Imagine that somehow you had travelled forward in time from an age before video games consoles existed. Stepping into the sitting room of a modern day household, you are confronted with the sight of young people blasting others in the face on a television screen. You would probably be horrified by this mass killing, turn your back and walk straight out of the house. The problem is that you wouldn't get far, as Call of Duty, the game you have just witnessed, pops up in just about every home with kids the world over.
People get seriously addicted to Call of Duty, pouring hours of their lives into competitive multiplayer. This means less time spent with the family and, as this is the Good Christmas and all, is not something we want. If you cant beat 'em, join 'em, is the idea here. So, instead, why not learn how to play the game from your young ones and spend time with them in the process?
Of course, it might be that as a parent you're into it before your kids have had a chance. If that happens to be you, then why not teach your little ones to get involved with you and your COD addiction? After all, if it's not a responsible adult such as yourself showing them the way, then who knows what terrible habits they might pick up with their mates leading the charge?
Where to start?
The first thing we suggest doing is moving your games console. Most of the time they are relegated to play rooms or bedrooms, but having it sat beneath the family TV in your lounge will mean everyone can play together.
The next step is taking the edge off the game for either your parents, or if you're an adult, your kids. Call of Duty can be an incredibly loud and confusing game if you're not used to it, so get them up to speed on exactly how it works with a quick multiplayer match. Try and keep this to a minimum though, as the shorter the amount of time spent playing alone the better. Believe us, whoever you are trying to teach will get bored.
Now we suggest taking the first major step into your family’s COD training, pitting them all up against each other. This is where the Good Christmas really begins and is guaranteed to generate plenty of laughs as you watch you Grandma spin around in circles while your Dad fires wildly around her head.
Set up something like a free for all and hand out four controllers to everyone involved. If you are going to be playing yourself, tone down your skills a bit so that you aren’t perpetually wasting your family. Instead, offer hints and tips to those struggling.
This stage of COD training needs to go on until the person you are teaching has a basic grasp of the controls, otherwise the internet play to come will consist of nothing but repeat deaths. If trainees are really suffering at the hands of others, why not switch up control schemes, show them things like inverted play or even walk them through a match side by side, just to build up their confidence.
COD is a game that can be particularly brutal and temper tantrums amongst the younger ones are likely. If you spot any signs of agitation - things like controller rage or repeated shouts of "that's not fair" and "I'm going to my room" - then turn the game off and start again later.
Create your character
Once you have your own personal COD boot camp out of the way, it's time to introduce your trainee soldiers to the idea of playing the game on the Internet.
Hopefully a lot of the spinning/random firing will have now been worked out of the system, leaving the trainee wandering around freely and letting off rounds without much difficulty. We personally would plan on holding off from the next step until you can be absolutely sure the family has got the game down. With any luck though, now should be the time to let the family choose what sort of weapons they want to use.
In order to keep the family element going, why not suggest different specialisations for each? That way, when it comes to playing later, your family will form a consistent team that games well together. Say, for example, you turn your Grandma into a shotgun expert. It would be even better if you could have your Grandad providing sniper cover from behind, with mother and son rushing through the middle firing SMGs. Can you picture a better family moment?
Those struggling with the dual analogue stick element of things, best try and push them towards being a sniper, as that way they only have to deal with one single stick for aiming. Fans of shooting from the hip will likely do a lot better using things like SMGs. Don’t bother your family with the niceties of perks. Just set them up in a way that you think will suit them best. If they want to change them, then they can, once they have a few hours under their belt that is.
Now comes judgement day and setting your family free on a real live game of Call of Duty. Expect the first match to be a relatively traumatic affair for all concerned. Make sure you sit yourself next to your trainee to comfort them as they get repeatedly blown to bits. As soon as you see any signs of irritation reaching dangerous levels, then pull them out of the game. This is supposed to be family-friendly play time and you don’t want a tantrum on your hands.
While you're playing, why not offer a few words of wisdom about the futility of war, particularly if you're teaching a young one about the ways of COD? Christmas isn’t really supposed to be about violence and, sure, we know gaming is just a bit of fun, but a few moral lessons could be learnt while you are at it. Black Ops is particularly useful for this, as set in ‘Nam there is at least a basic level of historical accuracy rather than trying to teach your kids about the perils of a World War 3 between Russians and Americans. Anyway, keep it light. Best not to bore the family with too big a history lesson. It could detract from the joys of the COD action going down on screen.
So, the family is all settled down to a decent game of COD, they are starting to pwn, even Grandmother is beginning to destroy the competition. But along the way, they have picked up a few rather cheeky Call of Duty habits that go against a lot of the Christmas spirit.
First up is how to deal with a gran who is a bit of a camper. Sure the old lady might be racking up the kills but you don’t want her getting a reputation. If it looks like your Nan keeps hiding in corners with a shotgun, force her out of her comfort zone by making her switch weapons. Say, for example, she is a master with an SMG, then make her use a long range weapon or just pistols, it will make her have to run about in order to get any kills.
Next up are the dangers of tea bagging. If, for some reason, your favourite son has picked up the dirty habit of celebrating over a kill he has just made by crouching onto the victim's face, then it needs to stop. We know a telling off isn’t what Good Christmas is about, so we have a top tip to train him out of it. This one is an easy one, simply follow him round for every match and each time you catch him making a boo boo onto a kill, then shoot him in the head.
The final habit that could detract from a thoroughly happy CODmas is trash talk over in-game chat. If your Grandad appears to be putting down adversaries after each kill, calling them n00bs and so forth, then this needs to be stopped. But how do you do this, especially after all the training you have given them?
Well, if you have a little family of pwners, all sitting round gaming and leading each round, trash talking all the way, then why not return to where you started and go in for the final battle yourself? The difference is that this time everyone is only allowed to compliment each family member after kills. Better still, offer a prize for the most polite CODer.
Christmas is for n00bz
So, you have transformed your entire family into a L337 COD gang who wander the multiplayer servers causing mayhem and destruction wherever they go. Now it's time to capitalise on what you set out to do in the first place - play COD with your family.
With the console sat in the living room, start handing out those controllers. This is going to be Christmas Day with a twist. Rather than going for individual presents for each, organise a tournament with gifts ranked in order of who does best. The winner, for example, could take home something like a box of chocolates, the loser gets a toy from a cracker.
We understand this might go against a lot of the common man’s Christmas spirit, but what won't, however, is when you surprise the family post-tournament with presents for each and every one of them - something to remember the day with, such as little plastic guns or soldiers. Even a helmet with "Born To Kill" written on the side would look great on your Grandad when he falls asleep in his armchair after the Queen's Speech.
Whatever happens, we wish you best of luck in getting the family sat round the CODmas tree and getting their game on. One word of advice, don’t underestimate the elderly, they tend to get rather serious about war.
Any other Christmas tips you can think of to add to the Christmas COD excitement? Let us know in the comments below...