Appealing gifts for the gamer in your life
Warner Bros. Games
December 1st, 2011
07:25 PM ET

Appealing gifts for the gamer in your life

The important thing to keep in mind about gamers when you’re attempting to buy them holiday presents is this: They have freakish abilities. They can concentrate on one thing for hours on end. They have especially good hand-eye coordination. They can immerse themselves in the rules of improbable universes and can master environments quickly. Buying presents for a gamer is sort of like buying a present for some kind of government special agent.

But don’t worry. The Geek Out! team has reduced the gaming landscape to some essential qualities, so shoppers can target their prize as easily as a first-person-shooter champion.

The superhero-loving adventurer/strategist
The combination of high-flying combat maneuvers and the iconic scenery of Gotham City is a must for any superhero gaming fan. The thrill that comes from diving off a building gargoyle into a group of thugs, twisting and turning in hand to hand combat, and defeating them all with precision and technique is something to experience. And, of course, listening to the lunatic rantings of the Joker, voiced by Mark Hamill, will excite your Batman-in-training.

"Batman: Arkham City" takes everything that was great about the first Arkham title and makes it bigger, bolder and better. The Dark Knight goes up against his most murderous foes with new weapons and allies in a story that expands the Batman universe.

Add in gameplay with Catwoman and Robin (DLC) and a gaming environment that is five times larger than “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and action-adventure gamers will have hours of enjoyment.

More games that offer an open environment with exciting hand-to-hand combat and a bit of strategy: “Assassin’s Creed Revelations,” “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” and “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”

If tossing virtual batarangs wasn’t awesome enough, Power A released a Batarang controller for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 that make playing any game that much cooler. The controllers are gray and black, but they contain lights that illuminate when playing to give a soothing or menacing glow. The PS3 version is wireless and the Xbox 360 version uses a 10-foot USB cable. They also feel very comfortable in the hand for long play times.

The humorist gamer with a knack for solving problems
If the gamer in your life ever wanted to go on adventures like Indiana Jones, “Uncharted 3” is about the closest they’ll come without using a whip. The environments are epic with entire areas (hanging from a plane or escaping a sinking ship) that move while you are trying to move.

It does feel like a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” movie and, with dialogue that is funny and sharp, it will have you smirking and laughing. Gamers who like the idea of exploration and exposition will love this. Success is often more about the interactions between characters than how many people get killed.

There are also historical treasures and references throughout the game. And, this is likely the last we’ll see of Nathan Drake, the swashbuckling, scoundrel, treasure-hunter, so time to catch the big finale.

Other games with witty dialogue and over-the-top fun while playing include “Saints Row: The Third,” “Bastion” and “Portal 2.”

Role playing tabletop games
Role playing tabletop games are the kind of games that appeal to gamers who have very active imaginations. To play this kind of game well, someone needs to be able to predict and tell complicated stories. Imagining how each player's move impacts the rest of the game is key to role playing games (also known as RPG). Someone who likely appreciates this kind of game probably also likes "Lord of the Rings," they probably already play "Dungeons & Dragons" and have a home library full of fantasy novels.

If the stunning array of RPG products on the market are too difficult to narrow down to one gift - or if you're afraid of buying an RPG gamer something they already have - try a fantasy game that takes place in a similar universe. Something like the "Pathfinder Beginners Box" from Paizo allows gamers to play as courageous fighters who master weapons and armor, wise clerics who call upon the power of the gods to heal your allies and burn enemies with sacred fire, witty rogues able to disarm traps and strike with deadly accuracy or brilliant wizards whose magical powers bring foes to their knees. You know, something your favorite gamer is already used to.

Pathfinder's beginner box is packed with everything a gamer needs to get started on a game with one or more friends. Scores of monsters, challenges and advice give gamers the tools to create their own worlds and adventure, providing countless hours of gaming excitement.

With streamlined rules and a focus on action-packed heroic adventure, this deluxe boxed set is the ideal introduction to the world of the Pathfinder role playing game.

