Does it ever slightly bother you that in these alternate fantasy and science fiction worlds that we explore there just so happens to have evolved the same dang holidays that we celebrate in real life? Oh, sure, they may try to disguise this fact with a rename and a “Father Winterclaus” instead of Santa, but it’s the same Christmas, the same Halloween, the same Valentine’s Day, and the same dang April Fools Day everywhere.
So why not be different? Why not exercise some imagination and create festivals and holidays unique to that game world and nowhere else? Believe it or not, it has been done — many times before, in fact. For this week’s Top 10 list, we’ll be looking at a sampling of holidays that don’t come from any discounted calendar that we might buy on January 20th at a mall kiosk (and no, game anniversary events won’t count for this list either).
Final Fantasy XIV: Moonfire Faire
I have to say that of all the reasons to throw a holiday, sure, acrobatics at a beach is as valid as things like “pirates” and “pie.” Gives everyone a chance to show off their swimsuit glamours and perfectly toned tummies. Sounds like it has its fair share of casualties for the sake of entertainment: “Only those possessed of a strong pair of legs and a stomach for dizzying heights may hope to conquer this most death-defying test of acrobatic prowess.”
So, not for me me but probably for cats.
World of Warcraft: Children’s Week
WoW actually has a dizzying array of holidays, both unique and contemporary (especially with those newish micro-holidays). But the one that always sticks out the most to me is Children’s Week due to its rather special emphasis. Instead of the holiday being about your character’s enjoyment and benefit, you’re asked to “adopt” a virtual orphan for a while and take him or her on a tour of the world like a big brother or big sister. Of course, you don’t take the kid to the beach; you travel to dangerous battlefields and force this child to stare into the charnel house of horror. But it’s for a good cause.
Defiance: Armistice Day
You would think that more pretend worlds would make use of their elaborate backstory and celebrate important (fake) historical events, but that doesn’t happen that often. Defiance’s Armistice Day shows the potential for such holidays, with this one marking the end of the bloody Pale Wars in 2031.
Star Trek Online: Lohlunat Festival
Any Star Trek fan knows that out of the entire galaxy, apparently the only place to vacation was a single California-class planet known as Risa. And any STO fan knows that when this festival comes calling, that captain best get to this planet as soon as possible to hoverboard, dance, and jet pack across its beauty in order to get a free spaceship. That’s how timeshares get you.
EverQuest II: Tinkerfest
A relatively new holiday for this MMO, Tinkerfest takes place at the end of July and celebrates all things Gnomes and clockwork. Considering how often this little race goes (ahem) overlooked, it’s nice to see a celebration of their culture and passion.
Lord of the Rings Online: Farmer’s Faire
Summer is a prime candidate for made-up MMO holidays, seeing as how few actual major holidays exist on our calendar in this span. And so LOTRO shoe-horned in a medium-sized event that revolves around Hobbits and (of course) food. Get on board with scrambled eggs and delicious mushrooms, and you’ll be in for a tasty treat of a festival.
Asheron’s Call: Reception Games
When a prince got married in Asheron’s Call, it was such a big event that echoes of it played out for years afterward with this festival. This sort of sounds like the type of activities that a despotic prince would demand of his subjects, as players have to sprint breathlessly to different candles and find eggs hidden in rock piles. What this has to do with a wedding anniversary, I have no idea.
Star Wars: The Old Republic: May the 4th Be With You
There’s nothing quite like a bad pun based on a calendar quirk that has been embraced by a fan community and eventually elevated into semi-official status! May 4th gets to be Star Wars Day for this fact, and SWTOR often throws a new astromech droid and some random bonuses players’ way. To be honest, it’s a pretty lame “holiday,” but it’s uniquely Star Wars and deserves a mention here.
City of Heroes: Summer Blockbuster Event
Why not throw a holiday around that greatest of summer traditions, going to see big-budget flicks at the theater? Players got to take part in the movies by going on film-themed missions such as Time Gladiator and The Casino Heist. Popcorn wasn’t included, but temporary powers and enhancement sets were.
Secret World Legends: The Equinox
Not really based on a real-world holiday but instead a contemporary calendar event, the Equinox appears in the spring and autumn on those dates to make Druids happy and challenge players to a special scenario called Stonehenge Occult Defence.
Of course, this is only scratching the surface of non-real holiday events — what are some of your favorite? Let us know in the comments!