Under the Tree

Under the Tree

"By mid-December the tree had all but died. The needles, having severed their tenuous ties to the oppressive regime of the tree proper, had struck out to colonize the entire apartment. They were everywhere. Literally. Like sand in a bathing suit, they had somehow managed to lodge themselves into every conceivable nook and cranny, where they lurked, like coniferous kamikazes, waiting for their chance to strike at the webbing betwixt my toes."

Russ Pitts recounts the sordid tale of the year he turned 30 and was almost murdered by a tree.

Under the Tree

"You can't underestimate the little guy. To him, the weight difference between a game and an empty DVD case is a dead giveaway. The problem is the game's instruction manual. Simulate the extra weight by stuffing a dozen index cards into each case. Throw in a blank DVD, too, if you have some lying around. Now you have five or six similarly-weighted and -sized boxes under the tree, and he won't know which one is the diamond in the rough."

Andrew Eisen offers several tips for livening up the season of giving.

Under the Tree

"Life as a one-man videogame shop isn't a world of hot cocoa, candy canes and gingerbread men; it's one of hard work and a touch of futility. And maybe a bit of insanity. Nevertheless, I set out to release a game during the biggest retail season of the year."

Guy Stevens tells a tale of the development cycle before Christmas.

Under the Tree

"We'd have paper plates full of Hanukkah cookies, butter treats in holiday shapes and crusted with blue sugar, as our game fuel; we'd send my sister on missions to bring more sweets, assuring her of the vital importance of her role - if we didn't have cookies, how could we beat the boss? And even though the three of us were still too young to be obligated to gift one another, we had my sister's crayon Sonic art, the sheaf of color printouts of game characters my cousin had gleaned for us, the full-size Twisted Metal poster I'd pulled out of a game magazine to give him. These marathon idylls are my holiday memories."

Leigh Alexander recounts the memories, both good and bad, of a succession of holiday game fests.

Under the Tree

"'It's one of those things where people tend to go and crunch a lot of numbers and say, 'Look at all these games that sold in the month of November. We must put our game in the month of November, because that is where all the games sold,"' Kramer says. 'Well, no, the fact is, in July and August, only crap came out, so no one went and bought any games because there was only third-string licensed titles coming out for Game Boy Advance.' In other words, the last quarter of the year sees 50 to 60 percent of the year's industry revenues because that's when 50 to 60 percent of the good games come out. If those same games came out at different times, they'd probably sell just as well, if not better."

Kyle Orland unwraps the holiday rush.