Video games can give us all a perfect Christmas, so why bother going home this year?

Animal Crossing

Things I am excited for this Christmas: free stuff, endless food, climbing inside boxes and pretending to be a space-lady. Things I am not looking forward to: being too old to be fawned over but still too young to be taken seriously, getting practical presents rather than Polly Pocket sets, being told to get out of the box.

In many ways, I'd rather just be sitting at home, in my pants, in my unheated flat, with nothing but the ladybird infestation for company, playing video games to keep myself warm over the long festive period. Family are great - they have heating and free food and they don't mind me using it for free - but really, don't video games offer a more picturesque version of the same thing?

Let's look at the evidence.

First (and most important), we have gifts. People often mutter things like "Remember the true meaning of Christmas" and while I haven't actually looked it up yet, I'm pretty sure it's presents. But surely video games can't replicate the joy of getting a really, really nice blender from your parents. Oh ho ho, my friend. Of course they can.

Take Harvest Moon, where you'll celebrate Christmas by the giving and receiving of gifts. Not only is this incredibly adorable, but for a budding farmer there's much more to play for here than in real life. Will you get that shiny new hoe you've been hoping for? Will the sweet gal you've been courting appreciate your offering of chocolates and also marriage? It really is the most wonderful time of the year, although that might be because the rest of the year is taken up by the growing and harvesting of turnips

Or how about Animal Crossing, which has a much more pragmatic approach to gift-giving. In real life, receiving an unwanted present means putting on a fake grin and saying thanks while you secretly work out how long you can keep said gift in your possession before flogging it on eBay. We don't want to hurt other people's feelings, do we?

But in Animal Crossing, your villager friends are so dense that they won't notice if you resell your presents. In fact, some of them might even buy them back. For money. That you get to keep. Why can't we do this in the real world, again?

You also don't have to worry about picking the wrong presents for other people. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf you actually get to dress as freakin' Santa Claus and deliver each villager their perfect gift, meaning you get that warm fuzzy feeling over and over again.

The Sims

What is missing from video games is your family and friends, of course. But is that really as bad as it sounds? After all, Christmas is that special time of the year where you rediscover just how terrible some of your family members' political, religious, and ideological views are. You'll realise that your grandparents treat the Daily Mail as gospel and your cousin's new job is drowning kittens.

Skip all that, I say. Spend your Christmas in the warm embrace of The Sims, where everyone is nice because you control them like the AI puppet master you are. Uncle Frank on another rant? No problem, just send him outside and delete the doors for an hour. Ahh, that's better.

So that's presents and family sorted - what about decorations? Enter Fallout 4's festive Diamond City makeover. It might be a bit more "radiation green" than white, but it's still damn colourful. You can spend the season chilling with fun friends like Takahashi the broken noodle bot, the mayor who hates you for some reason, and your sexy synth partner in crime, Nick Valentine. Well, maybe not crime, on account of him being a detective.


Ah, but one thing's missing: snow. Here's where things get really good, because many of us don't even get snow on Christmas day. Yet again, enter video games to show reality how it's done. Why not boot up Rockstar's fantastic Bully: Scholarship Edition, where you can delve into Chapter 3's Christmas mission and meet drunk homeless Santa before taking part in a huge snowball fight. Or, alternatively head over to a festively-themed Minecraft Christmas world. Sure, there are creepers… but at least they're not racist.

I could go on, but here comes the disclaimer: I am spending Christmas with my family. I fully expect disagreements over the table, and at least one person calling me a "leftie" or similar. I guess, in a lot of ways, video games are just trying to replicate the most Christmassy thing of all - being surrounded by people you love.

Still, I'm looking forward to virtual reality Christmas next year.