As the holiday season rolls in, office work environments are continuing their traditions of board-approved cheer. With this comes the usual rigmarole: companywide emails about holiday bonuses and events, the hanging of tacky decorations, and of course the drawing of Secret Santas. The dread of getting to know a fellow office worker as discretely as possible, learning more about them, and figuring out a sensible gift for them in observation of the holiday season is something a lot of people deal with on top of other obligations during this time of year.
But what if you were in a Secret Santa program and your co-workers were characters from games released in 2021? What would be some of the more awkward or socially tricky video game characters to handle? Why awkward? Because getting to know and empathize with your fellow man is full of honest mistakes, and 'tis the season for good will towards all.
1. Cahal from Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood
Starting off our list of Awkward Video Game Secret Santas that actively defeat the purpose of the exercise is the lycanthropic ecoterrorist from the World of Darkness franchise, Cahal. There's a lot you can say about Cahal that makes him difficult to interact with even in a mundane office environment. He has serious anger management issues. His interests seem to actively go against anything resembling commercialist or capitalist ventures, instead going on about how humanity is choking the life out of the planet. It's an uphill battle right from the start.
What Can You Get Cahal?
The first obvious answer would be a bonsai tree or maybe some sort of gardening supplies. But Cahal would throw it back in your face and go on a screed about how nature has its own designs, and to put it in pots is another form of human control. A gift card to a vegan restaurant wouldn't help either since Cahal is obviously a hunter and seems to be more of a red meat kind of guy.
But Cahal's one-track mind does hold a bit of salvation. Get him a copy of guerilla warfare tactics and some sources on how to make improvised bombs and explosives. It'll help him fulfill his goals of tearing down rampant corporations. Also keep your alibi straight when the cops show up and ask questions.
What Would Cahal Get You?
Assuming you don't get on Cahal's bad side, there's a chance he might be a bit more considerate than you think. While he can be aggressive about his beliefs, he does deeply care about the environment and nature itself. So chances are his gift could be anything from some homemade trail mix to some hiking boots, followed by a list of local trails to check out.
2. Selene from Returnal
On paper, it seems like the highly accomplished Selene from the sci-fi horror action roguelite adventure Returnal wouldn't be that daunting of a Secret Santa to shop for. She's an astronaut, and an accomplished scientist, and a mother, and a stellar marksman. In fact, you get the feeling she's only in this completely hypothetical office environment because she's the type of person who won't stop working until she dies.
But all of that life experience makes it really difficult to get a beat on her emotionally. In fact, you're pretty sure she can't keep her own history straight with just how much mileage there is on her mind.
What Can You Get Selene?
It seems that Selene is the type of person stuck in the past. Considering there is a booming market of nostalgia-based toys and products available online, it seems like an easy fit... until you see the prices on some of them. Plus, it seems that toys might not be the right fit for her given some complicated emotional baggage she occasionally alludes to. Novelty analog fixtures like old CRT TV monitors are way too pricey for such a function as well.
Your best bet for a sensible gift would most likely be a novelty spaceship model. Although it might be better if you veer more towards official NASA models than anything sci-fi inspired. She seems to like those models better.
What Would Selene Get You?
Given Selene's wider swath of life experience and formal sensibilities, she might be one of the more agreeable Secret Santas to have on this list by default. She seems like an inquisitive and introspective sort of person, given the qualifications needed for space travel that can be self-evident.
But by that same note, you might not have that same thirst for knowledge on hand. Expect a few existential philosophy textbooks giftwrapped for you. Most likely it'll be something like Heidegger's Being and Time, or some esoteric observations on Immanuel Kant's Metaphysics of Morals. Either way, break out the highlighters and notes, or get ready to own some thick doorstops.
3. Stackboss Poone from The Ascent
It just wouldn't be an awkward office environment in 2021 without at least some acknowledgment of the almost dystopian rampancy of corporate capitalism and the borderline exploitative practices by management on the workforce. So, naturally, we're getting a little cyberpunk with our next choice. Unfortunately, industry whipping boy Cyberpunk 2077 released last year, so Dexter Deshaun's double-crossing face will not be on this list.
Thankfully, 2021 had its own surprise hit with the cyberpunk release, The Ascent. And who else can sum up being just the worst person to be a Secret Santa to than Stackboss Poone? He's a duplicitous grifter, a scummy landlord, and an opportunistic little cretin that would throw anyone close to him under the bus for some profit.
In this context, Stackboss Poone is the kind of office co-worker that gets stuff done in the moment by cutting corners and taking shortcuts but is always found out by upper management later on. Not to mention he seems like the kind of guy who side hustles as a provider of illegal substances then immediately requests drug screenings to HR just to get rid of the one guy who ate his lunch.
What Can You Get Stackboss Poone?
