2011 Gifts for Every Gamer Guide–Part 1: Console Commandos

Games-Console-Christmas-Tree-Ornaments_1The 2011 ESA report on the demographics of gamers indicate that 72% of American households play computer and video games. The average age of those gamers is 37. Buying gifts for more than one person? You definitely have a gamer on your list. And they’re “mature”.

The holiday season is a time where we all crack open our piggy banks and wrack our brains to think of the best surprise for that special someone in your life. And we do mean best! While there are some inexpensive items on this list, we set a $200 spending limit and we’re not afraid to use it.

We’ll be breaking down the generic “gamer” moniker into it’s various flavors and choosing one item we feel would make prefect surprise for your target of holiday cheer.

Don’t care enough to send the very best? We’ll clue you in on the best gift card based on their gaming platform of choice.

In this first of our four part special 2011 Gifts for Every Gamer Guide, we go shopping for the most widely recognized and popular form of gamer: Those trash talking, gamepad abusing console jockeys. And Wii players.

Microsoft Xbox 360

Ear Force X41 (XBOX LIVE Chat + Wireless Digital RF Game Audio with Dolby Headphone 7.1 Surround Sound)While the marketing this season surely points the way to Microsoft’s Kinect camera system as an obvious choice, we at GUO disagree. Kinect launched in November 2010 and has ridden a very loud hype train ever since. Many gamers have already decided to sign on or turned away in disgust.  After a good bit of head scratching and soul searching, we believe we’ve found an alternative.

This is the Turtle Beach Ear Force X41 wireless headset. Capable of delivering 7.1 digital surround sound and sporting separate volume controls for both game and chat on the ear cups, the X41 is a confortable, lightweight headset that allows your favorite smack talking Call of Duty junkie to finally cut the cord. Don’t forget a pack of AAA batteries to go with this!

Originally listing for $200, these can be found quite easily for less than $150 ($140 at Amazon)

Xbox 360 Gift Card Suggestions: If they play online, get Xbox Live Points (Points, not Xbox Live subscription). If offline, get a GameStop gift card.

Sony PlayStation 3

3991358 AngleNo group of gamers have had it rougher this year than PS3 players. From identity theft, to the PSN outage, to Sony’s ridiculously overpriced, under-featured Playstation 3D Display, PlayStation gamers have been sucker punched so many times this year it’s a wonder they’re not coughing up blood. This Christmas we’ve uncovered a gift bundle that is sure to rekindle their love of the big, black box of boom.

The PlayStation Move Mayhem Bundle packs in an absurd amount of holiday joy. You get the PlayStation Eye camera, Move motion controller, Nunchuck style Navigation controller, the very solid, 2ft. long Sharp Shooter assault rifle shell, and TWO great first party FPS games from 2011: Killzone 3 and Resistance 3.

Stuffed with $200 worth of quality hardware and software for $150, the Best Buy exclusive PlayStation Move Mayhem Bundle is, without a doubt, our choice for best gift on the platform. ($150 at Best Buy)

PlayStation 3 Gift Card Suggestions: If they play online, go with PlayStation Network Card (dollars, not PlayStation Plus). If offline, get a GameStop gift card.

Nintendo Wii – Hardcore

In light of the explosive growth among a wide variety of audiences in the past several years, we felt it necessary to break Wii gamers down into a few subdivisions.

While not quite as abused as PS3 gamers, Hardcore Wii fans haven’t had a very merry 2011 either. Traditional games for the Wii have been few and far between. Nintendo had seen fit to withhold the already English translated version of Xenoblade Chronicles from U.S. shores despite fan outcry in the form of Operation Rainfall. Nintendo would recant months later, but that sure doesn’t help us for Christmas.

Fortunately, The Big N isn’t a total scrooge. Unfortunately, they aren’t exactly putting similes on everyone’s face either.

Our pick of presents for the Wii is the newly released The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Gold Remote bundle. The problem with this great bundle that packs in the latest Zelda game, a themed Wii Remote Plus, and a music CD is that it was a limited edition and is currently hard to find at retail. Originally selling for $70, these bundles can be found on eBay for a Buy It Now price ranging from $110 to $140.

With a Wii Remote Plus costing upwards of $40 (without the snazzy gold paint job) and the game going for $50, we found the price of this sold out collector’s edition to be reasonable and in line with the other gifts we chose.

Wii Hardcore Gift Card Suggestions: Nintendo’s online presence still leaves something to be desired. The only choice we would recommend is a GameStop gift card.

Nintendo Wii – Casual

Just Dance 3The Wii broke through in a huge way to a more casual player demographic with hits like the included Wii Sports and the mega selling Wii Fit. For the past several years however, it has been UbiSoft’s juggernaut Just Dance that has topped the charts.

There was never any doubt in our minds. Just Dance 3 is the title for the fun loving or exercise obsessed Wii gamer in your life. This year’s iteration brings not only as fresh batch of 45 new tunes featuring everyone from a-ha, to Daft Punk, to The Black Eyed Peas, but new game modes as well like Dance Crew mode to get everyone jiggy wit it. The Just Sweat More mode features an advanced cardio training program as well.

Best of all this is one of our cheaper picks on the list. With an MSRP of just $40 Just Dance 3 can frequently be picked up on sale for even less ($35 on Amazon)

Wii Casual Gift Card Suggestion: None. Don’t lock a fair weather gamer into a gaming gift. Go with something more general like a card from their favorite store. When in doubt, Amazon.com has nearly everything.

Nintendo Wii – Kids

51TFhrEmqWLNintendo has always been a market force to be reckoned with for the young. In command of a veritable army of adorable mascot characters, it is no wonder that Nintendo dominates the small fry’s dreams of Christmas morning. This year however, we passed by Donkey Kong, Kirby, and even the famous plumber brothers for an even bigger celebrity with a cool gadget.

The uDraw game tablet gives tykes the ability to turn their TVs into a computerized art studio. Even better, this uDraw Game Tablet Bundle comes with TWO pieces of software: The original uTablet Studio and SpongeBob Squigglepants. An alternate bundle is also available featuring the Disney Princesses, but we felt SpongBob had more universal appeal. And not affiliated with Disney.

Recommended price is $80, but we were able to find both the SpongeBob and Princess bundles online at Amazon and Walmart for just $60.

Wii Kids Gift Card Suggestions: None. Don’t give kids gift cards. They’re not fun to unwrap or play with.

Continue to Part 2 – Mobile Marauders

Skip to Part 3 - Computer Crusaders

Skip to Part 4 – Tabletop Traditionalists

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