Did you know that earlier this week was National Video Games Day? We didn't. In fact, we are getting an inkling that this might not be a real holiday.
Kotaku found out this week, through Twitter's "Trending" page, that today is National Video Games Day. It might even just be Video Games Day, depending who you ask. Sure, Twitter's purpose, aside from keeping us in perpetual states of agony and frustration, is to tell us when something important is happening. But at some point, several hundred days into the year, it's hard not to notice that every day seems to be National Hot Dog Day or National Man Bun Day or National Anime Was A Mistake Day, which, now that I think about it, is every day.
Who decreed September 12 National Video Games Day? Who are you? Where did this day come from? Is this real life? Or could this holiday perhaps be fake?
We suspect that it might be fake.
1. There have been a lot of different National Video Games Days
A cursory Twitter search dredges up October 2, September 18, July 12 and dozens of other days that were, at one point, deemed National Video Games Day.
Suspicious! And then, there's September 12's dark winter twin, July 8's #NationalVideoGameDay. (Note the lack of plural. Maybe that's the one for celebrating one specific game?) NationalToday.com, which lists 1722 "special" days, or 4.7 per day, explains that games are great on September's National Video Games Day because of "happiness", "a sense of accomplishment" and "escape". In stark contrast to this, their entry for National Video Game Day explains that games are great on July 8 because they're "timeless", "save us from boredom" and "teach us valuable life lessons". No reason for the distinction is provided.
2. The origins of National Video Games Day are decidedly unclear
After some meticulous digging and a painful hand cramp, I unearthed what appears to be the official first English tweet inaugurating #videogameday, which was published on the World Wide Web on 28 December 2009:
I declare today #videogameday
— dominic (@dencinias) December 27, 2009
It didn't catch on.
Of course, because history existed before Twitter, that wasn't the first mention of this alleged holiday. Video game historian Frank Cifaldi published an article this week in which he discovered that a 1991 edition of Chase bank's calendar of events lists National Video Games Day on July 8. It's "A day for kids of all ages who enjoy video games to celebrate the fun they have while playing them". It was sponsored by David Earle, president of the Kid Vid Warriors. No Google results turn up for the aforementioned warriors.
In a tweet, Cifaldi says that, "The date is always attributed to Earle from 1991-1996. Starting in 1997 - the first year it's September 12 - there is no attribution." He adds: "We don't know: Who Earle was; What Kid Vid Warriors/Kid Video Warriors was; Why any of these dates were chosen; Whether Earle submitted in '97." Cifaldi also unearthed a 2008 blurb from The Teacher's Calendar School Year, corroborating that September 12 is indeed Video Games Day -- but no explanation as to why the date switched:
3. Nobody gets anything special on #NationalVideoGamesDay
On the day I asked my boss, Kotaku US editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo, if I could take the rest of the day off. "Absolutely not," he said.
Earlier this week, #videogamesday was trending on Twitter. Yes, of course it was an impetus for gamers to express their love and appreciation for some nostalgic retro game like GoldenEye. It was also been a big ol' brand party:
— Chuck E. Cheese's (@ChuckECheeses) September 12, 2017
— LogitechG (@LogitechG) September 12, 2017
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) September 12, 2017
Happy #VideoGamesDay ? ?
Screenshot and comment which title you get, + you could win it! pic.twitter.com/dNNEB28Mfn
— Xbox UK (@xboxuk) September 12, 2017
— Loot Crate (@lootcrate) September 12, 2017
— AV⚡️HD (@AV_HD) September 12, 2016
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 12, 2017
— BioWare (@bioware) September 12, 2017
A lot of brands stand to gain by coming off like cool, hip dads who instead of providing pocket money to their kids, nab a buck or 60 from their wallets. It's a great way to get retweeted among the gaming audience, who generally love hashtags, spending money and brands. Arby's is all over gaming right now. And then, thankfully, there's Sonic, who keeps it real:
— Sonic the Hedgehog (@sonic_hedgehog) September 12, 2016
In conclusion, we do not believe that National Video Games Day is a real holiday, and we'd like to apologise to anyone who feels crushed by this revelation.