The evolution of Santa Claus

Celebrated since the game’s debut in 2004, World of WarCraft’s Feast of Winter Veil provides an broad array of Christmassy activities for players, all of them ultimately headed up by the suspiciously cynical Greatfather Winter.

Sure, he’s just an old dwarf in a red coat that kind of looks vaguely like a medieval version of Santa. But what makes Greatfather Winter interesting is that there’s another version of him skulking around in Ogrimmar that looks nothing like any of the other Santas on this list:

OK, maybe he looks a LITTLE like them. There’s the red outfit and the beard to consider. But this is the first Santa (or Santa stand-in) we’ve ever seen that features tusks in its natural state. Let’s hope it’s not the last.

He may have a creepy stare, a shirt that’s falling off and an unnatural hunger for human flesh, but for our money, the zombie Santa from Infected is the best Santa ever:

Leave it to St. Nick to become the de facto mascot of one of the PSP’s best, most unfairly overlooked zombie shooters. In no other game is he quite this numerous, this menacing or this unforgettable. Secret of Mana’s mutant Santa has nothing on this monster, because left to his own devices, Santa’s zombie helpers will quickly turn into giant grotesques that are capable of much nastier things than just smacking you in the face with a bell.

A return to friendlier Santas, the version of Kris Kringle from The Nightmare Before Christmas (and specifically the NmBC-themed area of Kingdom Hearts II) is one of St. Nick’s more stylized appearances. He’s impossibly fat and his beard is improbably long, but this isn’t a dimwitted, confused Moron Santa or a cynical deliverer of lethal presents – no, this Santa is sincere, with a competent gleam in his eye that only comes from the experience of being kidnapped by goofy monsters in a mix-up over who gets to administer which holiday.

Above: Plus, those black gloves make him look about as badass as a Santa can get

You could also argue that Jack Skellington there is a Santa as well, but while we’ve allowed a couple of impostors on the list already, one Santa (or at least one Santa type) per game is more than enough. Besides, Jack looks shabby and out of his element; it takes a real Santa to make that look work.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.