Five video games for coping with the holiday blues cover image

Five video games for coping with the holiday blues

Christmas season got you down? Check out our list of five video games to help fight the holiday blues and avoid a bummer Christmas.

The Christmas season isn't all presents, snacks, and good times. Then again, I don't have to tell you that. Once in awhile we all experience a blue, blue blue blue Christmas as Elvis once described. And yet, I've found that the holiday blues can be helped through video games. We all have our own coping mechanisms. But seeing as this is a website about video games, I guess you could see where this was going.

So whether you're heading home for the holidays or dreaming of a white Christmas, here's five video games to help fight the holiday blues and fend off any Grinch-like holiday tendencies.

Holiday blues video games: Spiritfarer

We all need a good cry sometimes. And, wouldn't you know, Thunder Lotus' 2020 release Spiritfarer kept my eyes from being dry for a solid week. A somewhat quirky indie game wearing many hats, Spiritfarer is ultimately about dealing with grief, learning to let go, and saying goodbye. It also happens to be a beautiful game with a sweeping soundtrack and a satisfying gameplay loop.

<em>Credit: Thunder Lotus</em>
Credit: Thunder Lotus

But if you're wondering why a game about death is on a list about holiday blues video games, ponder this. Think of the game as a delivery mechanism that allows you to feel whatever feelings that haunt you this holiday. I first played Spiritfarer during the height of the pandemic and lockdown. As such, I maybe wasn't always letting myself work through some pretty complicated feelings of isolation, fear, listlessness, and more.

Don't fight the feeling. It's okay to be a bit sad sometimes, and maybe letting it out from time to time is all we really need.

World of Warcraft (or any MMORPG)

Excuse my biases as the person at esports.gg who writes the most about World of Warcraft. However, the near-20 year old game is played by millions for a reason. Sometimes we all need to get lost in a world that's not our own. And while some people question playing a genre that seems to be all about doing chores for other people and checking off lists, I offer a counterpoint.

There is a satisfaction in the progression MMORPGs offer. You're getting things done, moving forward, and seeing changes in your character and the world around you. At a time of the year when it's easy to feel stuck it can be cathartic to spend time in the shoes of a digital avatar.

Credit: Blizzard
Credit: Blizzard

I chose WoW because, let's be real: I paid for a year-long subscription. However, there's an MMO to fit one and all out there. Looking for a soaring story and familiar aesthetic? Go with Final Fantasy 14 and its robust, generous free trial. Give Elder Scrolls Online a try if you're more action-oriented.

Heck, there's even private servers for older games like Star Wars Galaxies. The digital world is yours to explore if the holiday blues have you down and out.

Tetris Effect: Connected

Consider this the multiplayer option in our list of video games for fighting the holiday blues. After all, it's safe to assume you will be forced to be around other people. If that happens (and you're tired of playing Mario Kart) then try an old-school favorite with a trippy, new age twist. Tetris Effect: Connected is a sonic journey through beautiful visuals, all while playing the beloved and familiar puzzle game.

Featuring one of my favorite soundtracks of the last decade, Tetris Effect is fantastic for either chilling out on your own or passing the controller around. The latter is made even better if you have a VR headset. Seeing people try and play Tetris in virtual reality is a hilarious party trick that's sure to please.

Holiday blues video games - LEGO Fortnite

Need a game to play with--and relate to--a younger demographic? Maybe you just need to build your own world and aren't quite up to the daunting task of learning an MMORPG. Either way, you can do a lot worse than the newest addition to the Fortnite world of gaming.

LEGO Fortnite is, simply put, Minecraft but with a familiar IP. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. If anything that makes the gameplay loop of Minecraft more palatable to someone like me that was a bit too old for it when the game hit mass popularity. However, there's a structure to LEGO Fortnite that is satisfying and leads far less to getting lost in the proverbial weeds of open-ended gaming.

LEGO Fortnite gameplay screenshot (Image via Epic Games and LEGO)
LEGO Fortnite gameplay screenshot (Image via Epic Games and LEGO)

Get away from your family for a few hours and go build a plastic house in a beautiful open field. It's better than hearing your uncle's thoughts about the 2024 presidential election, I assure you.

Hades

Think of this as your timely reminder that the release of Hades 2 is fast approaching and the original Hades is currently on sale on Steam. Ah, synergy. The 2018 epic roguelike is one of the best games of the last ten years, and for good reason. A compelling story, beautiful soundtrack, gripping visuals, and a never-ending gameplay loop all leads to a game worth getting lost in.

Ultimately, the best video game for fighting the holiday blues is the one that lets you break out of your own head for a few hours. We're our own worst enemy when it comes to sitting and stewing on the things that plague us. Do yourself a favor and don't let the urge to dwell win out. Instead, let your mind wander in the gamescape of something like Hades and show yourself some kindness.

After all, it is the holiday season.

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