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Ah, winter: That special time of year when you visit family, exchange gifts, and shoot snowballs at carolers from your second story window with a fully automatic SnowPOW 3000 snowball cannon, one hand on the swivel handle and the other raised in a triumphant fist of glory as you cackle wildly at the scattering Santa hats below!! But seriously folks, we should all take a moment to remember what this season is really about: accidentally saying Merry Christmas within earshot of a nosy stranger so they can spend the next half hour lecturing you on the proper holiday phrases to use as you awkwardly put your groceries away in a busy parking lot. And spending money! Which brings us to our question…

What is your best gaming related holiday gift or memory?

Rutledge “The Red Nosed Reindeer” Daugette

My all-time favorite holiday gaming experience, and one that will continue to stay with me for the rest of my life, was when I was 6 and got my first gaming console, the Playstation. It came with 2Xtreme, and a demo disc chock full of goodies, the best of which was Final Fantasy VII. I think I played that demo 20 times over the holidays that year, and still continue to play it over and over again across PS2, PS3, and now my PS Vita. I’ll always remember that Christmas as the year I became a gamer.

“Santa’s Little Helper” Scott Rosenberg

When I was just starting college, I didn’t have many friends who didn’t get scattered all over the country. It was 2005, and the friends I did have were really into World of Warcraft. I ended up joining in with them in the virtual world, and went pretty deep. Come winter time, I was fully indoctrinated in an all female (and mostly Night Elf) roleplaying guild, Sisterhood of Elune (real gender didn’t matter, only character gender). There was a winter holiday festival coming up in the human capital, along with a holiday dance, so all the girls and I went shopping for formal wear! My character was an engineer, so I wore engineering goggles at all times. I can tell you, they are quite odd to wear with a dress! Sadly, I couldn’t go to the actual event because an IRL event happened, but there were a lot of laughs that night just trying things on and shopping with the girls. It was really nice. It took away some of the frustration I had with all of my friends moving away. I remember that memory fondly.

Travis “Silent Night, Deadly Night” Donnell

I’ve definitely had “freak out” reactions to some games and consoles I’ve gotten through childhood and over the years that were stronger than the gift I chose (the TMNT Arcade game for NES, a 3DO, and, as of last year, Wappy Dog, which I totally flipped shit over) but I have to say that the NES I received the Christmas of 1986 should get top spot simply because it changed everything: At age 6, I was suddenly thrust from the Cro-Magnon era of banging two toy wrestlers together while making “psh psh psh” noises to this incredible new medium of light and sound handed down from the gods themselves that allowed me to control characters on the tiny black and white television with pronged VHF connections that was suddenly in my room. That room became a temple and video games the sermon as I worshiped at the altar of pixels. Not much has since changed.

Don “Parson Brown” Parsons

My most memorable video gaming present/experience I got at Christmas was probably one I still laugh at sometimes. While me and my brother shared some stuff, I think getting the MMO Dark Age of Camelot and watching my parents look at me oddly as I tried to explain what an MMO was and that it had a monthly subscription fee was hilarious. They… couldn’t really believe it at first and looked somewhat embarrassed. I did get myself some time on it and enjoyed it, though it was in DAoC’s later years, but the first moments of it always stick with me.

Georgina “Got Run Over by a Reindeer” Young

Nothing could compare to the sheer joy, after years of having to share every big present my sister had been gifted over the years, of tearing off the wrapping of a huge cuboid on Christmas morning and discovering the beast that was the original Playstation inside, all for myself.  My dad had purchased it in a bundle with four games that clearly were not selling well, and while a system is usually nothing without a good set of games, I spent hours  customizing my wrestler in WWF none the less, and was completely absorbed by my second hand copy of Croc, which I had chosen specifically for its cute art style. Being able to play the main character after that Christmas was a luxury I will never forget.

Alexander “Bad Santa” Baldwin

My best game related holiday experience was definitely the Christmas of 2003. I was on holiday in France and brought my PS2 for good measure. That Christmas day I opened up a brand new copy of Tony Hawk’s Underground. That was the first day that I sat down and completed a game in a day. Whilst everyone around me was celebrating their family festivities, I was making my way through Hawaii doing tre flips over buildings. It instilled in me a love for the sport and remains one of my favourite games of all time. Not only that, but my Uncle just happened to bring his copy of HALO 2 for us to sit down, full of chocolate and dinner, to play in the evening.

