Valve has dressed its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive [official site] chickens up in many a festive outfit over the years, from chicken-sized Christmas jumpers to pink Easter bunny ears. But how do these festive fowl stack up against one another in terms of holiday loveliness? There's only one way to find out: an Alice and Pip chat.
Pip: Alice! It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeeeear. With the CS: GO chickens all wearing their knitting and I'm of good cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer! It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiiiiime of the year.
That said there are other wonderful times of the year if we're talking chicken dress-up. Halloween! Easter! CS:GO's birthday! Can we truly decide which is the *most* wonderful time of the year?
Alice: It'd take two grizzled experts with a long history of dressing up imaginary characters. Two hardened veterans committed to arguing the toss. Two people who understand that the Halloween chickens wearing spooky ghost sheets are the best and if you don't agree I WILL END THIS FRIENDSHIP RIGHT HERE.
But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
CS:GO's chickens, to explain to this festive audience of readers gathered around the base of the RPS treehouse with Santa jumpers and mugs of mulled Buckfast, are often dressed up to celebrate events. When Christmas, Halloween, the game's birthday, and so on roll around, Valve give them lovely little costumes. But which is the loveliest?
Pip: It is the ghosts. BUT we should try to be objective and scientific about this so let's rank them to make sure we haven't made a hideous mistake.
Shall we start by deciding the least lovely (but still lovely) festive fowl?
Alice: They ARE all still lovely. But...
Pip: Are you going to say the Santa hats/reindeer antlers flavour of chicken are the least good? Because I am.
Alice: Oh come on! The Santa hat is a classic! It's a festive favourite! Have you ever looked at someone in a Santa hat and thought "Mate come on, make an effort"?
Pip: Yes! Because it's the bare minimum you can do to signify that you are getting into the Christmas spirit! And often it's the thing a non-jolly person can do to sort of fend off accusations that they aren't festive enough. Also reindeer antlers are really irritating.
Alice: I quite like that! I like that these Santa chickens may be the grumpy uncles of the world, slumped in the corner of the piazza with a scowl.
Pip: What, like they didn't want to come to the CS:GO Christmas party but they're making an appearance and working out how to leave as soon as possible while some festive keeno from de_dust2 has plopped a hat on their unfestive bonce?
Alice: Just imagine how upset they must be about the whole thing! You can almost hear it in their clucking. Delightful.
I do agree, mind, that reindeer antlers are irritating. If Santa hats are the bare minimum, reindeer antlers are the KOOKY option. I'll take lazy over kooky.
Pip: I think I'm always slightly disappointed that they're made from fuzzy felt or whatever and that you couldn't gore a festive rival with them if you were fighting at a party. I mean, antlers are offensive weaponry so you should feel MIGHTY and DANGEROUS when wearing them.
Alice: A mannequin in the Museum of London's pleasure gardens exhibition wears a broad head of (non-period-appropriate?) barbed black metal antlers and I'm delighted every time I see her. I would approve of those antlers. These chickens, no. So the reindeer antlers are the least-good?
Alice: I'm going to suggest we not jump to placing Santa hats just above them. I have a bold opinion. The hopping rabbit chickens. They're not right, are they?
Pip: I didn't know "bold" could be a synonym for "wrong". The bunny ear chickens are elevated by the hopping. The Santa hats are linked to a time before animation started to get involved with this whole thing so they just sit there. Chicken head-toppers. The Easter bunny chickens try their hand/wing at hopping! It's so delightful.
Alice: So you're telling me that, because the technology is more modern, Ikea Monkey Jesus is better than the original.
Pip: Look, as soon as I see an in-game chicken leaping about like a rabbit I can't help but imagine that the chicken is having fun. It has tiny chicken aspirations and plans. It's playing. Literally every game in the known universe will do a Christmas update where it rams a Santa hat on something. That's a fact. You can take it to the fact bank.
Alice: Aha! So it's you who's always trying to out-Christmas everyone, bigger spectacles and more effort, peering from behind your net curtains tutting as I - feeling perfectly festive - stumble drunk down the street singing carols in my skivvies with a Santa hat.
Pip: I just did a quick mental rundown of the number of Christmas lights around the house this year. I think it's 700 or so. But that isn't the point. Valve's chicken antics are at their best when they're doing something surprising or silly. Santa hats, for me, don't showcase that because they're a Christmas staple rather than anything daft or that's been given a bit of a twist. At the time I think it would have been more lovely, but the current state of chicken-tech has pushed Santa hats right down the list for me.
Alice: Look, I'm unnerved by the hopping, okay. It's not natural. What could do that to chickens? The strut of a chicken is such a joy to watch and here they are bouncing around like they're in a John Lewis advert.
Pip: Would it help if I suggested they were pretending to play Quake?
Alice: Haha yeah okay I'm now entirely into this, realising they are in fact bunnyhopping. The bunnies are fantastic. GOOD JOB, BUNNIES.
But the Halloween pumpkins go below Santa hats.
Pip: Honest to God, it's like I don't even know you. What's wrong with the pumpkins?
Alice: WELL. They're too thick. They're not hollowed enough. You can't put a pumpkin like that on a chicken's head - you'll do it serious harm. More than that, you can't see enough of the chicken's own face through it. I want a good bit of beak poking out that nose hole.
