** This article appears in the November issue of PLAYED, our monthly gaming newsletter. Download the entire issue here. **
If the gamers on your holiday shopping list are anything like us, chances are they’ve already bought every “most wanted” title on their lists (including Criterion’s Need For Speed Most Wanted). But that doesn’t mean you need to resort to the giving of traditional gifts like socks, sweaters, or fruit cake. Thankfully for you (and your gamer) we’ve put together our annual gift guide for the gaming-inclined with ideas picked straight from our own 2012 holiday wishlists.
With the season’s hottest titles already in hand, why not lend your recipient an assist with conquering those new releases? The crew at KontrolFreek have a whole line of simple, legal, gamer-approved controller add-ons designed to improve the skills of even the most-seasoned player. We’re big fans of the FPS Freek CQC pads for upping our online fragging at a nice price. Further down the intensity spectrum finds the Avenger Elite Controller from Kotkin Enterprises. Originally designed for physically-disabled gamers, and well-known for the Ocean Marketing PR fiasco, the Avenger has earned praise from press and core players alike for improving precision and reaction time across gaming’s most competitive FPS (first-person shooter) titles. Sounds like a stocking stuffer full of awesome.
Speaking of FPS, Hasbro makes a return to our wishlists this year in big way. Just as our obsession with modding NERF N-Strike guns for office warfare was subsiding, Hasbro announced LAZER TAG. Combining augmented reality with plastic toy guns and iOS, this modernized throwback will have us fielding “research” meetings well into the New Year.
But augmented reality isn’t just for office battles – AR will also make its debut on the slopes this winter thanks to the Oakley Airwave Goggles. With elements reminiscent of Nike+ Training and Google Maps combined with messaging and music control, you’ll be able to extend your Quantified Self to the mountain ranges while trash-talking friends against the sounds of the Halo 4 Soundtrack.
Relaxing with a gaming classic or two might be the best way to unwind after a day of first-person AR battles and carving fresh powder. Everyone on your list has probably played Words With Friends, but have they played Words With Friends the board game? So, what was once a digital copy of the analog Scrabble is now an analog copy of that digital copy? They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we’ll probably just stick to the original – especially when it’s cased in this cool book for your shelf. If word games aren’t high on the wishlist, there’s always real estate management and the community chest, or the ultimate in retro gaming with The Ultimate Book of Card Games (we’re still trying to figure out Euchre).
With mobile gamers taking over, we’re willing to bet there are more than a few on your list this year. Regardless of platform, no gamer wants the fun to end early, especially at the cost of refreshing her News Feed or adding a filter to her latest sneaker find, making the Eton BoostTurbine 2000 an easy recommendation for keeping the good times going. Unlike other external backup batteries, the 2000 also includes a hand crank for generating a few more minutes of power when that last Punch Quest quest eludes you and a power outlet. Frozen fingers are another hurdle to mobile gaming enjoyment this time of year, especially for our Denuo crew in Chicago. Luckily, between Athleta’s Pilayo gloves and UGG Australia’s Smart Tech Gloves and Earmuffs our fingers are warm and touch-screen friendly and our ears are enjoying the epic sounds of Trent Reznor and Jack Wall’s Call of Duty Black Ops II soundtrack. If sharing those tunes with your bus-waiting friends is on your list, a three-way music splitter might be the perfect stocking stuffer.
There’s no shortage of racing games on our mobile devices (check out CSR Racing for one of our favorites), but why race a virtual Ferrari when you can race a real one? Or a real toy one, at least. The Siverlit Ferrari Enzo uses your iPhone or iPad as the remote control for real, virtual racing action. Or take your mobile device to the skies with Griffin’s Helo Touch-Controlled RC Assault Helicopter and setup and record “Flight Plans” for a holiday present or dessert tray reconnaissance.
If all else fails, you could always just get that gamer on your list a Makerbot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer and let him make his own holiday gifts for years to come!