“Joy, Delight, Merriment, Fun = Video Games?”


Uh oh. Irresistible mirth is settling in. Christmas Day is almost here.

I’m a child when it comes to Christmas, truth be told. I love Christmas unconditionally. I love gladness, goodness, kindness, smiling at strangers, getting together with family, the lights, the carols and singing, the gift giving, the movies, the warmth, the letters, the lore. I’m the dude who wakes up his whole family on Christmas Day because it’s friggin’ Christmas. I have been binge watching as many Christmas movies as chronologically possible and essentially they’re all just about not being a jerk to other people and being happier for it. Well, except for Gremlins. I think that’s just about these Chinese monsters that enjoy Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

But what is Christmas itself about? Actually quite a few movies wrestle with that very question and many of us growing older experience a kind of the dulling of the magic, as it were. How you celebrate and if you celebrate at all is entirely up to you (the wonderful thing about freedom of and freedom from religion), so what Christmas means to you may vary from what it means to someone else. I think we can identify commonalities (at least among those who don’t outright hate the holiday) such as joy.

But what is joy? What is delight? What is that feeling of lightness and exhilaration? What is that exuberance which filled aged Ebenezer when he awoke in his own bed and his own body that Christmas morning after the three spirits? It’s life.

As I was driving earlier I thought about these things, and then I also thought about a conversation I had this week with our own Evergreen Sage Mage (who I can fortunately report has not been uprooted and turned into a Christmas tree). In our conversation, the question came up: What are games? As I kept reflecting, I thought on what are games about? Suddenly it clicked. I mean two different subjects clicked in my head: Christmas and games.

Yes of course games don’t celebrate the incarnation, nor are they secularized into giving gifts in the wintertime, but both Christmas and video games are similar. They are about bringing people joy. In trying to pin down what exactly video games are, what they’re meant to do and what they are not (just as important), I thought more so than the games as art discussion or the subject of interactivity or the comparison between games and other creative works like film and literature, the word that speaks most fundamentally to the essence of video games was said by the late, great Satoru Iwata:

“Above all, video games are meant to be just one thing: fun for everyone.”

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Couched in spiritual and cultural language, these words were ascribed to an emissary from the host of heaven:

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”

Video games and Christmas, generally speaking the same, though not of course in terms of the details which are vastly different.

My point however is this. Behind all of the talk we do around here in analyzing video games, breaking them down into identifiable parts and then examining them like bugs under a microscope, in all of the longwindedness and the critiquing, games are still fun. Being a critic doesn’t mean I suddenly start treating games like cold, unfeeling science, or that I should, or even that writing about them becomes another tedious job (though there is that pitfall to avoid). I don’t want to be one of those aloof or angry video game reviewers…

If I start forcing myself to play video games in order to get some reviews done, then that’s likely going to be the fastest route to sucking the joy right out of them. In the same sense, if you treat Christmas like a checklist or something you have to endure, then yeah it’s going to be pretty joyless. That’s been my experience in some years in my past but right now I’m about as holly jolly as anyone can get for everything that there is to celebrate in life.

Yesterday I attended the memorial service and burial of a young man and good friend who was so full of excitement and joy for life. Life is too short to be joyless. It’s too short to not pour into the relationships that mean something to us and spend real time with the people we care about. If wisdom is in the house of mourning, then that’s what hit home for me as we gathered to remember his life, and I fully expect to take that with me into this holiday.

So however you prefer it, this Red MageΒ wishes you all the joy you can stomach.Well-Red-Mage-Black-
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.

26 replies »

  1. Well said πŸ™‚ I’ll admit this holiday season was a bit rough for me, as 2017 was a horrible year of loss, but I still tried to enjoy it as much as possible. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, so I try to find something to celebrate every day! Also, the Home Alone reference at the end of the post is fantastic πŸ˜‰


  2. I love the mental image of you waking up your entire family on Christmas morning. I think it’s easy for adults to get all jaded about Christmas so it is heartening to see those who are still filled with joy this time of year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very well said and I couldn’t agree with you more. Christmas has alway been my favorite time of year and I love everything that comes along with it. We have been enjoying plenty of Christmas movies and music, going to see the lights, it has been a very memorable and fun one for my family. I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your friend, that is a wonderful lesson to take away from the heartbreaking event though and I hope that you and your family have an amazing Christmas morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I was enriched in knowing him in life and now that my friend has passed on, he left a bit of wisdom for my family and I, even in grieving. Tragic as it was, his passing somehow made this Christmas even deeper for us.

      We had a wonderful Christmas morning (though my kids beat me to waking up the whole family, darn!) and I hope you did as well. I refuse to let the joy die! There are still more joys to be had. I hope you have a happy New Year, my friend! Thank you for being a part of our little mage community here!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A wonderful reminder. Sorry for to hear about your friend.

    But I still hope you have a
    o<(ο½β€™βˆ€β€™)οΎ‰β˜†*:;;;:*β˜†Merry Christmasβ˜†*:;;;:*β˜†γƒ½(β€˜βˆ€β€™ο½)>o

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Y’know in some way, as much as his passing was a tragedy, I think a lot of us who knew him were enriched in remembering his life, especially at this time of year. It gave me a lot to think about and it made me cherish what I have all the more, which is a meaningfulness that I think he would’ve wanted. I hope you had a great Christmas and I wish you the happiest of New Years!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate that very much and I’ll take that as feedback. I tend to stray from the opinion pieces, especially those which contain very personal thoughts, since there’s always that thought nagging in the back of my mind that opinions can be controversial but I couldn’t pass up writing this one out. I hope you have a happy New Year, PP Mage!

      Liked by 1 person

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