Matthew “Christmas Miracle” Murphy

My greatest gaming holiday memory was when I got my Nintendo 64… Joking aside, my birthday comes late in the year, so I tend to get new gaming hardware prior to the holidays or buy it myself when applicable. The best gaming memory related to the holiday season actually pertains to 2012 when a certain ‘major video game store’ was offering the option for Steam credit on all trade-ins. We all know that late December bring the yearly Gaben mugging of our wallets, so my approach was to upgrade to PC versions of titles where applicable and hopefully have leftover credit for gag gifts like Bad Rats. What I didn’t know at the time was that this chain was offering a frankly ridiculous amount of credit for my used copies of Orange Box (360) and Left 4 Dead1&2 (360) that I hadn’t touched in years. Additionally, the exchange rates for titles such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Mirror’s Edge had me coming out ahead even after purchasing the games again during the non-flash sale prices on Steam. The end result was that a small escapade meant to replace a few titles in my 360 collection with Steam versions succeeded beyond expectation. Since the ‘trade in for Steam credit directly’ option no longer exists and judging by my own experience, then it is fair to guess that some may have exploited this system hard at the time. The real question is how many Christmases will it take until I finish my backlog? That would be a Christmas miracle.

“Peppermint” Patrick Perrault

It was late 2005, around mid-November. While most gamers were waiting feverishly for the Xbox 360, I was still rocking it out with the Playstation 2 and the Game Boy Advance. I had heard of Microsoft’s Xbox of course. My cousins had introduced me to the wonders of Blood Gulch a few years earlier, and I even vaguely remember the launch of Halo 2… But never did I expect that I would receive an original Xbox over the Holidays. It wasn’t new, but it was pretty much untouched, courtesy of a family friend who had never really gotten bitten by the gaming bug. I still remember my face lighting up, and the pure joy I had felt upon receiving an Xbox. Finally, I could play Halo, and all the other cool exclusive games that I had missed. However, I quickly hit a wall. I had no games! Desperately, I combed through the box, hoping that my suspicions were incorrect. They weren’t. It was like someone had given me a delicious treat, only to snatch it back and hold it over their own head, while I could only watch in frustration. However, I realized something. My DVD copy of Star Wars: Episode III had an exclusive Xbox demo for Star Wars: Battlefront 2! You can imagine what I played for the next few days.

Tanis “Babes in Toyland” Pallagi

The best holiday memory I have was the year after the PlayStation came out. Because my birthday is so late in the year, I often get combined birthday/Christmas presents (lame huh?) In this case I was allowed to get my present early, so my dad drove my sister and I to the city; there I got a PS1, a memory card and Final Fantasy VII. I had rented that game when it came out and it amazed me; I was so excited to play it that sitting in the car for another hour and a half was excruciating. One weird thing that happened on the way back was coming to an intersection downtown that has two galleries across the street from each other. One is called the Wallace gallery and the other is called the Gainsborough gallery; it kind of blew my mind.

“Stocking Stuffer” Stephen Snook

My father is a likely contender for the worst liar ever when he came home just before Christmas with a Nintendo 64 he ‘found’ at Target. It came with Mario Kart 64 and the whole family would play it together. Remember when video games were a family activity like board games and not just something to point blame at? I do =( Later on, Blast Corps for the Nintendo 64 entered my life and I decided for some reason that every Easter I would reset my save game and play through it to the end before Easter was over. I still practice this tradition to this day.

Luigi “It’s a Wonderful Life” Savinelli

My best video game holiday experience is also the first one. I was probably 4 or 5 years old and it was Christmas day. My parents asked a friend of theirs to dress up as Santa and come to our house that morning to give me a little surprise. Santa gave me a nice package that I opened in the blink of an eye. In it there was the original GameBoy with a Looney Tunes game. I spent the next half an hour or so hugging my parents, siblings, and of course Santa. Until that moment I used to play my brother’s Commodore 64. Of course, I was just a child and a machine that operates on magnetic tapes was not exactly easy to use for a 5 years old. That moment signed the first time I had my own game system and so it’s what, in due time, made me a gamer. The funniest thing of that day was my brother and sister trying to convince me that Santa Claus arrived in a car because one of the reindeer was sick.

