Tell us your favourite Christmas gaming memory and you could win a game of your choice

UPDATE 22nd December: You do not disappoint! I’ve laughed, I’ve wiped away a tear or two, and I’ve had my heart well and truly warmed. Thank you — thank you to all of you who shared a memory. I’ve genuinely had a lovely time reading them.

I noticed a few themes popping up. Frankly, it’s alarming how sneaky some of you are! The number of you who were able to find your presents ahead of time and then sneak them out of their boxes, play with them, then return them to their boxes afterwards — without a trace — was shocking. I’m very impressed. It actually made me feel quite sorry for your parents, until I realised what they were doing to you, the trolling that they did. There were countless memories about crestfallen children thinking they’d missed their heart’s desires, only to have their parents spring a last-minute surprise and turn it all around again. What a rollercoaster. Some plans were quite elaborate too.

What really touched me, though, was the sense of respect and gratitude in so many of your memories, about what your parents went through to enable the memories in the first place. It’s easy for people to forget that at this time of year — especially children — so to hear the recognition in some of your stories really got me. So too did the memories of families coming together over games, whether they did it routinely as part of a Christmas tradition, or came together only for the day. It didn’t often matter what the game or machine was, it was the people gathered around to play it that was the point.

Those kinds of memories are of course magnified when the people involved in them are now no longer with us. They might be friends we no longer see or loved ones who’ve passed on; whoever they were, you do them an honour by holding their memories so strongly still.

So to our winner. There were so many wonderful stories it was incredibly hard to choose just one. MarcusJ, Makovnik, jesper, fabio78 — all of your memories deserve a special mention. So too does George Roper for their almost Dickensian tale of kindness. But the story that won my heart was Sarah Koeck’s. It’s the story of friends coming together to make someone’s Christmas unforgettable, and I’ll reprint it here — with a couple of minor edits — so you don’t have to scroll to find it.

Merry Christmas everyone — see you in the New Year.

«I’ve always been a huge Nintendo fan girl and I almost got every console whenever it came out. When the Switch got announced, I was so hyped for it but my parents had recently divorced so we didn’t have the money to buy it. Years go by. I moved out from home, got my own job, and I was saving up money for it but due to the move, and a bunch of stuff getting broken around the apartment, I always had to use some of the money to fix things.

«Me and my friends have this wonderful yearly tradition that we all meet up together on New Year’s Eve to celebrate Christmas together and end the year with an awesome gaming night. Three people, including me, also have our birthdays in December, so we always celebrate them together on that day as well.

«One of our favourite things to play during these nights is Mario Kart — I honestly don’t know how we’re all still friends after so many Blue Shell traumas! — and that year Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was released as well. We usually celebrate at my place so I prepared everything, but of course I didn’t have a Switch, so we couldn’t play it.

«Every one of my friends knew how long I’d been saving for a Switch, but things just never added up and I simply couldn’t afford it. When we exchanged gifts, I was a bit confused because a lot of my friends were on their phones, which usually never happens during unwrapping presents. What I didn’t realise was that they were filming me (I still have the video saved on my phone).

«Those crazy people had put their money together to buy me a Switch including Mario Kart and Super Mario Odyssey. I was so happy that I jumped and I cried, but I was also very unsure about the gift because I didn’t feel I deserve something so expensive for my Christmas/Birthday present. But what they said next was what made this the most beautiful memory: they bought it because our game nights together were always one of the most precious days of the year, and they wanted to thank me for always organising it despite how stressful Christmas is for all of us.

«Even to this day, I can’t believe they did something so sweet for me, even though I know every single one of them has their own problems in life. Even after so many years, we still meet up and celebrate Christmas together, and I’m so grateful for them being part of my life.»

ORIGINAL STORY 19th December: We’re doing another ‘gaming memory’ competition and this time we’re theming it around the Christmas break. What are your favourite memories of gaming around Christmas? Share yours in the comments below and if we choose it as our favourite, you’ll win a prize!

The prize is a £70 voucher for your game platform of choice. But note that because we’re buying the voucher from the UK, some platforms will restrict where you can redeem it. On PlayStation and Xbox, you’ll only be able to redeem in the UK, whereas on Switch, you’ll be able to redeem across Europe, and on Steam, anywhere (it converts the money into your currency).

If you win, I’ll email you on Friday and we’ll try to work something out, so keep an eye on your inbox.

We’ve run a few of these gaming memories competitions in 2023. There was one where we asked for your favourite Zelda gaming memories, one where we asked for your favourite Star Wars gaming memories, and one where we asked for your favourite Street Fighter gaming memories. So if you’re looking for any guidance or inspiration, those are a great place to start.

More importantly, perhaps, the comments on those pieces are incredibly wholesome reminders of why it is we play games at all. Or why people play games at all, because let’s face it, sometimes people ask. There are comments about families coming together, or comments about unforgettable gaming feats, or — simply — comments that provide a good laugh. They’re heartwarming, they’re human, they’re personal. They’re all brilliant.

For me, it’s World of Warcraft that springs to mind. It was Christmas 2005 and I was delivering a speech to my guild on an airfield you’re not supposed to be able to get to, deep in enemy Alliance land. And I didn’t realise it then but in about a weeks’ time, I would leave the game for good, having finally accepted it played too large a part in my life.

That day, though, it was all about looking ahead to a bright raiding future with the people I’d come to care about. We cheered, we laughed, and we spent the rest of the day causing whatever trouble we could in the Alliance city of Ironforge. It was a happy day. Now, it’s a poignant memory. It’s the best and perhaps worst of World of Warcraft all in one.

So, what’s your Christmas gaming memory?

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