Christmas, a wonderful time of year. A time of love to all peoples of all races and creeds. A time of warmth and comfort in one of the darkest and harshest seasons. A time of hope and charity, where miracles happen.
And office parties. Yes, the epitome of obligatory merrymaking between the ones who sign your paychecks and the ones who mildly annoy you. What usually comes with office parties? Secret Santas. A randomly assigned co-worker has to get a gift for you and vice-versa in the spirit of the holiday; and most of the time you don’t know squat about each other.
So what does this have to do with video games? Well picture if you were in a big old video game office party and wound up having a major character as your own video game secret Santa? Now imagine the worst possible scenario. Characters that are either so one-track or so nebulous that gift swapping with them makes you want to hit the spiked eggnog more than usual. Don’t have to, because I have and they’re listed below. Think of it as a humorous look back at the absurd and more stoic characters of 2016 with Christmas garnish.
Doctor Samuel Hayden from Doom
The biggest surprise of this year’s return of Doom was that it had a lot of backstory and a proper narrative in between all the demon murder going around. Specifically, the reason why demons invade the planet Mars is because the aforementioned director of the scientific research division stationed there believed the latent Argent energy taken from the void of torment would be a great use of alternative energy. Why did he know there were portals to Hell on Mars? Well, because he was a scientist at the original facility way back in the first Doom game, and in a bid to save his grand intelligence from becoming demon food, he downloaded his consciousness into a robotic platform. Fast-forward a bunch of sequels and a vague amount of time later and Dr. Hayden thinks things have died down enough that it’s time to try again. Except now he knows a crucial failsafe: in case of demon invasion, wake up the Doom Marine.
What to get him?
This one is tricky. Dr. Hayden has done the most extreme version of throwing himself into his work with the whole “download your brain into a robot body so you can continue doing science” thing. The basic go-to gifts are out the window. Cheap sweets or food? Nope. A scarf? Nope. Tacky sweater? Nope. DVD of a popular movie? Does it involve science and is non-fiction? If so, he’d call it inaccurate and get bored. If not, he’d probably crush it to powder right in front of you.
The only thing that might get his attention is some Argent energy or some demonic relic from Hell, and you can’t exactly stroll into a Wal-Mart for those can you? Even in space, the Black Friday rush is murder….
What he might give you?
This might even be worse. A single look at how Dr. Hayden treats his staff shows he has lost all empathy in his crazed pursuit of alternative energy. His answer to one of his promising employees, Olivia Pearce, suffering from crippling paralysis? Put her in an exoskeleton so she can continue her work… that constantly puts her in excruciating pain.
Maybe his keen perception will make him like Sherlock Holmes and he can deduce something you’d specifically enjoy for the holidays? Yeah, no. In the future with state of the art surveillance technology, Dr. Hayden didn’t figure out that Pearce was creating her own demonic cult behind the scenes trying to bring about the end of days. The kind of cult that paints pentagrams everywhere with human entrails and wears black robes.
So if you want to get him something, you have to go to hell and best case scenario you might get a mug from him. So much for goodwill towards men with this video game secret Santa.
Reaper from Overwatch
While the big name heroes of Overwatch did heroic things like saving cats out of trees, putting out fires, and fighting in a bloody robot uprising, Gabriel Reyes was the head of the organization’s covert ops division, Blackwatch, doing dirty jobs that must never be known to the public for the greater good. But a few years of doing black ops led to a lot of bitterness between Reyes and Overwatch’s leader, Commander Morrison. Cue a climactic confrontation and betrayal of the organization by Reyes, ending in an explosion that ended both men’s lives along with Overwatch’s Switzerland headquarters.
Or did it!? Somehow Reyes survived, undertook the name of Reaper, and went on to head the terrorist organization Talon, dedicated to attacking and extorting the wealthy and powerful. Not to mention he may be some undead entity that needs to kill innocent lives in order to sustain his existence. Silver lining: he gets to wear all black, pull infinite firearms out of his cloak, teleport, and go intangible. Almost makes up for all of the betrayal and murder doesn’t it?
What to get him?
There appears to be more diversity here than with the above entry. Just the ability to say you are alive this year is a present enough, so throw Reaper a couple of lives to drain. They don’t necessarily have to be innocent either. It can be a prisoner on death row, a homeless person, or maybe that guy that really gets under your skin. You know who they are. The real problem would be gift wrapping, but that’s what chloroform and duct tape are for.