Andrew “Snowman” Stretch

It was a cold morning as I woke up to my 9th birthday, I would always be the first one to wake up in my household and the first thing I would do would be to go downstairs to play on my PlayStation and wait for the rest of the house to stir around me. On days like my birthday, my mother would tell me that I had to wait till at least 7:00 AM before I could wake everyone up to see what presents I had been given. This morning when I walked into the room where I would play my games there was a strange new black box there, it was a PlayStation 2 that my father had set up for me the night before with F1 2001 and Spider-Man sitting next to it. I had never been much of a racing fan so I immediately picked up Spider-Man and put it in to play. To my dismay it was in French (that’s where I lived at the time) but I still played the entire way through that game using trial and error and loved every moment of it.

“Jolly” James Galizio

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had some sort of video game in my life. Heck, I got my first GameBoy when I was 3… it probably says something about me that I remember that over a lot of other things, but regardless – it goes without saying that because of that I had a lot of holiday memories growing up. Probably the most memorable would have to be the Christmas of 2004 though… within the span of 24 hours I got Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, Kirby Air Ride, Pokemon FireRed, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. All of those games went on to become some of my favorites, and the fact that my dad had gone through all of the trouble to actually find games that he thought I might enjoy really made it special. There have been a lot of great holiday memories revolving around video games since then, but nothing really came quite as close to the feelings I got when I woke up that Christmas day.

Bryan “Bah Humbug” Heraghty

I think every gamer in their childhood had that Christmas or Hanukkah or Flag Day where they wanted, NEEDED that one special game in their lives. The kind of game a crowd of kids you’d never met would gather around the department store TV just to marvel at as one kid played the demo. For me, Mario SuperStar Baseball took that distinction, yet every Christmas present I opened, though appreciated, left me feeling the absence of the apprized Nintendo baseball game. But the moment I forfeited my chances, my aunt, arriving late, produced a wrapped present with such exact dimensions of a video game case, that it could only be one thing! (Imagine if it was actually just a DVD) I opened it with the wonder of Charlie Bucket and found my golden ticket: Mario SuperStar Baseball! The Christmas night filled with cries of anger and joy as my relatives, young and old, took turns battling and bonding over our love of baseball, video games, or both.

“Ho Ho” Jose Alvarado

It was the Christmas of 1993, I was the only kid I knew who didn’t have his own gaming system and I had begged my parents for months to correct this. One day, I went out to find my friends, hockey stick over my shoulder. We lived on a side street that was perfect for hockey. They ran up to me excitedly and with a story to tell. “We saw your mom coming home with a shopping bag,” they said, “and there was Sega Genesis inside!” They swore they’d seen it. They claimed to have accosted her on the sidewalk without letting her pass until she’d shown them what was inside the bag. But it was more than just a system, they had seen games, so many games! I asked them which ones and they dropped so many titles on me that for the rest of the week I went to bed salivating at the thought. Sonic, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, NHLPA 93. Well, Christmas day came around and my prayers were answered, there was indeed a Sega Genesis for me under the tree, that part was true–games on the other hand, my folks could only afford one, and it wasn’t Golden Axe or Streets of rage, it wasn’t anything as cool as that…it was Tommy Lasorda Baseball. I wasn’t surprised that my friends had made things up, and I didn’t care either. I was happy. Despite the frayed control wires of a few years later, that Genesis is still the best gift I ever received.

Wyatt “How is Santa supposed to pronounce that?” Hnatiw

My best holiday gaming memory? Easy. When I was about 7 my parents got my brother and I a Nintendo 64 for Christmas. We were about 90% as excited as the Nintendo Sixty FOOOOUR kid; because come on, we have some class. Tragically, because we had to be at my grandmother’s house to celebrate Christmas with my extended family, I wasn’t allowed to play it that morning. I sat trough a full day, tragically N64-less, I’m sure I was not terribly good company that day, my thoughts still at home with my precious console. That night when we finally went home I sat down to start Super Mario 64 when I was informed that it was bedtime. This was clearly a tragic injustice, but I had a plan. I waited until my entire family was asleep, snuck downstairs and played all night. I had just about finished Bob-Omb Battlefield (I missed the Chain Chomp Star because I was scared of him) when parents found me there in the morning. They were less than pleased, they took the N64 away for a few days, my brother was not especially happy with me after that.

Totally worth it though.

Yes, yes it was. What are your best game related holiday memories? Tell us about them in the comments!

Travis Donnell

Creative Director

Creative Director & Producer @ TR