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Black Friday! A day of retail armageddon and full contact-shopping … what could be better? And odds are you’ve got a gamer on your holiday gift list — because they’re everywhere now. Naturally, you don’t want to give them video games. They’ve got those already, and let’s face it, those things all the same, anyway. Better to surprise them with something they didn’t even know existed but always secretly wanted in their heart of hearts. Fortunately, I know what that is. Don’t ask how.
I also know someone will inevitably rope you into buying something for a total dork you despise with every fiber of your being. No worries. You can easily give the gift of sabotage.
So in the name of science, I’ve assembled a list of gift ideas guaranteed to delight your geekish friends and punish your nerdy enemies. That’s what the holidays are truly all about. (See here for other editions of our Alternative Holiday Gift Guide.)
The Nice List
Dark Horse Deluxe Normandy SR 2
Geeks love toys. Just accept this into your heart. This nicely sculpted tchotchke, based on the signature space cruiser from the Mass Effect role-playing game series, is just right at a 6-inch length. It comes in both its Cerberus and Systems Alliance (pictured) liveries, includes a stand, and makes a nice focal point for the entire room. Unfortunately, you’ve got to make your own engine and laser sounds.
$28.75 at Amazon
Portal Companion Cube cookie jar
Finally, an easily attainable product that combines our two favorite things: crunchy, delicious chocolate-chip cookies and unconditional, artificial love. You’re under no obligation to provide the former because you are, after all, a monster. But any true nerdcore human will find this ceramic jar, patterned on our dearly departed friend from Portal whom we did not savagely destroy for personal gain, a necessary and tasteful addition to their kitchen and/or bedroom. Even when they steal all its cookies and hate it for being empty. Because that’s what best friends do.
$29.99 at ThinkGeek
MOGA Mobile Gaming System for Android 2.3+
Have I seen a lot of cheap controller add-ons for smartphones and tablets? Yes. Yes, I have. The Moga, however, feels rock-solid and is ergonomic and smartly designed. Rubber grips, nice action in the buttons, and surprisingly stiff control nubs (perhaps a touch too stiff) single the Moga out, and a retractable arm grips your phone tightly indeed. You’ll have to pick and choose the games you get for it with care (Pac-Man and Sonic CD come free), and it’s only compatible with Android phones, but that just goes to show how good the Moga is. I want it to work with every game on every phone and tablet so I’m never without it again.
$44.99 at Amazon
Super Mario Wall stickers
The geek on your list probably already has these. But just in case, and since you’ll probably want them for yourself, I include them here. Vinyl, reusable, and in glorious 8-bit color, these decals can go up on any wall and come down again without peeling your landlord’s paint off. Easier than painting Koopa Troopas yourself, more legal than armed robbery, and nostalgic enough to bring tears to the strongest of us, these will go up in your friend’s home office before Christmas morning comes.
$68.11 at Amazon
Got kids? Get these. Sifteo Cubes might just be one of the more clever and versatile tech gifts around. The basic set includes three 2-inch square touchscreen cubes that you move, place, touch, and tilt to solve puzzles, cleverly disguised math and grammar problems, and even some light Metroidvania-style dungeons. How? You reveal the maze by moving the blocks around each other. Very neat. More cubes (sold separately) sync right in to add more complexity. It comes with nine games, and you can buy and download more for a few bucks each, and if you’re really lucky, your kids will let you play with them, too. But probably not. Rotten kids.
$129 at Amazon
But what perfect gifts could you bestow on your most hated enemy? We have a few ideas about that, too.