Another Holiday season is upon us and chances are if you are reading this you have a gamer on your list and are clueless as to what to buy them. Fear not, my friend, I have compiled a list of some of this year’s best gift ideas for gamers of all ages and genders. From games to giftcards to accessories to what not to do, I have it all covered. Just listen closely and you will increase your chances of seeing a happy face on Christmas morning rather then a disappointed one.
When entering a gaming store, or the gaming section of your local electronics retailer, it’s very easy to become disoriented by the vast selection of available titles. Instead of rifling through box after box and guessing which one your recipient might like, approach a customer service representative and ask for one of these following hits:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii, DS
Target Audience: Adult or mature gamers, online gamers, fans of first-person shooters
Why: CoD:MW3 has received praise from all its critics and is heralded as one of the best online multiplayer first person shooter games available for consoles. The game has only been out for a couple weeks but is already setting the standard for realistic console shooters to come.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Available for: Nintendo Wii
Target Audience: Gamers of all ages and both genders, retro gamers, adventure and fantasy fans
Why: The original gaming generation, people currently 25-35, now have families of their own and young children who are probably also gamers. LoZ:SS takes gamers back to the glory days of the original Nintendo console and will undoubtedly be one of the top sellers for the Wii this season.
Forza Motorsport 4
Available for: Xbox 360
Target Audience: Gearheads, men of all ages
Why: Forza Motorsport 4 is this year’s must-have racing title. The realistic graphics, long career mode and excellent gameplay ensures great replayability and a long life in your gamer’s collection.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Available for: PlayStation3
Target Audience: Action gamers, men 18-35
Why: Uncharted 3 is this year’s must have PS3 title. The stunning graphics and movie like storyline are big reasons it is winning over critics and gamers alike.
Plants vs. Zombies
Available for: PC, Mac, iOS, DS, XBLA
Target Audience: Men, woman, children, teens, adults, casual gamers, experienced gamers, gamers with lower end PCs, gifters on a budget
Why: Plants vs. Zombies is a very simple concept that is performed excellently. Its story mode is easy enough for the most casual of casual gamers and the extra modes will keep the experienced gamers coming back for weeks to try to get higher scores. Plus the under $20 price will keep your wallet happy too. This game is a few years old, but the game still holds up. It may be harder to find, but if your gamer hasn’t played it, they should.
Super Mario Land 3D
Available for: 3DS
Target Audience: People who own 3DSes
Why: Why? Because 3DS owners do not have a lot of great game options right now. This is one of the few you can’t go wrong with.
But what if the gamer you’re shopping for already has all the games they want? Here are some non-game ideas:
Every gamer can use some accessories for their systems, most popular would be controllers. When buying controllers try to stick with the first party manufacturers; Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, they may cost a little more but they are usually the most reliable, responsive and comfortable to use. Another accessory is rechargeable battery packs as well as recharge stations. Most battery packs consist of two AA batteries, which can get costly and annoying.
Another excellent idea is giftcards. These could come in many forms, such as a predetermined amount to a favorite brick and mortar or online store, a subscription to a game magazine, a few months subscription to a rental service like Gamefly or Gametap, Xbox Live memberships or currency in online games or services like Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, or iTunes.
Things to avoid
Just with any hobby in life, if you are unfamiliar with gaming as a whole you may be clueless when it comes to shopping for a gamer. My first tip of advice is to avoid general merchandise stores. Although they often have the best prices on everything else, their video games are overpriced. This doesn’t include new releases since they have a common starting price but these stores are often the last ones to reduce prices on older games. On top of this their employees, though probably nice people, are less likely to be knowledgeable on all things gaming, especially during the holiday season, when workers may be asked to work outside of their normal departments during peak hours. Stick to gaming or electronic specific stores.
With so many sequels in today’s market it is imperative you get the right edition of a game. With Guitar Hero for example there are a half dozen editions that have been released in the last couple years that can easily be mistaken for each other, this is where going to a general merchandise store could affect you.
Finally, make sure you are purchasing for the correct console. Not only can games be crossed up across the current generation’s platforms, but distinguishing PS2 from PS3 is a must. Funny story, when I was a young teenager I wanted Final Fantasy VII for the PC for Christmas because I didn’t own a PlayStation. My Mom wrapped up a good sized box and put my Dad’s name on it. I wasn’t paying attention when he opened it but he pulled out a handful of games and handed them to me. I was disappointed because although one of them was FFVII, it was for PlayStation not PC. My mom acted shocked and couldn’t believe she had bought games for the wrong system. My Dad then pulled a PlayStation out of the box and I couldn’t believe it. Feel free to use this on your own child, but don’t be expecting it work as well on them. I am a gullible person. A few weeks prior, my sister asked my opinion on which system I preferred, PlayStation or Nintendo 64 claiming her boss wanted to buy one but wasn’t sure which. I was just glad to give my opinion, not at all thinking the system was for me.
Following these ideas might not win over every gamer, but it will be successful for most of them. Also, if anyone who might be buying me something is reading this, all of these ideas would make a great edition to my gaming library.