The curious case of the Xbox Series X

This has possibly been the weirdest Christmas ever. Here in the south-east of the UK, we were moved into tier 4 lockdown restrictions with only five days’ notice and this meant we were no longer allowed to see family and friends during the festive period.

There was a range of emotion as my other-half and I listened to the announcement. On one hand we were pleased that action was being taken to keep everyone safe; but on the other, we weren’t looking forward to dealing with the reaction of certain difficult family-members when we told them we were no longer coming to visit. And then there was the fact we’d have to tell my stepson Ethan that we now wouldn’t be able to see him at Christmas – the first time we’d been allowed to have him on the day for five years.

The small relief was that Pete and I had taken the decision to give him his present the night before. We knew Ethan wouldn’t get much time to use it the following weekend as we were due to spend Christmas and Boxing Day with family, so it had seemed fair to let him have it early. Although we now wouldn’t be able to have him stay with us for a few weeks thanks to the increased risk of COVID-19, at least he’d be able to get some enjoyment from his gift before we had to say goodbye.

You see, my stepson had been hinting that he wanted an Xbox Series X since the reveal of the consoles last summer. We told him that we’d give him money for Christmas to put towards the console but he’d need to take on the responsibility of saving up the rest himself. After keeping his birthday and pocket-money safe for six months, he talked about nothing else during the lead-up to the holidays and constantly nagged us for updates on whether we’d been able to get one whenever he heard news about limited stock.

We’d sat Ethan down after dinner on the evening before the tier 4 announcement and explained he could choose to have his gift early – but he needed to be aware that the offer came with several caveats. First, he must give us his payment towards the cost of the console before the end of the weekend. Second, he would need to spend ‘proper’ time with family-members over Christmas instead of talking at them constantly about his Xbox or whichever game he was playing (something he’s very prone to doing).

Finally, a new three-strike rule would be imposed regarding noise. He’d gradually been getting louder while playing online with friends in recent weeks and we found ourselves going up to his room to tell him to keep it down more frequently. If this happened too many times, the console would now be taken away for the rest of the day. (We were aware Ethan would agree to anything just to get his hands on the Xbox and had one of the most peaceful nights we’d had in ages.)

My stepson’s eyes lit up the moment the box was placed down on the table. The look on his face was one of genuine amazement: he couldn’t believe we’d managed to get our hands on a console and it was sitting there right in front of him. We had to urge him to actually touch it after he sat staring at it for a few minutes, and he snatched his hand away quickly because he was so nervous. He couldn’t even bring himself to open the box and eventually Pete had to do it for him.

Ethan spent that weekend playing the same games he would have done if he were still using his Xbox One and saw no major graphical improvements thanks to his old television. I struggled to wrap my brain around the extent of his excitement; I can’t bring myself to see the new consoles as anything other than just another piece of hardware nowadays and, if my current hardware can still run the titles I want to play, then owning the latest equipment doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

I understand my stepkid’s enthusiasm if there were more new releases for the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5, but currently most of them are either available on the older consoles too or are just remakes and remasters of existing games. The only upcoming titles Ethan has asked about were ones we told him he was too young to play. Personally, it’s only Horizon Forbidden West and Fable IV which have caught my attention so far – but with no release dates announced yet, who knows when we’ll get the chance to experience them.

Watching the kid’s reaction to his Christmas present that evening made me realise that I’ve not been excited about anything gaming-wise for a long time. This isn’t just to do with the lack of new titles, delays to games I was looking forward to or the now-common unrealistic level of hype. 2020 has been a tough year for everybody and we’re still feeling its effects going into 2021; months of lockdown and fear have brought on a lack of motivation and enthusiasm, and sometimes it takes all your effort just to stay on an even emotional keel.

I want to be that eager again though. To look forward to trying the bargains I managed to pick up during the latest Steam sale, to find a game I’m totally hooked on, to experience a story I can’t stop thinking about long after I’ve completed it. Perhaps finding Yakuza 0 after becoming curious about it during a stream last month by Nathan of Gaming Omnivore is the start; I’ve already completed over 25 hours at the time of writing and I’m having a lot of fun mashing buttons around the streets of Kamurocho so far.

