In case you weren't aware (and I'm willing to wager many of us weren't), September 12th is the US National Video Game Day -- a 24 hour celebration of all things both video-y and game-y, and probably even both of those things together.
It's supposed to be a revel in the digital. An 8bit party. A look back on cutscenes and Water Temples of yore. Dusting off old Ataris and reminiscing about elder times where dinosaurs roamed the earth and Pac-Man was cutting edge.
At least...we're pretty sure it is. While the whole "video games are awesome" vibe is pretty apparent, the actual concept of the holiday is a little less clearly defined than we found acceptable in the era of "60 FPS or bust."
So with that we mind, we decided to break down the vague button-mashing mess that is National Video Game Day, and offer a few more specialized holidays that might do the gaming world a bit more good.
Let's kick things off slow with "Single Planetary Rotation Hyper-optimization of Core Mechanical and Strategic Elements of Recently Recruited Personnel in Matters of Multi-platform Interactive Media" -- or, if that's a little deep for you...
Look, we've all been there. It was the first time for each and every one of us at some point or another, spinning in circles and firing wildly into the sky...or floor...a few walls...anywhere but where we were supposed to be shooting, really.
And what better way is there to enjoy the comraderie of gaming than to take a fledgling gamer under your wing and teach them how to shoot at...no, not that, you have to...seriously? It's right there. It's the thing shooting at you. How do you not see it? Just go right...no, your other right. Go back. That right. Yeah, now just...no, shoot AT the...run. Just run. Run before you d- you're dead now. You died.
What do you mean how? You were eating bullets like they were a big bowl of Shooty-Os. Look, just...it's okay. You're fine. Just hit okay. We'll try it again, alright? Just...how did you get back to the menu? What buttons are you even pressing? Lemme...lemme see the controller.
What a disaster...
Huh? No, nothing. I didn't say anything. Look, maybe we should play something easier until you get used to it. What about, like, Mario Kart? You wanna play Mario Kart? Sure. Let's play that.
...what does the red shell do? Here, I'll show you. Just sit still for a second. No, no. Don't worry. It's fine. It'll all be over soon.
Now sure, a lot of gamers new and old are going to be perfectly fine, well-adjusted people. They grew up in fine households, doing fine things, feeling fine, being fine. A lot of gamers are totally fulfilled human beings with no issues whatsoever.
Some of us though might have been left a little wanting on some fronts. For example, some of us simply didn't have a dad or mom growing up for one reason or another -- and it was hard. Most of the kids in school had a whole family. In fact, most kids we knew did...but we didn't. That kind of thing can really leave some younger gamers, as I once was, feeling a little left out. A little odd.
Luckily, as I discovered online gaming, I also found a new source of solidarity with my joystick swiveling compatriots. Many of them, and I mean many (currently somewhere in the neighborhood of 521,600 at last count, though I might've lost track a few times) of them, male and female, could somehow sense this void in my life. They compassionately tried to convince me that it was in fact they who had romantic relations with my mother (and sometimes father), and were in fact that missing other parent. Now, I know that can't be true for all of them -- I'm no registered genetical guyologist, but I'm pretty sure the biological parent count tops out at like...10. 20, max. Right? But it was the thought that they wanted to be, or pretended to be, totally and unselfishly for my benefit, that really spoke to me.
It's that kind of enthusiasm for trying to support your fellow gamers that really deserves its own holiday. These men and women (though the online microphone distorts their voice so that they sound as if they are only prepubescent children, strangely) know the hardships feeling unwanted can bring, and so are doing their duty to make everyone feel important and included as often (and as incredibly vocally) as they can. You can almost feel the love with every tea bagging motion they perform upon your laser-riddled corpse, as they do their best to convince you they are your parent (usually, for some reason, by way of graphic retellings of your conception).
Heroes, they are. Big damn heroes -- and big heroes need holidays.
It might seem awfully specific, but really -- just how underappreciated are the map makers of the virtual landscape? How often do the praises of those electronic explorers go unsung?
