A gamer can be hard to shop for, unless you know exactly what they need. But whether they’re glued to a tablet, playing on console, or gaming on PC, here are some gifts every gamer can appreciate.
Got an Xbox true believer in your household? Get them an Xbox One. Microsoft’s new console is almost shockingly ambitious, designed to multitask between gaming, television, video calls and more. Also of use is that Microsoft has substantially overhauled the technology, improving the Kinect, while taking a “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” attitude to the controller and dashboard. It’s true that there are concerns, especially since Microsoft had to alter a whole series of policies after gamers made their anger with those policies clear. But if they have to have the next Halo, this will put them ahead of the game.
Alternately, if they’re a PS Partisan, the choice is obvious: The PS4. The PS4 is something of a change in direction for Sony after the PS3, their attempt to make a “brain” for your living room. In contrast, the PS4 is about the games. Yes, you can still stream media through it, but Sony was so focused on games, they have to patch in MP3 and DNLA support. In short, if you’ve got a gamer, one of these two consoles should do the trick.
The PlayStation Vita was something of a white elephant for a long time; it cost $300, didn’t have much support, and had proprietary memory cards you had to buy. Sony, however, has not only cut the price to something more competitive in line with the 3DS, but it’s also added an enormous amount of independent game support for its little console, and even better, a Remote Play feature with the PS4. Much like the Wii U, you can now play PS4 games streamed to your Vita while the TV is used for something else… perfect for settling living room disputes.
A gaming chair isn’t a controller, even if it sounds like one. In actuality, it’s a chair with speakers built into it that can come with vibration as well, to make the game more immersive. However, not all chairs are created equal. Look for chairs that can wirelessly sync with your gamer’s console, and ensure that they’ll have room for it in their game room or living room; these are full fledged chairs, and it may be difficult to
fit them into some dens.
[box_light]Our Recommendation: Wireless X Rocker Pro Series Video Rocker with Vibration[/box_light]
A good set of speakers can make a game far more immersive, and there are plenty of speaker sets out there for you to pick from. However, keep a few points in mind: The bigger the drivers, the better the general sound quality, so a tiny set of speakers just isn’t going to sound as good as a larger set, as a rule of thumb. Secondly, more advanced systems may require more equipment, like an amplifier or a decoder; think about the space your gamer has, and the home theater setup in it; if it’s a TV on a stand and a console underneath, make sure the speakers you buy are an all-in-one kit.
[box_light]Our Recommendation: The Monoprice 108247 Speaker System. It’s smaller than we might like, but the quality is top-notch, especially for the price.[/box_light]
One of the biggest problems with video game controllers is that once they’re out of power, they’ve got to be plugged into the console to charge. Fortunately, there’s a solution for this particular problem: Charging docks. You simply slot the controller into the dock, and it quickly charges up, sometimes in as little as an hour depending on the dock and the system. And if that’s a little pricey, look into a longer charging cord, so they don’t need to sit quite so close to the TV.
PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold Memberships
If your gamer plays a lot of multiplayer, they’ll need memberships to these online services for the next generation of consoles. And membership also comes with perks like free games, making it the gift that keeps on giving.
A New Graphics Card
PC gaming is a lot of fun, but one downside is that you’ve got to upgrade your gaming PC periodically to ensure that it can take the best games at the best resolution. So, look into getting the latest and greatest graphics card for their gaming PC.
[box_light]Our Recommendation: The GeForce GTX Titan line, which will futureproof their computer for years.[/box_light]
A Better Monitor
A computer monitor is a lot different from your average TV; it’s got a much higher resolution and better color fidelity. A PC gamer will appreciate a monitor with a dense pixel count; look for thinner and lighter monitors, as well, to bolster the system.
[box_light]Our Recommendation: The ASUS VG248QE 24-Inch Screen LED-lit Monitor, designed with gaming in mind and beloved by gamers everywhere.[/box_light]
A PC gamer’s worst nightmare can be summed up in two words: Power surge. While electronics have increasingly good protection built into them to protect against power surges, a big spike can still fry hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of electronics. Investing in some high quality surge protection will make this a lot less likely, and protect their investment against the vagaries of the power company and lightning storms.
[box_light]Our Recommendation: The Belkin Conserve surge protector will shut off both the computer and everything connected to it, reducing power suck and keeping power spikes from damaging valuable gear.[/box_light]
Many PC gamers get their games from Steam; some gift certificates will help them get the games they want, especially if it’s hard, or impossible, to find a “boxed” copy of a game.
While a lot of mobile games are built to be played on phones, many of them are built with controllers in mind. Android has had controllers available for a while, but iOS 7 finally includes controller support, so if they’re glued to their phone, you can help them get the most out of the game. Look for controllers that charge the phone while you play, or offer a stand to help gamers get the most out of their experience.
[box_light]Our Recommendation: MOGA Power A for iPhone and the MOGA Pocket Controller for Android.[/box_light]
App Store Cards
Hey, gamers need games, and even $10 on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store will get them a lot of gameplay.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.