I guess the only thing we can do is try to be more like my stepson was that night, to look for the joy in small events and then use those feelings to push us forward to more positive times. It’s difficult and we’re all struggling, but we will get there. I wish you all the best for 2021 and hope you find some brightness in the coming months.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
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35 thoughts on “The curious case of the Xbox Series X

  1. I’ve been kinda feeling the same re: the new consoles. And hell, where Xbox is concerned, about the only reason I really want one is to be able to play Halo LoL

    I don’t have a 4K TV, not that I mind, and while I’d very much like to have a PS5, I’ve been content with the thought of waiting a while and let them work out the initial bugs before I bother. But I’ve been dealing with the gaming ennui as well and I miss being excited about it. And yet, every time I manage to log on for a live stream, I always end up being glad that I did. Go figure LoL

    I’m sorry things had to be locked down again for y’all, but I’m so glad that your kiddo had such infectious excitement for his Christmas present! Sincerely hoping that this next Christmas will find y’all getting to be together without the need for such restrictions! ❤


    • I totally know what you mean about streaming. I’ve been finding that I’ve really had to push myself to work up the motivation to do it, but then have good time by the end of it. Hopefully the time off over Christmas will help us all with the enthusiasm levels going into 2021!

      Sometimes it’s hard to believe how weird the past year has been. It’s far too easy to let the situation suck the positivity out of you so that’s something I’m going to try and fight against this month. Hope you’re doing well and keeping safe over there. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes!!! Agreed so much! I’m planning on trying to get back to it this week (been off since around Thanksgiving/late-November since I was bogged down with holiday craziness) and I’m looking forward to being back, but I’m just hoping my spoons will cooperate 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

        Thankfully got to start this year off with more hope in life in general, so we’ll see what happens! 😁

        Thanks so much and I hope the same for you and yours! 💜

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I went the other way, started playing Dead Space again at another attempt to finally finish this game. My thinking, well, life can’t be as bad as turning into a zombie like alien hybrid…its ‘a’ form of reasoning….

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Life can’t be as bad as turning into a zombie-like alien hybrid.” Now that’s a piece of advice I’m going to be telling myself every time I’m on an annoying conference call this week. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Heh heh… I’m 39 and I think I feel a similar level of hype for the PS5… not sure what that says about me! 😬😛 I like the discipline you’ve invoked for the noise issue. I’m going to remember that for when my son grows up! 😅


    • What it says about you is that you’re a very positive person at heart, and not as old or cynical as I am. 😆

      Ethan is a good kid and we’re really lucky in terms of his behaviour – but the noise level seems to be the one thing he can’t keep control of. I’m hoping this new three-strike rule is going to work because peaceful Friday and Saturday evenings would be lovely! ha ha


  4. I’m just about as crusty as they come, but I try to remember a lesson that a co-op student of mine once taught me. Anytime something good happened, regardless of how big or small, he said we should go out and celebrate with beers. His outlook was one of continually celebrating the small victories because if you only celebrated the big ones you’d constantly keep looking for bigger and bigger things to celebrate and you’d never acknowledge all of the milestones that led to those big victories.

    Not exactly comparable, but a similar mindset can be applied to gaming. I don’t think it’s healthy to lose one’s shit in hyperbole and marketing, but enjoying the games you enjoy and celebrating that fact might help to make one’s self a little less jaded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t believe it’s you giving me advice on how to be positive, Frosti. Either I’m going to shake off the apathy and become more enthusiastic… or end up being drunk all the time. (Joking!) 🤣

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m acutely aware of my own flaws and am even more critical of them then I am of video games, or others. 😛

        Still tho – we could both use a bit of work in the “being less jaded” department. Just so we’re not so crusty toward others. XD

        Here’s to the journey forward.


  5. Is this a feeling of being ‘told’ you should be excited? Not directly but by the trends in gaming media and Twitter (etc.) demanding attention on the topics of next-gen consoles and games ‘you must play because they are the best ever, GOTY!’ I feel it goes for TV and movies too.

    For example I hate being told I should watch or play something because it’s the flavour of the month and prefer to discover things in my own impulsive way. It’s why I’m more likely to go and buy a particular game, TV show or movie I want to enjoy instead of endlessly scrolling around Amazon Prime, Netflix or Game Pass for my next fix from the limited selection of titles they’ve manged to license that month.


    • Ah… you know me so well… 😆

      Part of the problem is that almost every big release nowadays declares itself to be game-of-the-year, regardless of when it comes out or what players think of it. I now automatically switch off when I hear those words and go find something else to play – like Blacksad or Chicken Police, obviously.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad Ethan has been enjoying the new console! I’m still torn as to whether to go Xbox or PS5 (when stock permits) because of certain things like Bethesda acquisition on one side and FFVII Remake Pt. 2 on the other 😄

    I know what you mean with no feeling the same level of hype. FFVII Remake last year made me really excited because it was an important game to meeting when I was younger, but that was the first time in a long time I had been properly giddy. Maybe it’s old age or perhaps because a lot of game releases just don’t live up to expectations 😄

    Wishing you and Pete all the best for the year (look forward to more Sneaky Pete in 2021!)