Otherwise, Reaper seems a bit more accepting of more mundane presents. If Overwatch’s multiple costumes are to go by, he likes getting new outfits. The trick would be getting measurements and being covert about it. Or maybe just get him something from Todd McFarlene toys, he seems the kind of guy who would like that. Just don’t mention family in front of him; seems to be a sensitive subject.
What would he get you?
Assuming you survive his employment and his operations, Reaper might be the best Secret Santa on this list by default. He has experience in figuring out info about people that is well hidden, so he’d have an idea as to what you like. His personal budget is effectively unlimited since he comes off as the kind of guy that would cash in on his own life insurance when he was Reyes. The downside is you’d be working for a terrorist organization trying to prove your worth to a guy that could kill you in the blink of an eye if you aren’t meeting projections. High pressure work environment indeed.
Jack Joyce from Quantum Break
Time itself is ending due to a science experiment gone wrong. There’s an evil corporation called Monarch run by an evil scientist that is trying to save his people from the end of everything. There’s a good scientist that’s trying to find a way to reverse the experiment that caused things to go bad in the first place. Jack Joyce is the good scientist’s brother… he kind of shows up and gets superpowers. Which he uses to fight the evil scientist after his brother dies. That is the extend of his character and his motivations.
What to get him?
You’re stuck getting a Christmas present for a guy that can manipulate time. Congratulations, there is absolutely no way you can surprise him. Yeah it might be clever to send him a box set of Doctor Who or Back to the Future but he’ll see it coming and the illusion will be broken. Get him nothing and he’ll know. Get him something he won’t like and he will mention it while being a stick in the mud about it. Textbook no-win scenario.
Well maybe send him a copy of the live-action X-Men movies to see if he does a double take at whose playing Iceman if only to amuse yourself.
What will he get you?
Considering his only real motivations in Quantum Break is either shooting Monarch employees or using his time powers in the most boring way imaginable – opening doors or jumping across gaps – do not expect a lot out of Jack Joyce. Worst case scenario, he gives you a gun, just in time for Monarch’s mooks to show up and shoot up your place. Best case scenario, he gets you just what you’ve wanted but only after giving a speech about how he spent countless years in time loops and chaos to get it. So get some practice in at a targeting range or get ready to casually nod and agree for about thirty minutes on top of all of your holiday shopping and prep.
Faith from Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
In a dystopian future run by corrupt politicians and unethical companies, it is up to an underground organization full of parkour enthusiasts to shut them down. Among them is Faith, a woman with a tragic past and a lot of running to do. Dropping off blackmail materials, escorting important documents, occasionally punching armed guards, all part of the job.
What to get her?
You know how some people give work-out videos or diet drinks to send people a hint? That ain’t going to work on Faith. Her whole job involves running, climbing, and jumping across an entire city while dodging gunfire. She’s a bit of a fitness nut. Christmas cards or novelty frames so she can put up pics of her family? Yeah, don’t do that. Sweets or wacky scarfs? What are you trying to do, get her killed on the job?
Maybe a windbreaker jacket for the colder months.
What is she going to get you?
You know how some people give work-out videos or diet drinks to send a hint? She’s a bit of a fitness nut….
Lord Kyros From Tyranny
In the great battle between good and evil in the world of Terratus, evil ultimately won. The Great and Mighty Overlord Kyros, long may she reign, is on the verge of completing her 400 year campaign to completely subjugate the world to her rule. Through magical subterfuge and a lot of secrecy, it’s hard to tell if she’s a man or a woman, and she has her own private army of Archons and brutal guardsmen to act in her name if you so much as sneeze dissent.
What can you get her?
Absolutely nothing. What do you get someone who literally has everything? Personal taste? She’s a recluse with her own private death army to protect her. You’ll be seen as a rebel element. Gender specific gifts? Good luck with that.
What will she give you?
The right to continue living in her perfect world…. Maybe a fruitcake. She’s evil, after all.
And there you have it. Gaming’s worst Secret Santas of 2016. Hopefully this list helped brighten your own personal bits of holiday stress and made you thankful you don’t actually live in some of this year’s vibrant worlds. Enjoy!