As fun as it is to declare something "a tradition" and blithely repeat it year after year to entertain myself, it has been quite magic to see other people anticipate and adopt the things I've declared RPS Christmas traditions. That's all you need to form tradition: people who want to experience something together. No matter how slight or daft the thing is, what really matters is that we do it together. So please, reader dear, join me for an annual play of Skeal, a wonderful (and free) festive single-joke game.
Skeal is a downhill skiing game. The moon is big and bright, snow is falling, and the slopes are calling. It's short, it's fun, and it's free. The downloadable version of Skeal is no longer available (nor is its VR version, Virtual Skeality) but you can still play the browser version for free on Itch.io.
Half the fun is in the surprise, so let's both go play it right now and we'll meet back in here in five minutes. And you agree not to keep reading downwards, because you trust me? Alright, good.
Time to play.
Oh, I did not expect to be crying by the end of that. This is new to me with Skeal. It's been a hard few years, certainly. And yes, I've been listening to Christmas Pain In Christmas Town after waking up crying one day. But Skeal too? Well, merry Christmas, everyone.
But that's a good thing about traditions: they're stable. After six Skeal Christmasses at RPS, it has become a mirror I can look into and see my changing emotions reflected back. My power, my pleasure, my pain. So this is where I am this year, huh? Alrighty. So it goes. Let's see about next Christmas.
Here's another good thing about traditions: you're not doing them alone. Everyone playing this silly game over this silly holiday which few of us have any religious attachment to, we're all here, together, on that slope, and falling through those rose petals. I've been very glad to receive messages and e-mails from many of you eager for these little RPS Christmas traditions. We are here together, and we've still a few wee traditions to go.
Perhaps you'll also enjoy Skeal creator Nick Cummings reflecting on the success of Skeal in a 2019 blog post:
"Like an evasive parent, I like to say that I appreciate all my games equally. But honestly? I don't like Skeal all that much. It's rough, it's half-baked, and it's extremely clear that I couldn't write C# to save my life in 2014.
"I don't like Skeal. But I do love Skeal.
"To me, Skeal represents the first time I followed a silly idea that resonated intensely with me and my sense of humor to its logical conclusion. And it worked. It really worked. Its continued success is proof of that, to me. Statistically speaking, at least one person has downloaded and played Skeal since I started writing this article."
Thank you for the game, Nick.