    • I think it definitely has something to do with expectations. There’s way too much hype surrounding every big release now and it’s so hard for any game to live up to it; so what’s the point in being excited if we know we’re always going to be let down? That’s not a great outlook to have though and one I’m going to try to change this year. The same as you, I want that ‘giddy’ feeling again. 🤔

      Perhaps 2021 is the Year of Sneaky Pete? I’m not so sure that’s going to happen, but we’ll see! ha ha

      Liked by 1 person

      • That outlook seems sensible, though maybe we’re just becoming more jaded as gamers 😄 we’ve all seen too much haha

        2021 might indeed be the year of Sneaky Pete! Maybe a no-powers, ghost run of Dishonored 2 is on the cards 😁


  7. That sort of plays into my decision for getting a Series S – I get access to the Xbox library I missed out on last gen with my PS4, it costs less, it still loads fast and looks great, and I get to have a new next-gen console. I really do not need more than that, and even my incredible excitement for Horizon Forbidden West includes the fact that when the time comes, I could just get it on PS4… Not sure yet though, playing that on the prettiest settings possible is tempting!

    This post did bring me back to childhood and that ridiculously brilliant excitement you can have for a new console or game. I still get it from time to time, for example when a series I love has a new entry (such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Last of Us Part II, and the upcoming sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). Also I find it amusing your rule about stop talking about games to people at Christmas – I totally did that when I was younger (and, um, clearly with the blogging, it hasn’t really stopped)!


    • It’s become a bit of a joke in our family… you’ll be halfway through a conversation, and Ethan will begin talking about whatever game he’s playing without skipping a beat. It’s kind of funny to what the confusion dawn on others’ faces when they realise he has started talking about something completely different while they’re still on the same subject, but we know it’s something we need to get under control. 😆

      Maybe I’ll feel like a kid again when Fable 4 is released? The first game in the series was a big one for me and I’ve taken the release day off of work for each follow-up just so I could play it. Here’s hoping…


  8. Nice score on the Series X! Glad to hear about Ethan’s excitement in getting one, I remember that feeling of getting a console for Christmas(usually combined with my birthday). When I have a hard time generating any sort of enthusiasm for most things(in my old age), video games are something I still find myself getting genuinely excited about.


    • The situation over the past year has taken its toll. I still get that excited feeling when going to expos, seeing new games, adding them to my wishlist and then eventually getting to play them – but all that has been postponed (understandably) until we get through the pandemic. I know it’ll happen again one day and until then, I just need to stop being so cranky and looking for the positive things in life!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great to hear the youth of today is still able to find joy in these things despite every soul-crushing thing going on around us right now. I’ve been enjoying my Series X on games that don’t even really take advantage of it, but that SSD has been absolutely worth the price of admission alone for me. Finally stuff loads in a reasonable amount of time, meaning more time playing.

    The new and more interesting/shiny games will come, I’m sure, but for now, it is fun to breathe new life into old games and enjoy those for the first time or for the 10th!

    Really looking forward to Blacksad by the way!


    • I’m still not sold on the new consoles and think I’m going to stick to my PC, but I’d love for some new releases to get giddy over. Most of the upcoming games I was looking forward to in 2020 ended up being delayed – which is understandable, yet still a little disappointing. Hopefully they’ll make an appearance this year.

      And until then, there’s always Blacksad… hopefully this is the game that gets me excited again!


  10. You two are parenting goals!
    I think to your son the Series X is like a shiny new toy and I bet he knows that this console is for the future also.

    I do agree with you though, at present you can say there is no need to currently own a Series X. I myself am waiting for the games to make the most of the new hardware to come out first. So I only bought the PS5 this time around. Good thing for my wallet!


  11. My son makes a lot of noise too playing online… I randomly jump into his room screaming stuff out at him when he does it so his friends can overhear and that tends to quieten him down for a while. Anything to avoid further embarrassment… lol


    • Me as a kid, after being embarrassed by my parents in front of my friends: “I’m never going to to that to my children.”

      Me as a stepmum: “Mwuhahahaha!”

      Liked by 1 person

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