It’s that time of year again when millions of people everywhere are rushing around airports and train stations or piling into overstuffed cars to travel and visit friends and family for the holidays.  Now, everyone who travels long distances for a good stretch of time has to make careful choices of what to bring and what to leave behind, but for migrant gamers like myself, we must make the difficult choice of what games to add to our survival pack. Wandering button mashers must choose games to bring with us that not only entertain, but also serve function in our travels.

I’ve been making the trek between Colorado and Massachusetts a few times a year for a while now, and through my misadventures in packing and being stranded in the middle of nowhere I have devised a schema to keep in mind when I travel.  Keeping a balanced game rotation makes the traveling process easier and can also make a lousy trip more bearable. So, today I thought I would share my system with all of you for your holiday travels this year. The five game types I try to keep balanced for traveling are: The Time Sink, The Family Favorite, The Tranquilizer, The Backlog, and The Bloodbath. Since I try to bring as little hardware with me as possible, all of the titles in my examples are either for handhelds or the two systems I have at my mother’s house: the PS2 and N64.


The Time Sink

The time sink is a game that you bring along which necessitates strong time commitments and is generally good for soaking up some time. A good time sink game gives you a feeling of progress as you work away but has a large goal that still seems far off so you want to keep at it. These are some of the best games for long flights or car rides and when you are caught waiting. My main time sink games for this holiday season are going to be the fourth and fifth Ace Attorney games for the DS and 3DS. There’s a lot of reading and the pacing is slow, but the cases hold my interest long enough that I’d rather move on than take a break.

Pheonix Wright


The Family Favorite

The family favorite game is pretty self-explanatory. Want to get out of a dull group discussion about politics after Christmas dinner? Mention that you just happened to bring along everyone’s favorite video game and the groans about Obama turn into shouts calling out who get’s 1st controller. For all of my cousins and me, there are two games that we all love to play together. The first one is Mario Party, for pretty predictable reasons, and the second is Pokemon Snap. My cousin Cassie and my sister have an album they still update to this day full of photos only of annoyed/distressed Pokemon being hit in the face with the apple or the pester ball. It’s tradition.

pokemon Snap


The Tranquilizer

The tranquilizer is the game you bring to chill out to after a long day with crazy aunts, shopping among hordes of ruthless soccer moms, and trying for what seems like several freaking hours to find that one busted light on the strand of a million little Christmas lights. This is the game you bring to escape with, if only just for a little while. My game is NiGHTS into Dreams. I picked up the PS2 import version a while back and although the controls aren’t quite as fluid, it still does a wonderful job of just making me feel light and happy. Everyone needs a game like this once in a while; why not bring one just in case?



The Backlog Title

The backlog title is also pretty self explanatory. Got a game that you’ve been meaning to start or finish? Bring it along! Sometimes a change of pace and scenery is a great help in starting a new project- it works the same with games. Take advantage of the time and fill in that backlog. My backlog game is going to be Fire Emblem Awakening. I bought this game not too long after it came out but have barely touched it.  Everyone has been talking about how great it is and I plan to use this me time to my advantage.



The Bloodbath

The bloodbath is the game you bring in case you have to blow of some serious steam. Has your babysitting gig gone several hours longer than expected? Bloodbath game. Flight delayed till 3AM? Bloodbath game. Someone drop kicked your puppy? Don’t punch their kitten- take the high road. Play your bloodbath game. These games for me tend to be action hack-and-slash games or beat ‘em ups. For my three week long trip to New England I plan to bring Devil May Cry. I think it will do nicely.

Devil May Cry


What kind of games do you like to travel with? If you are traveling for the holidays, what will you bring? Let me know in the comments below!