Being an avid gamer, I’ve been really looking forward to Christmas break so that I can go home, lock myself in my room and waste away many glorious hours on my Xbox. First semester has been really fun, but I’ve rarely had the time between going to lectures and going out to game on my own, so understandably I was looking forward to going home and just taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Even though I’m getting older, video games still hold a special place in my heart as there is simply no better form of escapism, and they are still able to supply me with a bit of childlike joy no other medium manages to. However, my plans changed when one of my housemates brought their old Wii to the house…

We spent the next few nights having tournaments in Mario Kart and Fifa 11, and it has honestly been some of the best fun I’ve had all year. The quality of the games is far better than I remember, but it’s playing as a group which makes it so enjoyable. Nothing quite beats a group of adults shouting at the screen for you to go faster as you nick the victory on the final straight. It really took me back to my childhood, but more importantly reminded me of Christmases past.

Looking back, most of my favourite Christmas memories are of playing video games. For Christmas, we always went over to my cousins’ house and spent hours playing Mario Kart, Wii Sports and Halo 3. These games were brilliant in their own right, but the competitive element with others made it extra special. There really is nothing better than laughing and mucking about playing Forge War with people you love. It also introduced me to so many new games that I’d probably never have tried out on my own. 

These last few Christmases, however, have been a bit drab. We have stopped playing games as a group. After we’ve eaten dinner, we often just slouch in front of the TV, or go off to our own rooms, ironically to play games on our own. I still enjoy the occasion but it’s not as fun as it used to be.

This Christmas, things will be different though. Playing video games with my housemates has convinced me that it’s still possible to bring back the Christmases I enjoyed when I was younger. As soon as I get home, I will dig out my family’s old Wii, boot it up, hope to god it still works, and start playing. I’ll also bring my Xbox down from my room and we can play things like Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly as a group (the video game versions are much better than the board games).

I’m not alone in thinking that playing video games with my family is a great idea. Though most academic studies have sadly just focused on violence in video games, some studies have shown that playing video games as a family improves relationships between generations, and leads to better family satisfaction and closeness. 

I am also excited this Christmas to get some of my old schoolmates back onto the Xbox to play things like COD Zombies or World at War when they come over. Drinking and going down the pub may be fun, but I think I’ll get equal enjoyment and a sweet, sweet hit of nostalgia from playing these games from my childhood, not on my own, but with my friends, like in the good old days.

So this Christmas, why don’t you dust off one of your old consoles, gather the family and get playing as a group again. Whether you choose to play old favourites like Mario Kart and Wii Sports, or more modern co-op games like Fifa or Rocket League, you’ll have a great time. There’s no better way to have fun and relax this holiday than playing video games with the people you love.

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