Getting away with it.
C’mon, it’s Christmas! Probably the only time of the year that you’re going to get Auntie Doris to even contemplate holding something called a Dual Shock. So whack out the Egg Nog, get those Bongos down from on top of the wardrobe and join us for the ultimate Way of the Rodent guide to extended family gaming.
I have a memory of playing Daley Thompsons Decathalon on Christmas Day as a family.
I made a remark that when Daley celebrated it looked like he was doing something rude. I was thinking it was sticking his two fingers up at the crowd. I suspect my Dad thought I meant having a wank. I got a right ticking off.
Haven't really let that one go.
Pads seem to alienate people in my experience. Not as fun as a microphone or your entire body.
Your progeny probably don’t need much introduction to videogames. The secret here is to stop them loading up the games they want to play and to encourage something which the onlookers can understand. While watching your kid nail a hadoken may bring a glow of warm parental pride to your chest, it’s still unlikely to mean anything to the little darling’s Grandmother.
Eyetoy works well, but only really if someone's ready to make everyone else laugh by making a total fool of themselves. At a slow xmas session last year I made my not-really-getting-games family crease with laughter by pretending to take it really seriously, giving an intense commentary on super monkey ball while flapping my arms about like a broken albatross and swearing at my bro when I beat his best time.
Hit : Eye Toy
Eye Toy is ace for people who don’t really understand how games work so Grandma and Grandpa can encourage the young’uns from the sidelines without realising that they’re playing videogames. Two for one.
Eyetoy Play 3 has a wonderful little set of mini-games, with the athletics 110m hurdles being the most enjoyable four player experience of any game I have played in ages.
Four grown adults shoving their four year olds backwards and out of the way as they wave their arms wildly trying to get that gold medal...
Kids loved it as well though, some of the mini-games in there are just excellent family fun.
Miss : Eye Toy
Unfortunately, the kids will soon get embarrassed and will wander off for a quiet game of Animal Crossing or Condemned or something.
I bought the original EyeToy: Play when it came out and, although the novelty did wear of quite quickly, I don't think any other game has made me laugh so much or so hard. Absolutely hilarious watching your mates making fools of themselves. Perfect for Xmas Day after a bit of beer-age.
Those rampaging hormones will be demanding a blood sacrifice, but you’ll be wanting to divert that teenage angst – at least for long enough to eat your turkey.
Hit : Singstar
But only when the family have left and her mates have popped round for the traditional Christmas sneer.
DON - KEEEEEEEY KON - GAH!
Always good when there's people round with the two sets of bongos although I may well be immersed in Mario Kart DS for a good portion of the day...
Oh and of course Christmas Nights for that unmistakable fuzzy Christmas feeling. That's generally better for the runup to Christmas though.
Miss : Everything
If I say that this behaviour only lasts for three or four years, would that make you feel better? Would you believe me?
Secretly, your parents still view videogames as the work of the devil and something that you really should have grown out of by now. This is your chance to prove that all those evenings spent learning Lara Croft’s ‘special’ move weren’t wasted.
I see my brother, once a year, at Christmas, and we spend the time sitting in separate rooms, shooting each other. We play FPS’s on his home network. He laughs maniacally when he kills me; I unleash a barrage of gloating and swearing when I kill him.
It works, kinda.
Hit (Dad) : Total War
He’ll like the historical undertones and the feeling of power from ordering the little guys around and, most importantly, will recognise it from the telly. One for the quiet afternoon lull.
Hit (Mum) : Virtua Tennis
Will bring out your mum’s competitive side like no other game in creation.
“Why does Tim Henman look like a zombie son?”
“Dunno mum, I thought it was quite accurate. Press the green butt…”
Fifteen hours of labour! Payback time.
Miss : GTA
This will just reinforce all those negative vibes they’ve been harbouring for years. Hide the box and remember not to have too many conversations about the best tactics for drive by shootings with the kids.
Just keep her away from the Rez Trance Vibrator…
Hit : Nintendogs
Will bring all those long years of sexual frustration to the fore, reminding her that any chance she may have had to breed is long behind he… Aw, but look, aren’t those little puppies adorable!
Miss : Anything shooty
Actually, after being reminded of the long years of sexual frustration yada yada, she might want to take out her agression on something small and phallic. Best dig out that copy of Rez after all then.
Now we’re entering science fiction territory. We know that some girls like to play games, we’ve even met a few, but they’re seldom the games we think they’d like. Take that copy of Nintendogs back to the shop, she won’t think it’s ‘cute’, she’ll think it’s patronising.
All the SSX games have done this for me and the kids - even when Issy was too small to do it properly (SSX Tricky) she would unlock all these incredible shortcuts by refusing to do things the developer's way. Janet would play and Rosy and me too. It has been a very welcome snowy substitute for actual Christmas snow.
Otherwise, for more straightforward enjoyment, I'd say Singstar. Girls really do like it, my mum likes it. Heck, my kid likes it (Daddy, can we do the songin game again?). I think the only people it'll not work with are awkward teenage lads - my 11 year-old step bro even got well into it.
Hit: Games with Guns
Every girl knows how to shoot a gun. It’s built in, be prepared to be humiliated in front of your entire family.
Pink Nintendo DS. Fact - the only girls who like pink are either under-ten or criminally insane. Neither of these things counts as good girlfriend material.
Having to deal with a gamer over the Christmas period brings its own set of problems. Chances are that he’s bought, and completed, every game you can think of already and he will, if given half a chance, spend the whole day playing Gradius V or Gran Turismo or something
I have a plan. I'm going to claim I have an allergy to cashew nuts. When no one is looking I'll plunge the DS into the bowl of nuts and then proceed to make it look like I'm picking out all the ones I can't eat
We liked Buzz at work. The "host" drives you loopy after a while, though. They should have kept it simple, perhaps like Millionaire. And because it's generally modern music-based, you can forget an even match against granny. It'll be interesting to see future non-music editions - maybe even using the dedicated controllers for licensed quizzes like Trivial Pursuit.
Buzz should have been as well, only I beat the mrs 6000 points to 0 during our first game and it's been banned from the house - I forgot the golden 'give my mrs a false learning curve- rule there...
He plays enough games already, get him away from the screen for a bit and get him playing something vaguely social. He’ll thank you for it eventually. If he really starts pining for the computer, try getting him to play puzzle bobble using a Dance Mat or something – he’ll have fun being all hardcore and the rest of the family can stand at the back and laugh.
Miss: Resident Evil 4
Well, anything episodic basically. He may be having fun trying to get past that tricky bit with the zombie dogs but all that anyone else will see is a man in tight trousers running around in circles. And dying a lot. Remember boys, context is everything…