Several years ago, I moved from my small town home in Texas to New York City. The move itself was largely a welcome one, but there were a few drawbacks. Most of them were associated with the fact that I had decided to move in late November. This decision had two immediate effects:
The first, a harsh lesson in how greatly winters in the Northeast differ from the winters back home (otherwise known as 40 degree days).
The second, the realization that certain obligations in my new home would prevent me from flying back for Christmas.
It’s funny to think that the second effect hit me nearly as hard as the first when I look back and realize that I never really thought much about Christmas growing up. More accurately, I suppose I took it for granted. Every year, I’d go home, spend time with the family, admire the decorations, open presents and bathe in the splendor of the season. Now that the possibility of stepping into that world was gone, I realized how much I would miss the annual routine.
The idea of missing Christmas wasn’t necessarily depressing, but it did seem like a waste of the holidays. What I wanted was a place where I could bask in the spirit of the season without feeling like a complete outsider. It was feeling I couldn’t quite find in NYC, but it was waiting for me in Azeroth.
Every year, World of Warcraft plays host to the Feast of Winterveil; a very Christmas-like holiday celebration. Aside from the addition of some new content, the big draw of the event is the way most of the world is redecorated to fit the season. It’s not much, but it’s amazing how much it can mean to celebrate the holidays somewhere familiar with people who are equally eager to enjoy the time of year.
There aren’t many games that reinvent themselves for the season. Blizzard is actually one of the few companies that consistently take advantage of major holidays and redecorate their games accordingly. A cynical mind might say that they do it with profit in mind, but…well, you know, there’s actually probably a little truth to that. Regardless of the intent, it’s amazing how easily a few strings of light, some trees and a couple of digital presents can put a goofy smile on your face when they’re delivered at the right time of year.
My personal experience with these digital holiday celebrations means I might be a little biased regarding the subject, but perhaps it’s time for more developers to consider implementing seasonal events. Not just for the gamers who have nowhere else to be during that time, but for the ones who just want to enjoy the pleasure of touring a winter wonderland in some far off world.
Sometimes, we all need a digital home for the holidays.