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 3rd part of our 2011 Gifts for Every Gamer Guide, we peek into the basement of the science building in search of the most secretive, the most insular, the most hi-tech and haughty gamers of them all: PC gamers. And there are many, many more flavors of PC gamers then your ever dreamed of.
This is the guy we all think of whenever someone talks about PC gaming: The hobbyist. The one who builds his own system from a confusing pile of circuit boards and wire. The one sitting in the dark illuminated only by the glow of a half dozen LCD screen. The one who needs:
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Collector’s Edition.
This giant box of gaming goodness not only contains hundreds of hours of quality, free-form RPG goodness but a ton of fanservice-y goodies like a 12 inch tall statue of the dragon Alduin The World Eater, a gaint 200 page 9.5”x12” coffee table book showcasing the art of the game, and a making of DVD documentary. While $150 may seem like a lot of money for a single game (even with the included goodies), this is a world where 10 hours worth of gameplay costs $60. Skyrim can be played for, quite literally, hundreds of hours.
The Skyrim Collectors Edition can be found at most places (Amazon appears to be sold out of the PC version) for $150. Just make sure to get the “Games for Windows” version as this title is also available for consoles and that hardcore PC gamer in your life would never let you hear the end of such a n00b mistake. ($150 at Best Buy)
Hardcore PC Gamer Gift Card Suggestion: This is the type of loved one who knows exactly what they want and will bore you to tears explaining every little detail of it. Save yourself the lecture and just go with a place that has everything. Go with the Amazon.com gift card.
Note that we do not have a section for Hardcore Mac gamers. We feel that this is something of a misnomer as modern Mac systems can be reconfigured to dual boot to a Windows OS. It is highly unlikely that a gamer in search of the latest and greatest will be using a pure Mac OS as their primary game platform. Also note, all of our other PC categories DO consider the Mac.
It happens to the best of us. One day we’re on top of the world; The next, face down in the gutter. Due to falling behind the upgrade curve or struck down by a random hardware failure, the former hardcore PC gamer is a sad sack down on their luck. A once mighty king of a custom rig, they’re now sullenly surfing on a netbook, pinching pennies to get back on top again. Boy, do we have a surprise for them (as long as they still have access to the Internet)!
As GUO’s chief engineer ryte2byte previously demonstrated, OnLive is a cloud based video game service that can deliver top quality PC games to just about any ol’ piece of junk you can connect to the ‘Net. Even Macs. In plain English, it is NetFlix for PC games. Just in time for the holidays, OnLive has unveiled their new gifting system. Now you can send your loved one the ability to play nearly 130 games on their tide-me-over crapbook with the OnLive PlayPack subscription in your choice of 1, 3, 6, or 12 months. Even better, a PlayPack subscription gives your lucky recipient a substantial 30% off any other title they may purchase or rent thru OnLive!
We would recommend either the 6 month PlayPack subscription for $53 or 1 year for $100. Get it direct from Online.
Former Hardcore PC Gamer Gift Card Suggestion: Again, PC gamers tend to be picky and boring. Go with the Amazon.com gift card.
A contradiction wrapped in an enigma, the MMO (massively multi-player online) gamer may appear as just another hardcore PC player. Same glowing system, same piles of snacks and caffeinated beverages, same bewildering list of abbreviations thrown into casual conversation. They are, in fact, very different. Sequestered alone in their wired thrones, they spend their time doing the unthinkable: Interacting with other people. These are the D&D nerds of the 21st century!
With their heads crammed full of a bewildering array of statistics, character builds, and patch levels not just for themselves, but for their entire guild, the MMO gamer in a human supercomputer constantly pressed to act up reams of data in real time. Surely there must be a gadget to help give them an edge?
There is. The Logitech G13 Programmable Gameboard with LCD Display. Not only does this secondary keyboard feature a thumbstick with two buttons and 25 programmable, macro capable keys, but an LCD display for tracking all that data The G13 even features customizable backlighting and onboard memory for storing 5 different profiles. It’s even Mac compatible! This little beauty is ready to go out of the box with World of Warcraft too. With this gadget, your favorite online RPG gamer practically gains an extra hand.
While the MSRP for the Logitech G13 is $80, we were able to track these down for $55 on Amazon.com.
Online Role-Playing gift card suggestion: World of Warcraft subscriptions are out this year. There was a deal to get a free copy of Diablo III when signing up for an annual commitment, so most WoW player are gonna be set up already. Blizzard’s online store doesn’t have gift cards. We suggest the Amazon.com gift card as a default. They can even buy time on their favorite games there.
Over one million people played the top THREE Facebook games last month. More than fodder for horrific child abuse stories, Facebook gamers have become a very large part of the PC gaming family since the launch of the astoundingly popular Farmville. The addition of The Sims to Zuckerberg’s social platform has only cemented its popularity as a go-to gaming center.
But what to get to get your favorite virtual farmer? Their system needs are easily met, they don’t require fancy peripherals, and their games are free, right? Wrong.
Facebook games run on two things: Friends and small payments dubbed micro-transactions. Usually the two are interchangeable.The very best gift you can give to a Facebook gamer is a little bit of yourself and “play” with them. This is a far easier commitment than it seems.
Most Facebook gamers tend to only play between one and three games at a given time. While you can go all out and click on every piece of spam generated by these games, there will typically only be one or two important messages a day: The gift requests. These gift requests send important resources needed for your Facebook gamer to progress. They are easily satisfied by clicking a single button. That’s it. You don’t even need to play. One or two minutes a day is all it takes to keep a Facebook gamer happy. Maybe you should offer.
We found friendship to be available in most gift giver’s hearts and it is priceless.
Facebook gift card suggestions: Okay, so you need to indulge in a little materialism as well. We understand. ‘Tis the season. Fortunately, Facebook has gone a long way towards unifying the micro-transaction nature of its games. Facebook credits are now accepted by nearly all major titles. We found Facebook gift cards available through WalMart.
From solitaire and Yahtzee, to Bejeweled and seek-n-finds, the casual gamer has dominated the cash cow seeking sights of even major hardcore game publishers for several years now. Playing simple games on minimal hardware, even ravenous casual gamers bristle at the thought of being considered a gamer at all.
What do you get a gamer who loves match-3s and room escapes? NOTHING. Don’t even try! The very best you can hope for with casuals is for your gift to be thrown in a corner and forgotten. They typically found gaming on their own and will continue to do so. Don’t suggest, don’t encourage, and, for the love of all that is holly, don’t sit down and try to show them anything. Doing so will only get you an ear full of frustration and anger. Fiercely independent and, perhaps, just a little ashamed of their hobby, causal gamers cannot be shopped for without an explicit, unsolicited request. If they need you, they will come to you. The casual gamer is a delicate flower pumped full of nitroglycerine and should not be touched. Pick another type of gift.
Casual gift card suggestions: Again, go another route. If you are feeling headstrong/foolish enough, hook’ em up with an Amazon.com gift card and point them towards the the casual game section. Just don’t suggest a specific title. Seriously.
Catch up on Part 1 – Console Commandos
Catch up on Part 2 – Mobile Marauders
Continue to Part 4 – Tabletop Traditionalists