Well, it's that time of year again where video game companies send out their Christmas cards - some of them very cool, actually - and so here at GameSetWatch, we thought we'd break out the scanner and bring back a holiday tradition - neat game developer Xmas card scanning! (It's nice to showcase the often-custom artwork to the world, especially if it arrives in physical form and isn't posted online anywhere.)

The alert among you may recall that GSW did just this in 2006 and 2007 - lots of cool cards there, and links to other people scanning them. But we skipped it in 2008, partly because we were too freakin' busy - but also because there were lots of other outlets, including C&VG, the folks at Joystiq, and the GamerTell guys on the case.

This year, it seems to have been a lot quieter on the scanning front, but I did find a GamerTell gallery with a number of neat Xmas cards in it. (Comment or ping us if you know of other outlets showcasing cards, or have some you've scanned yourself.)

Anyhow, having pooled the GDC, Game Developer magazine and Gamasutra office's cards for this good cause, we'll be showcasing some of the best cards we got across multiple posts today, tomorrow, and Xmas day. Here goes:

  

The awesome Austin, TX-based indie studio Twisted Pixel, creators of The Maw and 'Splosion Man, sent along this card, complete with 'Season's Meatings' salutations and Splosion Man himself handing out all kinds of slabs of raw flesh for the holidays. Also, if you're going to put hilarious gurning employees and Die Hard references on the back of your card, don't expect us not to scan it, yay:

Anyhow, what's up next? Ah yes, something a little more... austere:

This postcard is from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, and continues the subtle snowflake/holiday season-like effects with Sony icons that the company has sent out in previous years. Neat.

The nice folks at Natsume's U.S. office have made Harvest Moon a big part of their business, so it's no surprise that their Xmas card features plenty of sheep, chicken, and vegetables -- with some bonus Xmas elves and naughty monkeys.

Zoonami's Bonsai Barber for WiiWare was one of the most under-rated games of the year for us, and Martin Hollis' Cambridge, UK company's Xmas card features the main characters hanging their hair-cutting implements from the Christmas tree for everyone to admire.

Finally for this batch, and not too far away geographically of course, the chaps at Rare sent over this card featuring the famous Rare logo swathed in holiday trappings, with lots of cute ephemera scattered around it. Hints on their next games anywhere in there? No idea, we'll leave that to the legions of conspiracy theorists out there, but it sure is a cute card anyhow. More cards soon...

[If you'd like to be featured in our late Xmas card round-up or add us to your list for subsequent years, our HQ address is on the parent company page, mark c/o Gamasutra or GameSetWatch.]