I mean, could you imagine exploring all over Cyrodil without a map? Would Summoner's Rift feel the same without the miniature layout? How could we Fast Travel without the folks that distill the whole world into readable picture form? Granted, I'm not sure what terrible dark wizardry is afoot when it comes to Fast Travel -- but I have been led to believe that its practice 100% relies upon access to a map.
Of course they deserve a holiday! We would be lost without them. Literally. 100% lost. These mountains all look the same, and I'm almost positive I've been walking in circles for the last hour.
Even worse off than your everyday unappreciated video game mapmaker, though, are those fine craftsfolks behind minimaps.
Were you aware that literally no one playing games online ever knows there's a minimap? Out of the millions or billions of people that play video games, it seems as if not a single one is ever cognizant that there even is a minimap, much less how to properly use one (hint: look at it. LOOK AT IT). And so, these noble programmers are left unnoticed -- their work unappreciated day after day, game after game...no matter how much salt spills from your eyes and profane utterings.
A national Holiday in their honor would not only draw us a map directly to those we have to thank for our virtual cartographic wonders, but also maybe...just maybe...it would draw attention to the many wonderful maps and minimaps that exist in games, and open many new eyes to the secrets they hold.
Like...incoming enemies, for example.
Those might be good to notice sometimes.
Not all holidays are joyous events. Some are solemn days where we as a society are drawn to awareness of a major issue or happening -- to reflect upon it and to help those affected by it.
Granted, usually these holidays are about physical illnesses and are more accurately called holi-months, but we felt like the list would be incomplete without at least one day in remembrance of all those friends and gamers who have been lost to the terrible black hole that is the RPG.
Bags upon empty bags of potato chips. Piles of forgotten Mountain Dew bottles. Stacks of unwashed bowls. PRIMA strategy guides or browser histories with GameFAQS. These are all telltale signs.
World of Warcraft. The Elder Scrolls. Fallout.
There are many names for this monster that hides our loved ones from us. When I battled with it, it was called Suikoden, or Final Fantasy -- some substrains of the menace that experts titled a "JRPG".
An awareness holiday of the all-consuming void of the RPG would help each of us take a moment to remember to seek out those wretched souls chained to their platforms. To take them by the hand and say:
"No, no it's okay. You don't have to do this. Come with me. Come away from the game. You don't have to spend your whole life grinding skeletons for cheese wheels. Yes, the mudcrubs will still be there tomorrow. You don't have to do this anymore. Life can be better than this."
While we're talking mostly U.S. national celebrations, there's certainly room for at least one of the top 5 gaming holidays to be more globally focused -- gaming is a worldwide phenomenon, after all.
Just think -- in the span of a few decades, gaming has brought together players from all over the world in countless millions of games, working in utmost harmony and support of each other.
Truly, there is little more inspiring when I'm online and a French teammate tells me, in slightly off-kilter Frenglish, that I am absolutely "merde". It's been awhile since I took French in high school, but if my memory serves me correctly that means "wonderful".
And isn't the international online experience just that? Merde? I think it is. Brilliantly, wonderfully merde, as the players across the globe come together in civility and respect to have a good game together.
As far as I have been able to discern from Dota 2 and CS:GO, the Russian phrase for "good game" is something like "cyka blyat", I believe.
So in the spirit of this potential gaming holiday -- and the one closest to my heart -- Cyka Blyat, International Gaming Experience Day. You are truly, almost impossibly, "merde".
Don't believe me? Go ask anyone who's been lucky enough to experience it themselves -- the beauty of language barriers and overcoming them. They'll surely enjoy the thought of this holiday based on understanding across borders and shared, positive experiences. Who wouldn't?
So here's to you, gamers. Whether it's shooters or racers you're into, strategy games or fighters, CCGs or farm life cow-milking simulators, you're an incredible bunch with an incredible pastime. As the medium continues to evolve and grow, and so do our numbers, gaming is becoming a whole new world each and every year -- and we have largely ourselves to thank.
Other things may get a single holiday, but you? You deserve at least five. Of course, there's always next year too - so if we left any Holidays out that you think should be added to the calender, drop us your sweet idea in the comments below! There's always room for another when it comes to celebrating our shared passion, and the people that make it possible -- you.