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Season's Gaming

Contributor:
Adrian Hatwell
Adrian Hatwell

This is my inaugural post as the gaming blogger for Voxy.co.nz and it looks to be a rather inauspicious start; once through with the obligatory introductions I plan on disappearing into the holiday season until the New Year, as I'm sure many of you do. Even so, I thought it best to make some noise sooner rather than later, let you readers know where I would like this blog to go, and get down to some serious gaming talk.

Firstly, hello, my name is Adrian Hatwell, I am a longtime videogame enthusiast whose gaming habits lie somewhere between casual and the lunatic fringe. I currently write for the wonderful Gamefreaks Magazine where I cover all three major consoles. I am looking forward to further exploring game culture on this blog in a less regimented format than print magazine.

I am a passionate advocate of videogames and am excited by the culture's exponential growth in current times. Gamers are now the majority and what it means to be a gamer has exploded in all manner of exciting new directions. I believe that media coverage of gaming ought to appeal to as wide an audience as games themselves do, and it is my hope that this blog can be a part of a space that is accessible and interesting to readers of all stripes, not just the hardcore contingent.

Blogging is the perfect medium for just such an aim as it facilitates conversation beyond borders, allowing anyone to join in the dialogue. I hope readers will feel compelled to do so here, regardless of your gaming credentials. Be you a clinically diagnosed World of Warcraft addict or someone whose experience began and ended with Pac-Man circa 1981, it would be fantastic to hear from you.    

And so, in the spirit of the above hopes and aspirations, I now offer to you my personal plan for surviving the Silly Season, gaming-wise:

The Night Before Christmas: The lull before the festive chaos will likely be your last chance to knock off a few games previously jumped into but not yet finished.

Exploring the stunning, painterly environments of the new Prince of Persia game ought to provide the right atmosphere for a relaxed but expectant Christmas Eve. Or perhaps the frantic but relatively pacifist action of parkour-based action title Mirror’s Edge would set the appropriate tone. Fast passed but more cerebral than your average run-and-gun game, there’s nothing like overthrowing a totalitarian regime and liberating a conformist dystopia before Santa comes calling.

The Big Day:
Traditionally a flurry of relatives, wrapping paper, and revelry, party games are the order of the day come Christmas. For family-friendly games to engage those not traditionally interested in gaming the Nintendo Wii is the system to turn to.

Classic, simple mini-game collections like Wii Sports, Carnival Games, and WarioWare ought to keep young and old transfixed in heated competition. Alternatively one could bust out Nintendo’s balance board and Wii Fit to demonstrate for those Grinchy types just how broad and inclusive the appeal of gaming is these days.

The Aftermath: If your finances aren't in complete disarray then the frenzied Boxing Day Sales are ideal for picking up the many titles you inevitably missed upon initial release. Though they weren't billed as AAA releases at launch snagging cheap copies of offroad racer Pure, strategy heavy RPG Valkyria Chronicles, or quirky action RPG The World Ends With You will make for a well rounded game collection.

If you're still a bit strapped for cash then downloadable titles can be a thrifty alternative. Both Castle Crashers and Braid are things of beauty to be discovered on Xbox Live Arcade, and Ninetndo's WiiWare channel offers some offbeat chunks of wonderful with the likes of Lost Winds and My Life As King.

In Between: With the Christmas hangover fading and New Year's revelry just waiting to erupt, the interim period is often a time of travel. Any modern adventurer worth their salt knows that the one absolute essential for travel is Nintendo's portable gaming system the DS.

Keep your mind in shape with the myriad of training games developed to enhance cognitive prowess; test said prowess with puzzlers like Professor Layton and the Curious Village and classic Sudoku; or romp through more conventional genre titles like Final Fantasy IV and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. No matter how tediously long your voyage may be, the Nintendo DS should have you covered (at least until the battery dies.)        

The Party: If you're looking to inject a little gaming into your boisterous New Year's plans then, like Christmas, party games are the way to go. Of course pleasing the whole family is no longer the end goal; something a little more raucous is called for. The natural go-to titles are Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Singstar - party-starters that just get better as the night gets messier.

The Hangover:
Like Christmas Eve, the bleary-eyed beginning of the New Year is the perfect time to catch up on all the solo gaming that you didn't manage to wade through during the year gone by. You’re unlikely to open the curtains, stand up too quickly, or even think about talking to another human being for a while, but the recovery period need not be a total write-off.

While huddling away from the world make sure you've at least sampled the biggest, most hyped, and most important titles of '08, including Fallout 3, Fable 2, Grand Theft Auto 4, LittleBigPlanet, Spore, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Far Cry 2.

That's a lot of gaming to cram into a short, busy period of time, so I think I had best get started. If you've got the time I'd love to hear what games will be keeping you all sane over the holidays.

See you on the other side.

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