positively allergic to games, possibly because it fell on her to try to source the obscure titles that I'd write on my Christmas list. To this day, she still refers to game stores as "pissy-pants shops" on account of them smelling like piss. Which, to be fair, was accurate.

I toyed with buying my parents a Wii one Christmas, but I eventually came to my senses. In more recent years, I thought a Switch might be a fine present idea for my mum, as it would give her an opportunity to play online with her granddaughter and make the 6000 miles that separates them feel a little less immense. But then I remembered how much difficulty she has opening Zoom on her laptop, replying to emails on her phone, restarting her router etc. and thought better of it.

Probably best to stick with scented candles and books.

My wife is a thoroughly elapsed gamer, but back in the day, I had some limited success with "shared" games under the tree. Little Big Planet was a winner over the 2008 Christmas period, and a year later, Dragon Age Origins, a present for me, almost immediately became a joint experience. Nothing more festive than gore-splattered RPG heroes! Returning to my brother, I did have success with a modded Game Gear and Master System converter which I gifted him almost a decade ago. He's as big a sucker for childhood nostalgia as I am, so the opportunity to revisit our childhood Master System games went down pretty well.

This year, there are several video games wrapped up under our Christmas tree, and they're not all for me. My daughter, bless her, loves to play Switch. I've been very careful to let her find her own interests, and not guide her towards mine, and I try to be supportive and enthusiastic about everything she's drawn to. That being said, I'm stoked that she enjoys video games, as it's nice to have someone to share a part of my interests with. On Christmas morning, she'll be playing Fashion Dreamer and the DLC for Pokemon Violet, and maybe even some multiplayer Mario Wonder. I'm looking forward to hearing her excitable updates on her new games. I'll be all ears.

Whether it comes with games or without, I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful festive season.

I'll see you back here just before New Year for my Best & Worst of 2023. Merry Christmas!

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