It's a bit early to start thinking about Christmas, but since this season above all others is a thing of many rituals, it shouldn't be too surprising when the rituals start slipping forward a little. Last week Starbucks brought out its red cups, and this week, perhaps because of all that, I've been looking to Fortnite to do its special Christmas thing.
It involves the shrubbery scattered about the place. Shrubbery that, when I first started playing the game, was incredibly important to me. Before I knew what I was doing - I still don't know what I'm doing - I spent a lot of time hiding in Fortnite's many bushes. They gave me an elbow up on a game that seemed to be full of much more talented players. I could get inside the circle, park in a bush and then wait as the player count ticked down.
Then Christmas came, and the bushes were suddenly transformed. They had fairy lights strung through them, which made them festive, but also made them more visible. It was a trade-off I was happy with, though, because I like it when a game like Fortnite is able to note the passage of time. There has always been a little of Animal Crossing to Fortnite. Maybe this is where I first started thinking about that.
Let's get real, though: the really great thing about the Christmas Bushes in Fortnite is that you could shoot from inside them a lot better. You can shoot from a non-Christmas Bush, sure, but your view is generally impeded by shrubbery when you aim. The Christmas Bush, for whatever reason, ditched the view of shrubbery when you aimed from inside it. It was a perfect place to get a few festive kills.
Since that first Christmas, Fortnite has stepped up its game. Was it last year - only last year? - when the arrival of Christmas was noted by players' breath becoming visible as a gentle mist on the game's starter island? What a magical little touch that was - how illustrative of the care and attention that goes into the crafting of this world.
Whatever happens this Christmas, I'll be waiting for the return of the fairy lights - and watching out for my breath misting the air. Christmas is a thing of rituals, and so is Fortnite.