When family life interferes with your video games . . .
It’s that time of year again when many of us are having to deal with what we’re going to do for the holidays. Spend Hanukkah with the parents and Christmas in Vegas? Will New Years involve a road trip or just food and drinks in your own household? What if you have multiple sets of families (not the weird secret family types, just of the step-relative/foster family/etc. type)? In-laws? Siblings, cousins, best friends, internet friends, secret lovers, favorite hookers . . . the list goes on and on. I won’t be covering how to make the decision of who to spend the holidays with, just how to get your gaming fix while you’re there.
- Bring along some family friendly games. While Call of Duty: The Latest Release-That’s-Really-Not-Much-Different-from-the-Last-One may be your new favorite game, it may not go over so well in the family room. I, myself, have gotten aunts and cousins to play Rock Band after a holiday meal (though we said our drum set was ‘broken’ to avoid any drumsticks through the tv). Other suggestions? Try Mario Kart (more beginner friendly than other racing games), Mario Party (just don’t invite Ian Montgomery or he may make lewd comments) or anything else you may feel would fit with the crowd you’ll be hanging out with. Hey, for all I know you could be doing a 7 day session of your preferred flavor of FPS over Kwanzaa. Then by all means, don’t let my advice slow you down any. Carry on pseudo-soldier.
- Try some board games. Sure, not every gamer is a board gamer, but there’s still something to be said about the use of imagination needed in these games. They often require more thought and strategy than the average video game and (with a few exceptions) are much less action oriented. Board games are generally considered more accessible, so people of all ages tend to be more open to trying them out. Some suggestions: Partini, Smarty Party, Apples to Apples and, of course, classics like Monopoly, Uno and, my personal favorite, Clue (though the last time I got five other people to play it, we’d all been drinking and the person who won only won by default after the rest of us had made incorrect guesses, so watch your alcoholic intake folks). Take that, fancy HD visuals and $300+ systems!
- Portable systems ahoy! The obvious option when traveling, dust off that ole Lynx and pack it along for your trip. People can be offended if you ignore them outright during the festivities, but just find yourself a quiet corner (you can alternately lock yourself in the upstairs bathroom if times are desperate and relatives are being persistent. Grandma, please, you smell like . . . old woman.) I’d suggest sticking to puzzle/strategy oriented titles, something you can more easily drop at a moments notice and pick back up after a couple of hours. There’s nothing like missing the New Year’s countdown because you were hurrying over to the nearest save point. As far as strategy games go, I’d recommend going with turn-based over real time for ease of having to deal with constant interruptions. Or even slower paced games like the SimCity franchise.
- Deal without gaming for awhile. Not the most ideal, as holidays are when many of us actually do have the time to game, but I suppose family and tradition can be more important sometimes. Sometimes. Just think of it as an opportunity to indulge in your other hobbies like watching sci-fi movies, painting pewter D&D figurines or even recording random moments hoping to capture the next viral video. You know, normal family activities.
- Screw the fam! Who said you need to ‘socialize’ or make good with the relatives? Who needs friends? Hey, Wil Wheaton is plenty friends with me after he personally told me about his dogs running around the house the other day on Twitter. And my Xbox Live friends list is never ending. Take that social awkwardness! I know I’m not the only gamer out there that has a huge pile of games purchased throughout the year just asking to finally be played. And now’s the time, folks. Now’s the time!
One’s relationship with one’s family is a sticky matter. There’s the constant nagging to spend time with them, even if you’d rather be doing something else. So which of the options is best for you? Well, as usual, that’s up to you to decide. I say to find a balance of family and personal time so that family get-togethers don’t feel too much like bothersome obligations and yet you’re not completely avoiding them. But, of course, different situations require different actions. No matter what you end up doing, have fun and be safe during your end-of-the-year activities.