Stackboss Poone is a manipulative little piece of work, but he does have his vices. If you can avoid getting on his bad side or work your way through his different forms of blackmail, a simple gift might be enough to keep him off of your radar after this Secret Santa affair. Gift him a box of cigars. At worst, he verbally chews you out for the quality and tries to shame you for kissing up to him. At best, he'll just shrug and leave you alone. Either way, he will be lighting them up within minutes.
What Will Stackboss Poone Get You?
Knowing Stackboss Poone as the far future grifter he is, there's really only one gift he'd try: a bunch of NFTs. He'll go on about how he's getting you a great deal and how everyone is blowing things out of proportion. But he'll also insist you need to log onto three other websites and jump through multiple hoops for authentication, which will most likely be used for spyware, phishing, spam, and information harvesting to fill his own pockets. Just smile and nod, set up some dummy email accounts, and invest in a VPN. Hopefully by February the whole affair will be over.
4. Eric from Boyfriend Dungeon
In a world as open and welcoming as Boyfriend Dungeon, Eric is the worst. Not just because he is the main antagonist, but because of his social skills. He flirts nonstop, won't shut up about his personal hobbies, and just doesn't get the hint that no means no. If it weren't for his very specific type of person who can magically turn into a sword, he'd be perpetually stuck in sensitivity training courses and getting dressed down by HR.
What Can You Get Eric?
The easy answer would be no gift at all. No matter what you get, Eric would find a way to hit on you, then badger you until you say yes to a date. Not to mention Eric comes off as the sort that is so well off and such a control freak he's already bought whatever he's interested in. He's interested in swords and bladed weapons? Congratulations, he already has his own armory sorted and categorized. He's really interested in exotic semihuman biology? He already has books and products dedicated to that study.
Unfortunately, we have to gift something for this vampy little prude. So here's the solution. The best gift for Eric would be an invitation to a fancy club. Items are one thing, experiences are another. Set some time aside in your schedule, get some close friends together, and go out as a giant group. As annoying and thickheaded as Eric is, he comes across as the kind of guy who needs to get out more. As easy as it would be to just write him off, that doesn't really gel with the spirit of the season. Best-case scenario, you have a nice time out with some close friends, and a certain jerkwad becomes a little less terrible. Worst-case scenario, you have a nice time out with friends.
What Will Eric Get You?
Knowing Eric, it will probably be a dagger or a knife with a heart on the hilt followed by a love note. Accept it, put it in a drawer somewhere, and report Eric to HR. Again.
5. Leshy from Inscryption
Finally, we have the enigmatic woodsman Leshy from the indie horror game, Inscryption. On paper, Leshy seems like a decent co-worker. He keeps to himself, most likely in charge of records and archives. He seems friendly enough and is polite with information. He even has fun knickknacks in his office like wooden carvings and photographs of old friends. Clearly, he has a healthy life outside of work.
But getting to know Leshy, you'll notice he does seem to have a bit of an obsession with card games. In fact, give him enough time and he'll go on a conspiratorial tirade about one card game in particular. If you know the kind of people who are into Magic: The Gathering but will completely dunk on anyone playing anything other than the most current competitive format, that is Leshy in a nutshell.
What Can You Get Leshy?
This is tricky. The easy answer would be some packs of cards. But as mentioned before, Leshy seems to really enjoy really obscure card games, one in particular that has been out of print for a long time. Yu-Gi-Oh!? Magic: The Gathering? Flesh and Blood? Force of Will? He's either aware of them or has dismissed them outright.
But while the cards themselves are an unknown quantity, card-game-related products are not. A card binder might seem nice, but chances are he already has a couple. But card sleeves? The nice ones with textured backs? That might be the ticket. Leshy, like most card game fanatics, never has enough card sleeves. And if they say they do, they're lying.
What Will Leshy Get You?
As mentioned before, Leshy does have some diverse hobbies and does seem observant. But by that same token, he is the kind of person that isn't just too into his hobbies, he tries to rope in other people as well.
By that reckoning, Leshy's potential gifts are as follows. First, he'd give you a Magic: The Gathering draft booster, which he will then want you to immediately open up -- and then ask for a game. Yes, he will inexplicably have land cards on hand to help. If this happens, tell him it's strictly a gentleman's game with nothing at stake. Also do not agree to a photograph afterwards. Take the deck home and do with it what you will.
The second would be a wooden figurine whittled by a hunting knife. This is arguably the best possible gift of the three since it's just a wooden figurine. It's sentimental, and it shows a bit of humanity behind the outdoorsman.
Third would be a novelty chest that smells suspicious. The chest is locked with a convoluted contraption that will take you at least a day of trial and error and a few Google searches to figure out. Your prize? A plate full of rotting meat. Throw out the meat, hose it down, keep the chest as an extra secure safety deposit box.
And that was a fun little look back at some of this year's characters in video games and why it's probably a good thing that you're not stuck in an office with them. Happy Holidays from us at TechRaptor, and take care of yourself.