One of the games I played for a while was the one entitled "Xtreme Xmas Shopping" on the Persuasive Games site. It is quite realistic if I say so myself. We, as Americans, are consumed by the idea of getting our children the hottest, most expensive toys for the holidays. In fact, we are so engulfed by this idea, that we have honestly lost the true spirit of the holiday season. How often do you attend a mall or department store after Thanksgiving and see consumers happily shopping and employees happily assisting? Very rarely. Everyone is so stressed, consumers stressed with how many gifts they still need to buy and employees stressed with the idea of having to deal with disgruntled costumers. Christmas is slowly becoming a competition, rather than a family holiday.
In this game, you are a costumer, with a list of toys you need to attain. Now depending on which level you choose (call ahead, arrive early, camp outside), you must go around and gather the toys you need, one at a time, and pay for them at the register. Meanwhile, there are other shoppers busily gathering the toys they need. Now, if you miss just one toy and the store runs out before you have a chance to get it, than you automatically lose (hence, in the real world, if one misses the opportunity to obtain just one of the gifts, than the holiday is a bust). Now one of the most interesting aspects of the game consisted of the violence. Now if another costumer possessed a toy that you needed than you could fight them for it, literally, by punching them in the face. But it is necessary if you want to win the game, because if you miss just one toy you lose. Now this is pretty consistent with the real world, we have all at one time or another heard the horror stories of tired mothers fighting one another for the last tickle-me-elmo.
This game interestingly created a sense of what our holiday season has become. We are so consumed with the materialistic aspect of the season that we have lost sight of spending time with our family and friends and giving the gift of love and compassion. My own mother has said that she hates going to the mall to get our presents, my sister and I are limited to two presents each, an expensive one and a thoughtful one (Last year I got a digital camera and the dvd of a movie I had grown up with as a child). We have never really been into getting the latest and crazed toys at that time. We need to leave behind the need or want for the hottest items on the market and return to the season of love and spending time with family and friends. Perhaps a little too idealistic...but still a nice thought.