Pip: I will concede the point about the heft of a pumpkin. I think I'd been assuming it was a polystyrene or plastic pumpkin so I was entirely fine with a chicken having the neck muscle to support it. I do love how goofy they look, though, turning their pumpkins this way and that and then pecking at the ground. If they were more lightweight and had more beak room would you be on board?
WAIT. I've just had a thought. Imagine if the chicken was wearing the pumpkin as a kind of body costume, like a little orange barrel!
Alice: Yes! Or this is even the rare occasion when I'd approve of a pumpkin 'costume', those big puffy velour balls.
I suppose we're discovering I believe in respecting the authenticity and lives of the chickens. I see them as actual real chickens who we're dressing up for funsies. I like chickens. They're nice. Love getting amongst it with the hens.
Pip: I am willing to mark the pumpkin chickens down for it not being the best deployment of a pumpkin costume. But lower than Santa hats? REALLY?
Actually, the more I watch these gifs the more I can't see anything other than neck strain. Pumpkins can go below Santa hats BUT the bunny chickens have to be above Santa hats.
Alice: Yes, absolutely. Bunnyhopping chickens above Santa. Can't believe I'd missed that. I ADORE THE BUNNIES.
Right! So if you're down on plonking hats on chickens, how do you feel about the birthday hats. I adore the little elastic strap under their chins. For me, that detail really makes them. Also the chickens explode into showers of confetti, but mostly the elastic is what excites me.
Pip: The chin strap changes everything. These hats have been thought through. A chicken is just going to shake off a Santa hat – there's no realism there. How's it staying on? These birthday hats are utterly charming AND realistic. I think I just also like how happy the whole thing looks.
I thought the confetti thing was a myth though? Some of the guns at the time did a confetti spray and a sort of party blower noise and I thought it turned out that the confetti wasn't from the chickens but from the guns? I might be wrong. Perhaps there's an element of the pinata to these chickens and I'm just not remembering.
Alice: Hmm. You know, I can't quite remember. But I think I'd be happier without the confetti - it encourages hunting chickens. Let them enjoy their party.
As for next, I'm torn between the Christmas jumper(s) and the zombie.
Pip: If it helps I was going to suggest we put the red and green Christmas jumper variants as one type of chicken even though they're from two different years.
Alice: Right, right. If we get too Project Runway on this, we'll be here forever.
Christmas jumpers can, like hats, be seen as an easy effort. But aren't they delightful? Those chickens look a lot more fun than the ones with hats. They think they're people!
Pip: They also have CS:GO themed designs so it's not like they're generic jumpers either.
Alice: The zombie is… I like the zombie. I like them rising with their wings outstretched. It's cute. But while the Christmas jumpers have a casual, relaxed, easy nature to them, the zombies are really trying. Do you want your chickens rolling with the holiday or putting on a real show?
Pip: So I think this is my problem when it comes to placing the zombie chickens: it's all about watching the whole thing unfold. The rest of the chickens on this list are things you see as you're wandering the level but these you kind of have to intervene and trigger them for yourself.
Don't get me wrong – I really love them and I loved the surprise of seeing them for the first time – but they feel different. There should somehow be another list for them but it would only have them on it.
Alice: What role would the zombie chickens play in your CS:GO Christmas pantomime? Let's assume Danny Dyer is the dame and a nurse off Casualty is the hero.
Pip: I feel like they would be the person who is a "local legend" and is in the panto every year and they do a well-established joke which everyone who goes every year looks forward to and outsiders don't quite get.
Alice: Oh no, Danny Dyer making jokes about a local ice cream parlour he's clearly not visited.
Sorry, I think I just want to talk about Danny Dyer. Did you see his Who Do You Think You Are? POINT IS yes, I'd say Christmas jumpers above zombies?
Pip: Hang on, would you definitely put zombies in the top three?
Alice: Oh, no, rabbits above zombies too. I'm losing track of what we've established. I was instead thinking about Danny Dyer's desire to wear a ruff.
Pip: OH MY GOSH! A CHICKEN IN A RUFF WOULD BE BRILLIANT. But the list is currently: Antlers last, then pumpkins, Santa hats, bunnies and birthday hats. We could put the zombies above the Santa hats?
Alice: Yes, I think that sounds good. And that leaves us with… is it only sheet ghosts left, claiming the top spot as we knew they would?
Pip: We just need to establish the rest of the top half of the chart. It's going to be dictated by how high the bunnies end up and whether they're better than the birthday hats. Oh, and where do we want the multiple Christmas jumpers – are they better or worse than the other things? I mean, I figure they should make the top three.
Alice: This level of organisation is how you're living in a winter wonderland and all I've done so far is buy a ten-inch desktop tree (with fake snow) and enough whisky to last while the shops are closed.
I'm surprised you want Christmas jumpers in the top three but I am glad. As much as I have seen the light re: Easter bunnies, I can't deny the elastic chinstrap on the birthday hats. Imagine gently slipping that string behind its wattle. Delightful.
Pip: Suggestion for the top three: 3. Birthday hats 2. Jumpers 1. Ghosts.
Pip: Nice! I'll put it in a fancy list format and we can get on with decking the halls and whatever the other things are on my highly professional To-Do list.
Alice: Until Valve add ruffs.
THE DEFINITIVE RANKING OF CS:GO FESTIVE CHICKENS
8. Antlers (the worst)
6. Santa hats
3. Birthday hats