The older a person gets, the more exciting holidays become. Gone are the days of long winter breaks and realizing that you only have to worry about how you will spend the time. You won't be turning on television to watch holiday specials at random, especially on PBS. Suddenly you are an adult. That is a scary situation.
Video games, believe it or not, can provide more than an outlet after the obligatory time with relatives that have dumped their baggage on you. You can remember important parts about the winter vacation before losing your temper, or your patience. Here are some ways they can help.
Healthy outlets for anger
You can't get mad at people on Christmas. Well, you can, but it can leave the worst feeling inside of you. You don't want to be miserable on a holiday meant for joy, and the negative feelings feel much heavier as a result. If you have an hour or two free, then playing a rage game can help you release those negative feelings with minimal consequences, apart from using up a bit of your time.
The right video game allows you to get angry at video game characters that aren't real. Some games are morally ambiguous (with Undertale outright calling you out for treating the characters like expendable excuses for you to cause them pain). Others, like Spelunky, make it more than okay for you to hurt innocent damsels and dogs if you wish.
Spelunky has been entertaining me during these holiday sessions. I have a love-hate relationship with the game because it is super difficult and keeps throwing curveballs, but to its credit, the game is very upfront about these facets. Despite the fact that the game is frustrating, it can save you from screaming at a real person.
Explore complicated feelings
Story-rich games often feature complex plots. Some that feature dysfunctional relationships can give you an outside perspective or a form of catharsis. You can see dichotomies in good story.
When my grandfather died, I shut down. Talking about these emotions was no good. There was this numbness. Playing a game about someone losing a grandparent allowed me to mourn...properly.
I played a lot of games with fluctuating mother-daughter relationships this year. Note that this probably wasn't subconscious; one game came through a code, while the other two were on Steam from creators that I knew and trusted. Seeing one girl turn away from her mother, another become completely estranged and a third mourn what she lost, allow one to just sit and think when your own parent expresses complicate feelings. Then you can survive socialization.
Choose your friends and family
In real life, our living situations are different compared to how they may be in fiction. We don't control who is related to us, and societal obligation can become our downfall. Those obligatory family visits can drain a person and leave you feeling awkward. Especially if you are used to a low-key Christmas with no pressure or socialization, having to don a pleasant demeanor and ignore any past history can drain a person.
In fiction, we get to choose who we want to be for a brief amount of time. It isn't real, but we get to dive into another world. We get to become another person, figure, or character. In some cases we don't even have a face, so we can imagine ourselves as anyone. This escape can help in small doses. Doing it too many times can get people to yell at you.
It's why something like Stardew Valley appeals to people, or even being the impostor in Among Us. Stardew is about winning people over to start a new life, and prove that you are worthy of loving. In Among Us, you can choose to be the bad guy. In a magical girl story like Princess Farmer, you can save a land from evil by harvesting vegetables.
I hope everyone has a calm holiday, and starts the new year off right. Here's to 2023 having less drama!
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