The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

A Guide to Video Game Gifting

Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer

CC2K's video game editor offers some last-minute thoughts on the best games to put under the tree.

ImageVideo games have held a hallowed spot under the Christmas tree for almost a quarter of a century.  And while children continue to awaken from dreams of dancing fruit ready to tear through colorful paper and scotch tape and shiny ribbons in the hope of finding the latest innovation from Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft, video games aren't presents just for the kids.  Oh no.  The kids who freaked out over the Nintendo Entertainment System or the Sega Genesis or the Sony Playstation are now older (and hopefully wiser), but no less interested in video games.  And with all the choices on the market today, why you could find a video game to stuff the stocking of just about anyone.  Here's a guide for the perfect video game solution to the hard-to-shop-for loved one in your life.

Big Ticket Items

For the Husband/Long-Term Boyfriend – Xbox 360

Ladies, nothing says love quite like a video game console.  Seriously.  Gamers are stereotypically men (or boys who grow up to be men who still are gamers), and we've become all too accustomed to rolled eyes and exasperated sighs from the women in our lives who can't begin to fathom this passion of ours.  You might not understand it, you may not approve of it, but by giving your man a game console, you're letting him know his crazed hobby is okay.  And if you're going to buy your man a game console, you can't go wrong with the Xbox 360.  In my opinion, the Playstation 3 is still in its infancy (or maybe toddler years), and even with its Blu-Ray disc player it still seems a little too risky of a purchase.  It's library of games is still woefully small, while the 360 has a huge library, stellar online support, not to mention its achievement system that has many gamers hooked.  As for the Nintendo Wii, we'll get to that in a moment.

For the Wife/Long-Term Girlfriend – Nintendo Wii

I have no idea why gamers are stereotypically male.  In fact, the stereotype doesn't even hold up to scrutiny as studies such as a survey by the Consumer Electronics Corporation found that "among game players between the ages of 25 and 34, women far outnumber men," and another study by the Entertainment Software Association found that "female gamers over the age of 18 make up 31 percent of all gamers, a larger percentage than that of male gamers under the age of 17 (20 percent), a group traditionally seen as the majority."  What does all this mean fellas?  It means that even if you don't think your female partner likes video games, it might just be that you're buying into a false stereotype because she doesn't like the same games as you.  The data seem to support the notion that women are more likely to favor casual games such as Bejeweled and online Scabble, while men are more likely to play the violent action games favored so much by most consoles.  So while your sweetie might scoff at your invitation to play some Halo 3 multiplayer guys, that doesn't mean she's anti-video games.  You've just got to get her in the mood.  And nothing gets the ladies in the mood for video games like the Nintendo Wii.  I don't know what it is exactly about the Wii that appeals so much to women, maybe the fact that many of its games are more "casual" in nature and more appealing to general audiences than games on other systems, but if you want to unleash your gal's inner gamer, the Wii is the way to go. And all this isn't to say that the Wii can't be enjoyed by the men and boys.  Far from it.  But how many other gifts are out there that you can enjoy as much as your wife/girlfriend that don't seem like a veiled attempt at giving her a gift that's really for you?  Far too few (I'm joking ladies, really). 

For the Workaholic  – Nintendo DS

Does your loved one have no time to sit at home on their keaster playing video games?  No problem!  The Nintendo DS is today's Gameboy, though more compact and with better graphics.  Add to this that it has a huge library of quality games, and your stressed-out over-achiever can unwind on their daily commute or during their coffee break.  The Nintendo DS is gaming on the go!

For the Health Nut – Wii Fit

I'm not really sure how it works, but basically the Wii Fit turns your entire body into a Wii remote.  With the "game" that is included with the peripheral you can do yoga, strength training, aerobics, and balance games.  This could be a great gift for the health-conscious person in your life who loves to exercise, or the sedentary person who sits on their ass all day playing video games, just don't be surprised if the latter isn't very happy about it.

For the Rocker – Guitar Hero: World Tour (360, PS3, Wii), Rock Band 2 (360, PS3, Wii)

Both games offer improvements over their respective predecessors, and either would be a great gift for a fan of the genre.  For the more casual rocker, Rock Band 2 may be the way to go with its great setlist and ever-increasing catalog of songs available for download.  For the more hardcore rocker, you might consider Guitar Hero: World Tour with its custom music creation software.  And both are great for parties!

Stocking Stuffers

For the Horrorphile – Dead Space (360, PS3, Win), Left 4 Dead (360, Win)

For the Jedi Wannabe – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (360, PS3, Wii)

For the Sports Nut – Madden NFL 09 (360, PS3, Wii), NHL 09 (360, PS3, Win), FIFA 09 (360, PS3, Wii), Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 (360, PS3, Wii), NBA 2K9 (360, PS3, Win), NCAA Football 09 (360, PS3, Wii)

The SciFi Junkie – Fallout 3 (360, PS3, Win), Gears of War 2 (360), Resistance 2 (PS3)

For the Ren Fest* Regular – Fable II (360), World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (Win), Prince of Persia (360, PS3, Win), Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS), Final Fantasy IV (DS)

For the Movie Geek – Scene It? Lights Camera Action (360), Scene It? Box Office Smash (360)

For the Military Buff – Call of Duty: World at War (360, PS3, Win, Wii), Tom Clancy's End War (360, PS3, Win), Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway (360, PS3, Win)

For the Speed Freak – Mario Kart Wii (Wii), Need For Speed: Undercover (360, PS3, Win, Wii), Baja: Edge of Control (360, PS3), GRID (DS)

For the Old Schooler – Little Big Planet (PS3), Braid (Xbox Live Download), N+ (DS)

Platform Key:

360 = Xbox 360
PS3 = Playstation 3
Win = Microsoft Windows (PC)
Wii = Nintendo Wii
DS = Nintendo DS

*Renaissance Festival – A public, commercial gathering that emulates a historic period for the amusement of its guests popular throughout the United States.