The silly gamer
The sense of adventure and whimsy that challenges players to come up with creative solutions while at the same time remaining humorous because they're playing with LEGOs has been a hallmark of the LEGO version video games. The added ability for others to drop into the game and drop out at will encourages family and friends to join in the action and helped make these games immensely popular.

This holiday season, the boy wizard is all grown up and still blocky as the game “LEGO Harry Potter – Years 5-7” chronicles the adventures of Harry Potter as told in the last three books and four feature films.

Gamers who enjoy familiar characters, cartoon-like environments and a slower gameplay experience will have a blast running around Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and the Ministry of Magic. It all culminates in the final face-off against Lord Voldemort (in LEGO style, of course).

Other video games that challenge your creativity and tickle your funny bone include “Little Big Planet 2,” “Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One” and “LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.”

The remember-the-good-times gamer
"Memory Lane" is where this gamer has set up his/her console and where they have the most enjoyment.The sense of classic characters doing the things gamers have always loved that draws people to games such as “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.”

Link returns to save Zelda (and the day) again in this game, which has delighted gamers with many previous adventures. The same fun elements and characters of the Legend of Zelda franchise will have gamers grinning in reminiscence.

This time, combat within the game is made fresh by using the Nintendo Wii RemotePlus controller, which will have gamers hacking enemies down in no time.

Nostalgic gamers generally aren’t looking for something completely new to play, but they'll enjoy taking Link on a new adventure and exploring his world and history more fully.

Other games sure to tug on your gamer’s sense of nostalgia: “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D,” “NBA 2K12” and “HALO: Combat Evolved.”

Wargaming on tabletop with miniatures
Strategy, tactics and imagination are the best weapons in a gamer's arsenal when it comes to war games. If you've ever heard the gamer you're trying to buy a present for talk about how well they play the game "Risk" or "Axis & Allies," then chances are they like to play war games. Tabletop war games, especially ones that incorporate the use of miniature statues, are games that appeal to those who are analytically minded.

There's a certain amount of math that's involved in these games. Players calculate firing radii, missile trajectories, whether or not their shots could clear buildings within the game all while keeping in mind the distances their figures are able to move during a turn. But just as important to these games is the setting story.

One game available this holiday season with an appealing, Steampunk-influenced story is the "Warmachine Two-Player Box Set" from Privateer press. It's a fast-paced and aggressive 30 mm tabletop miniatures battle game set in the steam-powered fantasy world of the Iron Kingdoms. In the game, elite soldier-sorcerers called  Warcasters wield mighty Warjacks, which are massive steam-powered combat automatons. The point of the game's battle is to destroy the enemy Warcaster.

The "Warmachine Two Player Box Set" contains everything two players need to start a game, including dice, a ruler, 17 figurines that come with explanatory "stat" cards, a game board, a rules book and an introductory guide .

The online competitor
What gamer wouldn't want to have Force powers, whether for the Jedi or the Sith? “Star Wars: The Old Republic” is the new massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) that lets players act out their Star Wars dreams in a vast online environment. And the subset of gamers devoted to MMORPG can't stop talking about it.

This game is also going to be a hit with all fans of "Star Wars," whether Han shot first or Greedo shot first. This type of game allows gamers to play the game online and either cooperate with or dominate the other players. Competitive fires are sure to be stoked in the rush for higher levels, more skills and powers and more in-game prestige.

The game is due to hit shelves on December 20, so avoid the rush and pre-order for the Sith Lord or Jedi Master on your holiday shopping list.

“Rift” is another MMORPG that would please your online gamer, as would multiplayer shooter action games such as “Gears of War 3,” “Battlefield 3” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3."

Board games
There's an entire subgroup of gamers who are really into board games. On forums such as BoardGameGeek, they discuss the virtues of every category and franchise of board game imaginable, and this year they've been giving glowing reviews to the "Walking Dead Board Game" from Cryptozoic Entertainment.

Aside from the gameplay itself, this board game is a great gift for a gamer because it includes so many different kinds of geeky fans. Does your gamer like horror, comic books, the TV show "The Walking Dead" and/or board games? A franchise like "Walking Dead" allows a lot of different kinds of people to join in the fun, which is an essential part of a board game.

