Deciding what to buy can be a daunting, stressful endeavor. Especially in these challenging economic times. The gaming industry has expanded in recent years and, as a result, offers even more choices on where to spend your hard-earned and ever-more-precious money. If you haven't already, take a gander over at X-Play's Holiday Buyers Guide for our game recommendations, then look below at some more specific gift ideas for the gamer in your life (and yes, you can count yourself).
Gifts For Giving With General Purpose
A/V switchbox -- Depending on your TV (or your audio receiver), you might be running out of A/V inputs if you're running multiple consoles. If you've used up all your plugs, look into a switchbox and get multi-tasking. Make sure it's component at least...the HDMI boxes are going to be a bit more expensive.
Harmony remote -- Admittedly, the Harmony remote is kind of ridiculous. But in that "I can't remember how I ever got along with out it" way. One simple press of a button will activate all of your electronic components and Xbox 360 (the Wii doesn't support it, and the PS3 needs an adapter), set them to the correct inputs, and you don't have to leave the couch. Setting it up via your computer is not quite as simple, but the reward of reduced movement is worth it.
Cheap cables -- Do not, repeat, do not, pay full retail price for A/V cables. If you do, we will be sad, because that's less money you can spend on actual games. Instead, check out monoprice.com or Amazon for reasonably-priced equipment (HDMI and component cables, specifically).
Netflix subscription ($8.99 one disc/month + streaming or $10.99 one/disc month + streaming + Blu-ray access) -- The PS3 just joined the Xbox 360 as a Netflix-enabled movie stream machine. You'll need to request a disc from Netflix for the PS3, but when it arrives, there's a feast of television and movies waiting for you. Save money by taking the 1-disc option...you'll have plenty to stream while you wait for your next disc.
Gifts For The Xbox 360 Gamer
- Xbox Live Gold Card (3 month/1 year)
- Marketplace Point Card: 1600 ; 4000
- Text Messaging Kit
- Quick Charge Kit
- Wireless Headset
Gifts For The PlayStation 3 Gamer
- Bluetooth Headset
- PlayStation Eye
- Blu-ray Remote Control
- Longer USB cables (for more convenient charging)
- PSN Card $50.00
Gifts For The Wii Gamer
- Wii Classic Controller Pro (Japanese import)
- Extra Wii MotionPlus
- Wii Points Card (2000)
- Nyko Wii charge station
Gifts For The Musician
Rock Band and Guitar Hero inevitably come out of the closet around the holidays. What better way to awkwardly bond with the cousins you haven't seen in years? Inevitably, however, there's the one guy who keeps playing by himself...long after the rest of the family band has moved onto greener pastures. We've got recommendations for every step of the process. These suggestions will amp up the stage presence of your inebriated-driven performance, make everyone else sleep a little better when that one cousin starts a solo gig at 2:00 a.m. and even something to get him everyone away from the plastic instruments.
Gifts For The Historian
No, video games haven't been around as long as books, movies and music, but they have a long and noteworthy history to them. Unfortunately, the video game industry hasn't done a very good job at making it easy to access that nostalgia. Games are spread across countless platforms and just because it has a "3" or a "360" attached to it doesn't mean it'll play the games from the last piece of hardware. Until there's one box to rule them all, here are some ways you can access the tomes of video game history and remember what gaming used to be like (pixelated, lots of continues and broken controllers mostly).
- PS3/PS2 Memory Card Adapter
- Wii Memory Card
- Wii Points Card (2000), for Virtual Console
- Xbox Live Marketplace Points (4000), for Xbox Originals
- PS3 60GB (backwards compatibility)
- PSN Card ($50.00), for PSone classics
Gifts For The Traveler
Most of us will be traveling somewhere during the holidays. Personally, not only will I be flying from Los Angeles to Chicago, but from Chicago to Maryland (and a few days later, all of that in reverse!). I'm well equipped technologically to survive the many hours in the airport headed my way, but someone you love (or care enough to monitor their sanity) may not be. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of what you should be picking up for that very person. The gift receiver may not understand why they're getting all these accessories at first, but when they're stuck on the tarmac...they'll understand.
- PSN Card ($50.00), for PSP games and Videos
- Memory Stick Pro Duo (4GB)
- A Good Pair of Headphones
- A Tin of Altoids -- Opinions on carrying cases vary greatly, but if you've only got a few UMDs or a handful of DS games, nothing beats a circular Altoids tin for durable game storage.
The Gaming Newbie
Nintendo is responsible for getting many of our loved ones involved in video games that otherwise would have never considered picking up a controller. These people have some serious catching up to do. What better way to give them a direct deposit of the best gaming has to offer from some cheap downloadable games? Whether you're on an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii or PC, each platform provides exactly that, so here are some recommendations on what to put in their download queue. The best part? There are literally hundreds of great games we didn't pick. You (and who you're buying for) can't go wrong.
- If you're on Wii, Wii Points for Virtual Console and some must have games (Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Metroid)
- If you're on Xbox 360, Xbox Live Marketplace points and some most have games (Braid, Castle Crashers, Shadow Complex)
- If you're on PlayStation Network, PlayStation Network points and some must have games (Flower, PixelJunk Eden, Echochrome)
- If you're on the PC, Steam gifts for must have cheap games for $9.99 or less (Audiosurf, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, Peggle Deluxe)