The Video Game Guide To Surviving Black Friday
At last! After a stressful year the holiday season finally begins, and to kick things off we’re gathering in our homes across the country to guzzle booze and overeat, and of course give thanks for all of our blessings. And yet despite the happy occasion, we can’t relax, because we know that under the veneer of unity, family, and delicious food, lurks the looming threat of a most terrible battle. No, I’m not talking about the fight your relatives are itching to have about the recent election, when all you want is a goddamned piece of pumpkin pie. I’m speaking, of course, about Black Friday.
America’s version of Saturnalia and the lowest cultural moment of any given year, Black friday is that once-a-year special occasion when we Americans disregard class, propriety and the rule of law, and follow our bliss into the blackest pit of hell. For a few terrifying hours, the aisles of our favorite stores are splashed red with the blood of the wicked and innocent alike, as people destroy one another for the chance to get their hands on slightly discounted material goods. It is truly our darkest hour, but one that must be endured, lest come Christmas morning, our kids will tell everyone they know that daddy and mommy are cheap bastards who didn’t get them anything good.
But of course you’re going to take part, right? How could you not, what with so many incredible black friday deals going on, not to mention your Christmas shopping list. But if you want to survive the crush of people who will shoot you just as soon as they’d look at you, you’re going to need more than a belly full of turkey and booze. You’ll need a very specific set of skills. And we’re here to help.
1) Be Nice, Until It’s Time To Not Be Nice.
You learned it from playing: Mass Effect.
The first skill you need to acquire if you want to survive Black Friday is one you learned from Mass Effect: don’t be a dick. Friday doesn’t begin at 8 PM on Thursday, which means if drive down to take advantage of the local Walmart’s 11 PM start time, you’re literally ruining some poor retail worker’s Thanksgiving, not to mention your own. So, first things first, max out your paragon ratings by saying “I should go… to the store tomorrow, like normal people,” have another beer, and wait until the goddamned morning to do your shopping, OK?
2) Manage Time Carefully
You learned it from playing: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
As we all learned while playing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, nothing helps you make it through a tedious, repetitive experience that seems never to end quite like having a dagger that helps you control the power of time. Which is why, before you venture off to Target, first take a detour to the Central Asian desert and pick up your very own Dagger of Time. It’ll allow you to travel 10 seconds into the past, very useful for when some jerk nabs the last Wii U in the store. It also lets you see briefly into the future, perfect for picking the right checkout line. But whatever you do, don’t succumb to frustration and try use the dagger to kill yourself. Instead of an escape from the horror of shopping, it’ll just make you immortal, and that means you’ll be stuck at Macy’s for eternity.
3) Be Prepared To Move Fast, Like, Really Really Fast
You learned it from playing: Dishonored.
With everyone hopped up on a combination of pumpkin beer, lack of sleep, and pure hatred that only comes this once a year, you’ll need to move fast if you want to get the drop on your competition. And what better way than to take a page from Dishonored’s Corvo Attano. First, you need to get possessed by The Outsider. Yes, he’s basically a Satan analogue, but what’s more important, your soul, or Skylanders Giants? Anyway, once he’s marked you as his own, you’ll get fabulous powers, particularly ‘Blink’, which allows you to teleport instantly over a short distance. You could use it to grab a discounted item first, but it’s just as handy for letting someone else grab it, then knocking them out and taking it from them. Just be sure to stash the body, or Mall Security is going to be all over you.
4) Keep Your Eyes On The Prize, Literally
As played in: Batman: Arkham Asylum; Assassin’s Creed; Deus Ex: Human Revolution; Hitman Absolution, etc…
If you’re going to get your hands on that cut-rate SSD, you can’t just be fast or unstuck in time, you also need to be able to quickly identify the weakest fellow shoppers in the store. That’s why it’s critically important that before venturing out, you need to make sure you’ve joined a clandestine organization with the resources to train you for years. Or just be rich. By joining the Assassins, The Agency, Sarif Industries, or making sure that your billionaire parents die and leave you everything, you’ll gain the ability to see the world in X-ray vision, the perfect way to single out who, and who not, you’ll be able to take out of the equation.
5) Don’t Be Afraid Of Good Ol’ Fashioned Brute Force
As played in: Half-Life
Of course, magical artifacts and superior training will only get you so far. If you’re serious about bringing home that Logitech headset, you’re going to have to be willing to get your hands dirty. But why waste your time learning complicated martial arts when you can just do like Gordon Freeman, and carry a crowbar with you at all times. Someone rips LOL Elmo out out of your hands? That’s a kneecapping. Someone grabs a PS3 Slim before you can? Crowbar to the face. And if someone makes you buy a Wii U? Crowbar induced back injury. Just make sure that a portal to hell doesn’t accidentally open while you’re shopping. Aside from the one that opened in the line before the store opened, of course.
6) Endorse Your Favorite Store On The Citadel
As played in: Mass Effect 2, Fallout.
Finally, there’s one simple thing you can do to make your Black Friday shopping a snap, and that’s to work out some sweet quid pro quo with local retailers. But if we’ve learned anything from playing RPGs, it’s that this takes a lot of work. That’s why, in the weeks before Black Friday madness, why not take a trip to your local mall and start talking to the proprietors. It is guaranteed you’ll eventually find one or two in need of assistance, assistance only you can provide. Perhaps they need you to pick up lunch from the food court. Or maybe they need a message delivered to their friend who works on the other side of the mall. More likely, they’ll need you to go to a completely different mall and rescue their sister from a gang of pirates holed up in that Mall’s access tunnels.
Once you’ve delivered your message, retrieved your package, or killed all the mall pirates, you’ll have earned the gratitude and respect of the Gap’s assistant manager. After that, they’ll be absolutely guaranteed to give you access to the employee discount on cargo pants. But if that’s too hard, you could just become famous. That way, you can offer to give a celebrity endorsement, securing not only your discount, but your fame, forever.
So go forth, gamers, safe in the knowledge that you’re about to win Christmas shopping forever. And if you could, grab us a bottle of Whisky while you’re out? We’re planning to wait until next week.