Having just started playing Watchdogs 2 by spending the last half an hour driving around in an ice-cream truck with the jingles on, I thought it might be a nice idea to ignore the ‘video game violence’ argument, and instead concentrate on all the good ways video games can influence your life and make you a better person. So in the spirit of the season of goodwill, here we go…

1. Don’t be a dick.

Very few video games will reward you for being a total ass-hat (with the exception of Goat Simulator, of course) and some will actively penalize you for whomping on civilians and animals by taking away heroism points, such as Red Dead Redemption where people will become hostile to you, or Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, where you’re condemned to walk around drenched in blood that won’t wash off if you’re too big a jerk. While minor shenanigans can be fun, serious dickishness just doesn’t get you anywhere. Life is a multiplayer game; you’ll get a lot further if you play co-operatively, and people will be a lot less likely to want to kill you. Remember, one hundred days of heroism can be undone with one dead chicken.

2. Don’t immediately assume everyone else is a dick.

We’ve all done it; shoot first and ask questions later. It works as a self-preservation tactic, but it’s no good when you later find out that that character could have helped you with a sticky situation. The lesson here is simple – talk to people before you shoot them down in a hail arrows, because you might actually find a great companion or some really good advice for fighting that dragon.

3. Look after your friends!

This goes without saying, right? Make continual demands of them and they’ll soon get fed up, but treat them right and they’ll be around when you need them. Friends aren’t just there to carry all your stuff or protect you when you need protecting, friendship is a two-way street. Make sure they’re well-protected too, and have plenty of sweet rolls and cheese wheels to show them you care.

4. Look after yourself!

Being a hero twenty-four-seven can get you down if you don’t take some time out for yourself. Go and explore places you’ve never explored before, because you never know what you’ll find. True, it could be a cannibal campsite or a strange, abandoned school bus that someone appears to be living in, but it might just be something amazing that nobody has ever found before, like buried treasure or a giant, fossilized crab! Read all the books, try all the crafts, and eat all the treats, because enriching your life is always beneficial. Heck, drive around in an ice-cream van with the jingles on if it makes you happy!

5. Don’t get over-encumbered.

Being over-encumbered means that you’re carrying far too much around with you, so make sure you have a check every now and then to see if there’s anything you can get rid of. Haven’t used that paralyzing poison in months? Get rid of it. Don’t need those outfits anymore because you have some kick-ass armour? Sell them for some extra cash, or see if your friends can make use of them! Either way, clearing out any unnecessary baggage makes you feel a lot better, and gets you moving again.

6. There’s always more than one way to solve a problem.

If there’s one great thing that video games do teach us, this is it. If there’s a problem that seems to be impassable with no hope of ever solving, thinking outside the box can usually help, and will help you feel creative at the same time. And if you really can’t think of a way to overcome the problem, talking to someone can help to. Maybe they’ve tried to beat the same problem and succeeded, but you never know ‘til you ask! And hey, if all else fails, there’s always Google…

Game responsibly everyone, and happy holidays from The Nerdic Vikings!