After the post on Gifting 101, I promised gift guides to help out your Christmas shopping. (See last week’s list of gifts for the guitar player in your life HERE.) Today’s list is a guide for gamers done by my friend, Eric. He knows his gaming stuff. As in, he’s the one I call from the aisle of the store, with questions about what exactly I should buy my gaming kiddos…in lieu of bugging him with that call this year, I asked him to write a list. He obliged.
The world of video games has expanded since your memories of quarter-suckers at the local pizza parlor. Walk the aisles of any Target or Walmart and you will see row upon row of games and accessories. If you haven’t kept up with the times – and who can blame you – how are you supposed to know what gifts to get for those gamers you love? Here are just a few
Gift Ideas for the Gamers in Your Life:
Gamer kids (ages 6-10)
Toys to Life – Over the past few years, video game developers have created a new ingenious, yet insidious, category of games that involve actual real life toys warping into the games themselves. Ingenious, because it’s pretty cool to have a physical toy that you can play with in real life and on screen. Insidious, because there’s a “you can’t have just one” mentality to these toys that keeps kids coming back for more, making the parents’ wallets beg for mercy.
There are a few different games vying for your kids’ attention right now, but the one I suggest is called Skylanders. These are the originators of this type of game, and as such, there are many available. If your child is relatively new to gaming, these are fun games that aren’t too frustrating, or too easy. Your child will use some good problem solving by using different types of the Skylander toys to work through the levels. A starter pack will get you the game, a portal (the thing you stick the toys on to put them in the game), 2 character toys, 1 vehicle, and a poster. LINK to purchase.
Skylanders is available for the Wii, WiiU, 3DS, iPad, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4. The cost is in the $50-60 range.
Minecraft Story Mode– Unless you’ve been under a rock (or a Redstone), you’ve probably heard of Minecraft. And even if you haven’t, your child definitely has. Go ahead and ask them, but set aside some time, because they will have A LOT to say. Assuming your child is already fairly well-versed in the game, this is a great supplement to the game they already know and love.
Minecraft Story Mode is a game made by developers Telltale Games. Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books that you used to cheat at and just look at all the endings? Well, this is kind of like that, except without the cheating… Kids make choices in the game using conversation options, so it’s also a sneaky way to get in more reading. This is an episodic game, meaning it will come out in pieces over the next year, kind of like that podcast you were addicted to this summer. Episodes 1 and 2 are currently available.
This game is available for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, PC, and iPad/iPod/iPhone and costs $5 per episode, or $25 for the whole season of episodes. ($30 if bought on disc instead of downloaded) LINK to purchase.
Rocksmith – Since you are an avid reader of this blog, then surely you read Guitar Guy Steve’s gift list last week. This game will go right along with that new musician in your life. If you’re not quite ready to shell out $20 a lesson, this might be just the thing to keep your young Eddie Van Halen playing and practicing. Rocksmith is a game designed to help you learn to play guitar. Unlike Guitar Hero and Rock Band -which just try to make you feel cool -this will actually take you step-by-step through some of your favorite rock songs. The game is designed to work with any electric guitar or bass. Your child (and maybe you, too!) can learn licks from Aerosmith, Tom Petty, KISS, and many more.
This game is available for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4. The cost is in the $50-60 range. LINK to purchase.
Gifts for Teen Gamer-
Xbox Live Gold and Playstation Plus – When dealing with any teenager, it’s important to remember that they would prefer to be online in any form rather than standing there talking with you. But seriously, online gaming is a huge part of your teen gamer’s life. Something that would have been amazing when we were younger (“I can play games with someone all the way across the world instantly? I’d give my best Members Only jacket to do that!”), is old hat for today’s teens. What hasn’t changed is that these things cost money, and teens never seem to have any.
Both Microsoft (Xbox 360 and Xbox One) and Sony (Playstation 3 and 4) offer robust online services that allow for online multiplayer gaming in all manner of games. Also, each service offers monthly free games to subscribers of these online services. You can purchase codes for 1 month, 3 month, or full year subscriptions. You don’t even to wrap this gift, as you can just send the redemption code via email. Of course, if you try to send email to a teenager, they will likely laugh at you. Cost varies, but typically will be in the $4-10 per month range. The cost goes down as the length of the subscription goes up.
Xbox Live Gold – LINK to purchase
Playstation Plus – LINK to purchase
Gamefly – Speaking of subscription services, your teenage gamer will LOVE this gift. Gamefly is a subscription game rental service that is similar to Netflix -or at least to what Netflix used to be before all that new-fangled video streaming. Subscribers make a prioritized list of games they want to rent, and Gamefly sends the first-available, top-prioritized game. Games are available for nearly every currently available game system. Subscriptions range in price depending on length (3, 6, or 12 month) and number of games out at one time (1 or 2). This is a bigger ticket item, but it’s one your gamer will love. LINK to subscribe.
Hot games of the season – Traditionally, October-December is the time when many of the year’s best games are released. It’s a crowded marketplace, and if you’re not familiar with what’s out there, you might accidentally buy the wrong thing. So, here’s a short list of the most popular games for this year. Chances are, if you’ve heard one of these names mentioned by your gamer, they’re likely to want this year’s version!
- Halo 5: Guardians for Xbox One
- NBA 2K16 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and PC
- Call of Duty Black Ops 3 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and PC
- Rise of the Tomb Raider for Xbox 360 and Xbox One
- Fallout 4 for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC
- Star Wars: Battlefront for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC
If the adult gamer in your life is anything like me, they can be difficult to shop for since they buy a lot of things for themselves. 🙂 Here are a few items that might help.
Astro Gaming Headset – Tired of hearing explosions, death throes, and the pew-pew of lasers? Get a set of these headphones to improve your quality of life -as well as your gamer’s sound quality. There are a number of different options available for different sound quality and price. However, you really can’t go wrong because no matter the set you choose, playing with these on is a game changer (sorry). These will set you back anywhere from $100-300. Ask yourself, how much is being able to completely ignore your gamer’s hobby worth to you? LINK to purchase.
Retro Gaming Merchandise – Like those annoying audiophiles who insist vinyl sounds better than MP3s, we adult gamers often romanticize the gaming of our youth. Old friends like Mario, Sonic, Link, and Donkey Kong still fill us with a sweet sense of nostalgia not found elsewhere. So, your gamer will probably like a few of these items, even if they can’t actually play any of them.
Mario Pipe Mug – link
Pac-Man Cuff Links – link
Original Gaming-themed Art – link
Child’s Play – As I mentioned, adult gamers tend to do a pretty good job of buying things for themselves. But as we all know, ’tis better to give than receive. What better way to do that than by donating to a charity that helps kids, and celebrates gaming. Child’s Play is a charity that donates gaming hardware, games, and accessories to hospitals where children getting treatment desperately need a distraction. You can even choose the specific hospital you want to benefit. A donation in the name of your adult gamer would be a sweet reminder of the joy that gaming’s brought them, and a generous way of sharing the hobby they’ve loved for a lifetime. LINK to Child’s Play site.
No matter what age gamer you’re buying for, or what you end up getting, there’s one thing to remember: No gaming gift can beat out YOU spending time with them and their favorite hobby. This holiday season, sit down and play with your favorite gamers. They will appreciate it, and hey, you might even like it a little.
Got any other questions or great ideas of your own? Let us know in the comments!