“We may have a ton of other differences, but for at least a week we can all come together and appreciate that we live in a time were technology like this exists and offers us these amazing stories/experiences.”
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to spend the week of January 25-31 playing video games while indulging in your favorite snack, Ctrl+Alt+Del creator Tim Buckley came to your rescue way back in 2003 with the creation of Winter-een-mas. The holiday runs January 25-31 and is a celebration of all things gaming from the friendships you forge with fellow gamers to obsessive frustration over the games you just can’t beat to the escapism of being able to plug in and become an outlaw in the wild west or a plumber with a grudge against an anthropomorphic turtle.
Buckley didn’t set out with the intention of inventing a gaming holiday out of thin air. At the time, he’d been working on Ctrl+Alt+Del for about two years when he introduced the holiday as a storyline for the webcomic. Buckley’s protagonist Ethan mashed together the words "winter," "Halloween" and "Christmas" and came up with Winter-een-mas. The next year Buckley decided to make Winter-een-mas an annual celebration of gaming.
“I describe the holiday simply as a celebration of video games,” Buckley explained. “It’s a week in January, in the middle of winter when we’re mostly staying indoors anyway, and it’s after the crazy and stressful Christmas season, and it’s also usually a pretty quiet time in the games industry. It’s a moment where we can relax and catch up on some games we missed, or pull out an old favorite.”
In the 14 years since Buckley introduced Winter-een-mas, the holiday has evolved and gained traction within the gaming community. There are no hard and fast rules for how to celebrate. The Winter-een-mas season runs the entire month of January, but January 25-31 marks peak Winter-een-mas festivities. There are countless ways to celebrate from hosting a LAN party, starting a new game, wearing your favorite game-inspired clothing and accessories, writing letters or emails of appreciation to game developers, eating themed food or playing an old favorite. This year Buckley will be observing by playing Resident Evil 2 remake which conveniently drops on January 25.
One major point of differentiation from more traditional holidays is that Buckley discourages exchanging gifts with the exception of homemade presents. “I believe that some holidays (I’m looking at you, Christmas) get so commercialized and become so stressful because of the expectation of gift-giving,” Buckley explained. “And giving gifts can be a lot of fun, but it also tends to become the focus. I just didn’t want that for Winter-een-mas. It should be about enjoying the game you’re playing, either alone or with friends, and relaxing.”
What would a holiday, or gaming session, be without the food? Snacks are a key component of Winter-een-mas and should not be overlooked in your planning. While there’s no traditional food, snacks or drinks specifically associated with Winter-een-mas, Buckley does have one piece of advice to gamers planning their menu: avoid greasy foods that will inevitably result in slippery controls.
Despite Buckley’s laidback approach to Winter-een-mas, there is one vital rule that he believes should apply to the holiday: be kind.
“I always encourage people to try and be mindful of how they’re playing during Winter-een-mas—how they’re interacting with their fellow gamers if they’re playing online. Gaming can get a little toxic at times, and we can all get competitive, so I think Winter-een-mas is a good opportunity to make a conscious effort to be more courteous to each other. Compliment a good play, help out with some advice, etc. It’s a small thing, but if there’s one thing I’d like the focus on the holiday to be, it’s remembering that this is something we all have in common; we love video games. We may have a ton of other differences, but for at least a week we can all come together and appreciate that we live in a time were technology like this exists and offers us these amazing stories/experiences.”
The Games That Shaped Us
The Funkast team weighs in on the games they love most, the games that had the greatest influence on them and the snacks they love to indulge in while they play. The Funkast is Funko's official weekly podcast celebrating all things pop culture.
I played A LOT of video games growing up, and most of them have shaped me over the years. My sister and I spent many hours gaming and some of the most memorable are Marble Madness, Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario Kart, The Lion King, Animaniacs and most recently, Cuphead. Out of all of these games, my sister and I played Super Mario Bros. 3 the most. I remember one summer in particular, our parents were fixing up a house for my grandparents to move into at the end of the summer. When we weren’t helping out around the house we were warp whistling all over the place.