Board games are social experiences, and "Walking Dead" offers players two different kinds: Everyone involved can work together to avoid the zombies infesting Atlanta, Georgia, or players can choose an every-(alive) man-for-himself mode where only the strong survive and the losers become zombies. Players can spring surprise attacks on the living, cause the zombies to frenzy or contaminate the survivors' supplies.

Maybe zombies aren't your gamer's thing? Look for something such as the "Battlestar Galactica Board Game." It's a few years old, but board gamers sing its praises, and it's another franchise that has inspired a devout fandom.

RPG supplements/accessories
Gamers who play "Dungeons & Dragons" know this much: Of all the monsters in the world, dragons are the most feared. A fledgling group of adventurers might have what it takes to best a weak dragon, but the most powerful dragons are awesome, devastating creatures that rival even the gods. Even though they are formidable foes, D&D players have a soft spot in their hearts for dragons, so any related gift is sure to please.

Inside the limited-edition "Dragon Collector's Set" are miniature sculptures of the five most iconic evil dragons in the "Dungeons & Dragons" game. This is also D&D parent company Wizards of the Coast's only set available this year to immortalize creatures from D&D. Last year, they released a set of Beholders, (monsters who live in dungeons and destroy things with their eyes), which while interesting and cool do not have the same appeal as dragons.

(Photo credits: "Zelda:" Nintendo; "Arkham City:" Warner Bros. Games)

soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Darcy Mamaclay

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    August 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
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    January 31, 2012 at 12:42 am |
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    January 5, 2012 at 1:31 am |
  4. Pliny

    Wargaming on tabletop with miniatures is not for everyone.

    Before you commit to buying into this....goto a local game-store and watch them play a game.

    There are all sorts of miniatures available (they are called 'figures', not 'statues' as the article states).

    You don't have to be 'analytically minded', nor do you have to be 'good at math' (who wrote this article???).
    You've just got to have common sense, and good luck (as anyone returning from Afghanistan).

    You don't just 'open the box and play the game'. They often require assembly and painting. And you'll also need to have 'terrain' to fight on (a town, a valley, an ocean), depending on the nature of the game.

    Miniatures can be 'fantasy'....or they can be 'historical'. So, you can fight goblins....or American Civil War battles.
    If you want to be a 'space marine' on an Alien 'bug hunt'....someone makes figures for that.
    If you want to be Alexandar crushing the Persians....someone makes figures for that too!

    But please, don't spend money unless you know what you are getting into. Instead...go out and find people who play these games. They'll be happy to invite you into their world of miniature geekdom.

    December 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  5. Texan

    I got Mario Kart 7 as an early Christmas gift, as well as Star Fox 64 3D.😀 Love em both :))

    December 22, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  6. SCDad

    I'm still looking to collect all of the Heroscape figures I never got around to buying before WOTC took over the brand. I can't believe Wizard's messed up that game so badly.

    December 8, 2011 at 5:55 am |
  7. Jon

    I'd hate to be a nitpicker, but I don't think Naughty Dog ever intended for Uncharted to only be a trilogy, or for UC3 to be the final game in the series. IIRC, they said they would keep making Uncharted games as long they could keep coming up with interesting ideas and stories to tell about Drake. If anyone's actually played the game, you find out that

    ***SPOILERS***

    Nathan Drake is not actually his real name!

    ***SPOILERS***

    December 7, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  8. T3chsupport

    Weighted companion cube. ♥

    December 3, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  9. Alex

    Wow the boardgame information in this article is so wrong. Please if you have someone who loves boardgames in your family DO NOT buy the walking dead boardgame. Instead direct them to get 7 Wonders for 2011. It was the Spiel Des Jahres Kennerspiel game of the year or Qwirkle the Spiel Des Jahres winner for 2011. Both of those have huge followings and are great for both those new to boardgames or those that play boardgames a lot.

