Who needs Santa (a QotM answer)

December’s Question of the Month is brought to you by Daniel from Home Button: action-adventure fan, Nintendo aficionado and photo-mode lover. To find out more about him and his site, as well as how you can get involved, take a look at this post.

A lot of Later Levels visitors will already know just how much the Monkey Island series means to me. I’ve written about the reasons for this on several occasions: I first played The Secret of Monkey Island after receiving an Amiga 500 for Christmas as a nine-year old back in the very early 1990s and have loved adventure games ever since. This memory was the subject for my contribution to The Games That Define Us collaboration over on Normal Happenings last month.

I’ve also written about the time I gifted a PlayStation 4 to my other-half and stepson in 2015. I’d been doing my best to put them off for months before so my plan wasn’t spoiled but the lads made things tough: for example, Pete would continuously point out adverts showing Minecraft on the console and send Ethan into overdrive. I managed to pull it off though and the reactions on their faces were worth the effort. We spent the majority of that Christmas playing video games and streaming them on Twitch so friends and family could watch.

Ethan, Pete, Christmas, PlayStation VR

Then there was last year which turned out to be one of the best Christmases we’ve had despite not being able to spend the big day together. At a party, Ethan was asked what he was hoping to find under the tree and he said he’d love a PlayStation VR but wasn’t expecting one because it was ‘such a big present’. Little did he know that Pete and I had already been speaking to our families to organise everyone in clubbing together to get my stepson a single gift that he absolutely adored.

Thinking about these events makes me feel all warm and fuzzy but, as I’ve already shared them in past posts, I wanted to write about a different festive gaming memory for December’s QotM. It’s one I think I’ve mentioned on several occasions although have never dedicated an article to. Let me take you back a few years to when my other-half and I first met…

In 2014 I moved to a new part of Essex for a fresh start and, after a few months of living in my own town, I had the pleasure of bumping into Pete in a local pub. During a long conversation over a couple of beers we discovered that we’d grown up in the same city and on parallel streets, shared a similar sense of humour and both played video games. When he told me he’d made the trophies for Games World, that was it: I was hooked and there was no way he was getting rid of me.

We spent our first Christmas day together at his parent’s house (back on one of those parallel streets). I remember sitting on the living room floor with Pete and his brother, all of us frantically building LEGO sets for Ethan because he wanted to play but didn’t have the patience to put them together. Unfortunately the day was over far too quickly; being a step-parent family means splitting your time between two homes, and in the early evening we had to return him to his mum.

Pete and I headed back to my apartment afterwards, both feeling a little down about not being able to see the kid again until the following weekend. We needed something to distract ourselves and so we decided to turn to be best answer we could think of: video games. Instead of doing traditional Christmas things such as watching cheesy films or dozing on the sofa, we spent the night creeping around the Sevastopol space station in search of Ellen Ripley with nothing but a tub of Quality Street for company.

We stayed up until the early hours of the morning and ate way too much chocolate while trying to get as far through the game as possible. That damn Xenomorph just wasn’t having any of it though. We got to a certain point where we were trying to make our way through a dark corridor and every time the beast would drop though a vent in the ceiling and onto our heads. We started laughing when we realised how frustrated we were getting and decided to get some sleep – so we could return to the Sevastopol and try again the following day.

Alien: Isolation may not be the thing that immediately springs to mind when you think of festive activities, but it’s reminded me of this time of year ever since. And it must have done something right because it’s now several years later and Pete and I are getting ready to spend our fifth Christmas together. Who needs Santa when you’ve got Xenomorphs?

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