Snack of Choice
My favorite snack then and now is Cherry Vanilla Crème Blue Sky soda and the classic Garrett Popcorn mix, cheddar and caramel!
From the early PC days to current gen consoles, I’ve seen and played just about every major title, across every major system. During my 30+ years of gaming, a few titles stand tall above all the rest. They captured my attention in a way that no other game could and had a huge impact on the person I am now.
Contra was one of the first games I HAD to complete, and did so over and over. I watched my dad play (long before there was Twitch or Mixer) and learned about the Konami code. Halo 2 was my first true multi-player game and will always have a special place in my heart. I spent countless hours playing online with people I had never met, but quickly called friends. And now it is Rocket League that seems to win me back again and again. I mean soccer, with cars…. SAVAGE!!!
Snack of Choice
For years, gaming night kicked off with an Absolute Zero Monster, but these days it is Sprite and Peanut Butter M&Ms that fuel me during long gaming sessions. I can’t have the bag in the same room with me while I am playing.
I remember playing Metroid Prime at my grandparents’ house in the Poconos right after a snowstorm. I was the only one awake in the house and the eerie stillness of the Phendrana Drifts matched perfectly with the snow-covered forest outside my window. I’d played Super Metroid, which is considered by many to be a masterpiece in side-scrolling games, before but witnessing the dangers of Tallon IV through the helmet of Samus Aran instilled a sense of wonder and isolation.
Pokémon Red and Blue are my favorite video games of all time, partly because they were released when I was nearly 10, which is the same age that Pokémon Trainers embark on their journey. I remember selecting my starter and leaving Pallet Town, battling with my friends at school and eventually becoming strong enough to bring down the Elite Four. The variety of teams I could build and seemingly endless quests kept a Pokémon cartridge in my GameBoy for years.
Snack of Choice
I highly recommend Rold Gold Tiny Twists or Sour Patch Kids when gaming.
My first console (NES) was when I was 3 years old playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt with my dad (this is when he was fun and played video games). This sparked my love of video games; from then on my brother and I grew up playing everything Nintendo, playing anything Mario-related, Golden Eye, Animal Crossing and more. Eventually Xbox came into play where Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty took over. When I get the time I still greatly enjoy playing many of these titles.
Snack of Choice
My favorite snack of choice growing up was Surge and any type of chip; now I stick to water and the occasional trail mix.
Recipes for a Fabulously Geeky Winter-een-mas
Want to go all out for your Winter-een-mas celebrations? Here are 20 recipes culled from wildly creative and delightfully geeky chefs across the internet.
- The Geeky Chef’s Cliff Racer recipe from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Geeky Chef’s Apple Cabbage Stew recipe from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Geeky Chef’s Monster Curry recipe from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild video game
- The Geeky Chef’s Estus recipe from Dark Souls
- Fiction Kitchen’s Monster Soup recipe from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- The Gluttonous Geek’s Lantern Fruit Gulab Jamun recipe from Battle Chef Brigade
- The Gluttonous Geek’s Cezar’s Dragon Shank Meatball recipe from Battle Chef Brigade
- The Gluttonous Geek’s The Cake is a Pie recipe from Portal
- The Gluttonous Geek’s Pies for Ser Pounce A Lot from Dragon Age
- Rosanna Pansino’s Zelda Triforce Lemon Bars from The Legend of Zelda
- Rosanna Pansino’s Pixel Heart Cinnamon Cookies
- Rosanna Pansino’s Kirby Macaroons from Kirby
- A Table Full of Joy’s Durr Burger from Fortnite
- A Table Full of Joy’s Juicy Psychmelon Watermelon Slushy from Hearthstone
- Pretty Cake Machine’s Magic Bean Truffles from The Legend of Zelda
- Pretty Cake Machine’s Chocolate Truffle Shroom Cake from Paper Mario
- It’s a Fabulous Life’s Pokeball Oreo Fudge from Pokémon
- Geeks Who Eat’s The Tracer Cocktail from Overwatch
- Midwestern Moms’ Pokémon Rice Krispie Treats from Pokémon
- Nerdist’s BulbaS’mores from Pokémon