    December 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Alex

      Oh and here is the link to 7 wonders. It's won a ton of awards this year. It plays well for 2 to 8 players. I recommend though playing with 3 or more. http://www.rprod.com/en/7WONDERS.html

      December 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Jacko

      I have to agree on Seven Wonders. I played that last month at a convention and immediately bought it from the convention gaming store. It's quick and involved at the same time. A typical game will take 30-45 minutes and is very satisfying. There's a lot of strategy involved, as well.

      December 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
      • Pliny

        Jacko,

        I agree about 'a lot of strategy involved' in 7 Wonders. But a newbie can still play and enjoy and win the game on the same day that they open the box. The more they play the game, they more they will develope their own sense of 'strategy'.

        December 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • A.J.

      Spiel Des Jahres is an award for European-style games and are certainly not for everybody. I find them generally boring and too often multi-player solitaire adventures with weak theme and no chance.

      I am surprised that they would promote Walking Dead. It has extremely LITTLE buzz on Boardgame Geek, and the comments are generally negative. It sounds like the author of the article has a personal vested interest in the success of this game, hence a promotion.

      I could understand promoting Battlestar Galactica, Twilight Struggle, and even 7 wonders (boring though it is), but some unknown game with little positive buzz? That makes no sense.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • Maya

      I have this game and love it. My friends love it and we play it every Sunday before the show. All games are diffrent and so are the people that play them. I don't undrstand why your such a hater!? I want to tell everyone if you like fun games that you will not spend 2 hrs learning to play, go get The Walking Dead🙂

      December 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Pliny

      Yes! 7 Wonders is a very playable game. You really need 4 players to do it justice. 1/2 hour per game.

      Carcassone is still a very good 2-player game. You might squeeze in a 3rd or 4th player. 1/2 hour per game. This game can be enjoyed by kids and adults. The game mechanics are as simple as it gets.

      Dominion (get the original set...buy the expansion sets later) is a good card game. 2-4 players. less then 1/2 hour per game. I've seen 8 year-olds play this game well.

      Alex mentioned "Spiel Des Jahres". It's a 'game of the year' award. You'll find many GREAT games on the list of nominees. Good call Alex.

      Stay away from historical board-games that have large maps and hundereds of carboard counters. Even if you are a die-hard WW2 enthusiast, these games are not for beginners.

      See if there is a 'game' store near you. You can find plenty of players there. They probably meet there to play. Buy your game there and support a small-business.

      December 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  10. Adam

    One word, Skyrim.

    December 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Laura

      Agreed.

      December 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
      • Yambdr

        WilliamSilverfulHero scape... Pretty aeoswme! Although... if you have some time and haven't had the chance before... try Dungeons And Dragons!

        February 1, 2012 at 5:51 am |
      • lqnsvgj

        42Hp8C nkqhlrzoyixp

        February 4, 2012 at 4:58 am |
    • Uncle Dutch

      "Cause them dragons ain't gonna kill themselves, now are they?

      Me? MW3...F1 2011...Uncharted 3...

      December 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  11. Tea Party Express

    I have a sister-in-law that is a liberal PETA leaf eating tart. So I bought her 4 and 6 year old kids Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012.

    My brother in law gave me a thumbs up and can't wait to play it with the kiddos.

    December 2, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Greg

      Passive aggressive is always the way to go at the holidays.

      December 2, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • situationalawareness

      There's always that one person...

      December 4, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Bob

      You bought a gift for the children of your Sister-In-Law, and your Brother-In-Law can't wait to play it with them.

      (Inbred joke deleted by CNN.com)

      December 4, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  12. Dolt Patrol

    Everyone should disregard this article. It's not easy buying the right game. Best advice? Try TALKING to your gamer friend/family member and ASK them what they want! Poor communication is the reason bad gifts keep on gifting. It IS the thought that counts, but if you're trying hard to please someone, just ask them.

    December 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • SilentBoy741

      I absolutely agree. There is no one list of titles that would please every gamer. We all like vastly different games, for vastly different reasons, and no two gamers will come up with the same list of great games, even within the same genre. And NEVER give a game that requires a monthly subscription to play. If your gift choice misfires, then you've not only wasted your own money, but your gift recipient's too.

