I have not, to this day, managed to be in the same place at the same time as a white Christmas. If you have, please, let me know. Is it still possible to snow on Christmas day anywhere south of Duluth, Minnesota? I have many happy memories of building snowmen, tobogganing, and ducking under snow-laden boughs in the backwoods of Virginia. But none of them on Christmas. I don’t want to say that Bing Crosby lied to me, but. You know.
This is not to say that I have some sort of romantic notions about snow. I know the pain of the DC area’s 2009 Snowpocalypse 1 AND 2. That snowstorm shut down the government! Snow is annoying, cold, ultimately useless and everyone loves it for some reason. Wait. Is that… the dream? Never mind, I’ve come back around on snow. Here are some games for you about snow.
I have a bad back and that is why I will never shovel your driveway. In Super Snow Shoveler, however, I can pretend that my back is fine and I live somewhere where it snows — all to some delightfully cheery 8-bit tunes. The game was made for the 2018 PICO-8 Advent Calendar, a jam devoted to PICO-8 and all things winter.
LeBlanc describes Super Snow Shoveler as “a battle between efficiency & exhaustion,” which is exactly how I would characterise my experience of the year 2018. Allow yourself the catharsis of efficiently shoveling a driveway without ever getting off of the sofa. Live the dream. This is my new video game power fantasy.
Hey, is the internet still obsessed with corgis? And their cute little fluff butts and tiny legs and big eyes? Oh my gosh imagine a corgi hopping around in the snow. Are you imagining it? Is it great?
Here in Mutant Cassidy’s Bitsy game, released last year, she creates a small winter tableau of corgis in the snow. Corgis in the Snow is a quick little slice of life game, and I recommend giving it a play with hot cocoa in hand. Bonus points if you have a little snuggly furball to enjoy it with.
A lot of games about snow also involve snow management. And you know me: I love a management game. Second only to deck-building games (I’m looking at you, 200 hours of Slay the Spire). Here we have a fairly simple management game that is so hard. The premise is fairly basic: you are a new snow plow driver, and you must ensure that the streets are free of snow by driving around and around the city blocks. As the snow falls, you must upgrade your snow plow to accommodate for the incoming blizzard. But I’m pretty sure there’s no way to win. And if there is, don’t tell me.
I had an interesting first playthrough of Space Owl’s Enjoy the Snow. I didn’t quite understand the objective. I thought I was just a simple snowflake, whose task was to fall from the sky and land on the ground. Upon my second play, I realised that there was an entire narrative if you, you know, followed the rules.
Enjoy the Snow is an exploration into what it means to create art in an industry, like games or film, using the snowfall in Indiana as a framing device. If you collect the snowflakes, you learn a bit more about this process. Or, perhaps, you simply flutter and fall.
Okay, maybe you hate the snow and nothing here has served to convince you otherwise. That’s okay. You’re allowed to like the things you don’t like, or have a complex relationship with delicately packed frozen water. Star Maid Games’ Nina Freeman (of Cibele, Tacoma) and her partner Jake Jefferies present a silly little physics games about being on a date on the beach. You throw sand at each other. That’s it. It’s simple and heartwarming; a reminder of the small moments and loved ones who help make the holidays, or even a whole year, a bit more bearable. It’s no snow, but sand is pretty close.
Every Christmas I am reminded of Australian comedian Tim Minchin’s ode to Aussie Christmases in his song, White Wine in the Sun. I think that Minchin has had a pretty wild career. There’s the potential that his comedy hasn’t aged well; I haven’t returned to it in a while. But this song, of warmth and holidays and family no matter where you are and no matter the weather, stands up almost a decade later. Enjoy your snow or sand, family, friends, neither or both.