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The 5 ugly gaming Christmas sweaters we'd actually wear

Sonic Christmas sweater close-up
(Image credit: Sega)

There are a lot of tacky gaming Christmas sweaters. Sometime in the last few years the ironic ugly sweater boom spread to gaming, and when I realized how many of these accursed holiday objects there are out there, I did the only obvious thing: I collected 32 of them and made them fight to the death in a sweater battle royale. Along the way something unexpected happened: I kind of started to love these sweaters.

I thought about buying several of them, which is several more ironically ugly sweaters than anyone should really own. The temptation started when I bought Microsoft's annual Windows sweater, last year's repping MS Paint, and realized I really liked wearing it throughout the holidays. Now a year later I'm thinking about all those sweaters I put in the battle royale and wondering, would I wear that? The answer, frighteningly, is "yes" for more than one of them.

So I asked the PC Gamer team if I was the only one, and thankfully I wasn't. Maybe 2020 and 2021 have battered our brains to bits, but we're ready to roll into the holidays in an absolute cotton void of style.

Here are the ugly PC gaming sweaters we could find in stock this year that we'd actually wear with some hesitation and a dash of shame, but not enough of either to stop us.

D&D Beholder 

christmas sweater

This guy's just cute. The grey brick pattern, keys, and candles don't really scream holiday sweater, but there's something endearing about the Beholder's toothy grin and all those tentacles. This may not be the jumper for a family Christmas party, but it'll go over well at the gaming table. 

Lemmings

christmas sweater

The Lemmings holiday sweater works because it's more about the pattern than highlighting a brand. Too many ugly gaming sweaters miss the point by focusing on their logo too much, but here we just get a whole bunch of little Lemmings scattered around an appropriately red sweater with a pattern that sort of looks like snow and icicles. Simple is good! 

Where's Waldo 

christmas sweater

The only Christmas sweater of the bunch that's both based on a game and kind of a game in itself. Where's Waldo (aka Wally) makes for a great patterned sweater much like Lemmings. The art here isn't ugly at all, though it does come out to a pretty intense wall of Santas. If there's anything wrong with this sweater, it's having to potentially dodge weirdos on the street who really want to find Waldo on your chest before letting you pass. 

Warhammer 40K: Imperial Tidings 

christmas sweater

This Warhammer 40,000 sweater is so lightly holiday themed it's easy to miss that it's even made for the season—it has almost as many skulls as snowflakes. I'd wear that Imperium eagle year-round. The colors are so bright they're borderline garish, but the gold and blue pairing works well. All hail Emperor Santa, I guess? 

Sonic the Hedgehog 

christmas sweater

I'm not sure if Sonic here is the original ugly gaming Christmas sweater, but I've seen it floating around for years, and for good reason: it just perfectly nails the aesthetic. Sonic looks kind of off-brand, like a knock-off drawn poorly in Paint. Even the font looks a little shaky. But the color scheme works really well, with the Christmasy red and white nicely accented by the gold rings. It has a perfect five star rating on Amazon and won our battle royale last year, beating out Master Chief's Happy Halo-Days fit. You're an icon, Sonic. 

Wes Fenlon

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games. When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old RPG or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).