      Instead, find out if your recipient has a Wish List on Steam or something, then pick up one of those, or gift some titles from there. If it's on their Wish List, you can't go wrong.

      December 2, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
      • Lukas

        awesome game! never played the amiga voseirn but after the glowing review on toucharcade, I figured this was a must buy and it is!however, I would say that the d-pad is singularly bad for touch devices. lack of tactile feedback makes it next to impossible. any chance of an analog stick like controller instead? the stick in death rally is close to perfect or as perfect as possible in a touch device. also, the tilt control doesn't translate well to this game because of the fixed rate of movement. there seems to be a disconnect between intent and effect. the touch control is great and is TRULY GENIUS in the way it's implemented so that you can change the offset between finger and ship. alas, I keep blocking my iPhone view.anyway, great game. rock on. jin

        March 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Laura

      My husband and I are both games, and while we do give games as presents to each other, everyone else tends to give us gift cards to game stores as they never know what we have already or would like. I only get my friends/family games if I know they don't have it and I know they would want it.

      December 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  13. Karapeters

    I'd prefer a gift certif to Gamestop so I can choose the game I like. Chances are that your extended family may not even know whether you're a console or PC gamer.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  14. Yey

    The correct advice would be to not bother trying to buy a gamer a game. Chances are the gamer has the game or won't like what you get. Just get the gamer something non-game related.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Finn

      Sound advice. As a hardcore gamer, nothing is more uncomfortable than receiving a gift from someone who didn't know that a) I already have the game, or b) I did the research and previously decided I don't want the game, or c) know little or nothing about the game because it's outside my field of interest and couldn't care less about it. Put more broadly, a non-expert in any field is ill-advised to surprise an expert in that field with an unexpected gift. You're better off giving them a subscription you know they don't have to a game-themed magazine or something.

      December 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Lisa

      Agree!

      December 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Big Al

      100% right. You beat me to it.

      December 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • SofaLofa

      Good advice. If you MUST get a gamer a game, ask him/her to list the 3 games they would like then buy the third game (chances are, someone else is gonna beat ya to the other 2).

      December 5, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  15. rich

    And how long do we wait before people start flipping out on role playing games being recommended?

    December 2, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  16. Fisburne2192

    Wow, I'm surprised that the Elder Scrolls Skyrim didn't make this list. Fantastic game. Star Wars MMO is cool having tried beta, but MMOs are such the time sink.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Captain Obvious

      Um, aren't all games by definition a Time Sink?

      Otherwise they would be called something else, like work or class.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:36 am |
      • ChineseGoldFarmer

        Not if you're gold farming and making mad $$$.

        December 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
      • Fisburne2192

        Not quite as bad. MMOs are notoriously worse as there is no ending and you can't just save and quit in the middle of something.

        December 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  17. Sampsonite

    today was but with bridge to another county and then some.
    i can't happen but to with and my house on hill side
    they came and house you told friends
    but righful compare to rough side of train tracks downtown
    came upon to the with castle clouds

    told me number seventeen gilded lantern to bear
    happen with the right side ground effect
    tough sometimes year ten fold five
    soothing calm and he with but there was house

    finally, see water and animal to end
    high up rightful year to be her best thing
    plow, harvest, sow – such is way of thing
    another time ground land

    December 2, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • IPFreely

      Cool story bro.

      December 4, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  18. sterling145

    I own most of the items on this list. I highly recommend Pathfinder, Warmachine, and the new Zelda. I am greatly looking forward to the Star Wars MMO.

    December 2, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • SofaLofa

      Nerd alert.

      December 5, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  19. getgirltolike

    Kids usually like games and all so it could be a perfect gift for them so i would say that games could also be a good gift for children .They are fond of playing specially fight and racing games

    December 2, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • SofaLofa

      Yes I especially think the new Battlefield 3 game would be perfect for my 7 year old neice, since .. ya know .. all kids are fond of playing fight games.

      December 5, 2011 at 12:30 am |