There’s almost no point in calling the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday” anymore. As the years have rolled on, the biggest shopping day of the year has engulfed the holiday while greedily absorbing the rest of the month.
That leaves even less time for you to prepare a suitable, special holiday gift for your video game-loving friends and family, so we’re here to help. If you don’t want to just settle on random video games or gift certificates this year, we’ve got some useful, stylish gaming-related items for everyone on your “Nice” list.
But what if December is your month of sweet, sweet revenge? We’ve got that covered too, with some especially annoying “gifts” for the gamers on your “Naughty” list. We’re sure they’ve had it coming all year. (See here for past editions of our Alternative Holiday Gift Guide.)
The Nice List
DICE+ Universal Board Game Controller
Like it or not, tablets are the gaming device of the future, and chances are good that anyone on your list will have one of those before a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. If your friends or family do most of their gaming on mobile devices, DICE+ is a gift that’ll put them one step forward into the future. Using Bluetooth connectivity, it works as a companion for several iOS and Android games, all of which are listed at the DICE+ website. With your tablet as the game board, the digital die interacts with apps to track turns, award points, and generally move the gameplay along, giving you a cool physical accessory outside the touchscreen.
$40 at DICE+
Borderlands Gentlemen Claptrap Figure
Robots are great decorations for any room, but this Borderlands figure raises the bar with its tuxedo-pattern paint job and top hat. Just look at it! It’s so dapper! And it’s got a monocle! If anything, it’ll definitely add a touch of class to any place’s decor.
Gunnar Gaming Eyewear
Most of our parents were actually right about staring at the TV set. It’s really bad for your eyes, and long gaming stints aren’t much better for your vision. Gunnar Optiks has a good solution for that with lenses that use a protective anti-glare lens coating to shield your eyeballs from harsh monitor glare. It’s good for console gaming or just a simply day in the sunlight, and Gunnar even does prescription deals.
$47.40—$100 at Gunnar
This gift is for the Call of Duty, Halo, or Battlefield fan in your life, especially if they’re competitive players. In certain first-person shooter games, a targeting laser can easily give away your position, which is why many people put a targeting spot on their displays with pen marks or tape. HipShot Dot, a USB-powered suction cup laser sight, is the far better solution, and most importantly, it won’t leave marks on a TV screen.
$30 at AirDrop Gaming
Getting a solid sound system is great for gaming feedback, but this device has the smart idea of physically hitting your body with that same audio. The “Woojer”—currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign—serves that purpose as a wearable subwoofer, and it works with everything from a PlayStation Vita to a smartphone. It’s better than a heavy, speaker-laden gaming chair, and it’s also way cheaper.
$59—$150 via Kickstarter
Minimalist Video Game Art Prints
At a certain point in our lives, video game posters aren’t exactly the most high-brow thing to be hanging on our homes’ walls. But the minimalist artwork of Atlanta-based gamer Emily Lemay should arguably fit just about any living room, and she also does comics-based prints to boot. She has plenty of selections, like Mass Effect, Half-Life, and Zelda, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a fit for even your pickiest friends.
$15—$50 each via Emily Lemay
Portal 2 Sentry USB
Everyone needs extra storage, and USB sticks are usually the way for go for most people. But if you’ve got someone who’s always losing their data or sorting through boring, identical flash drives, the Portal 2 Sentry USB should fix both those problems. It even moves and talks just like its video game counterpart (yes, you can turn it off), so it’s got a double benefit—you can give it to a Portal fan, or you can try to make a new Portal fan.
$40 at ThinkGeek
KontrolFreek FPS Freek Phantom
Good analog stick control is an underrated part of any competitive online shooter, and the FPS Freek Phantom is smart way to improve someone’s angles in a shootout. It’s even a good pick for fighting game fans lacking a proper arcade-style fight stick controller, making precise motion inputs a bit easier to pull off. Next-gen gamers are also covered here; KontrolFreek’s got thumbsticks for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers, with pre-orders shipping next week.
$14—$20 at KontrolFreek
Tiny Plane Game Controller
More and more small children have their faces anchored into tablet and smartphone screens, but theses aren’t real substitutes for a real toy. But you can get a mix of both with ZowPow Toys, this year’s winner from the GamesBeat 2013 “Who’s Got Game Innovation Showdown” finalists.
ZowPow’s concept uses plush toys as motion controllers, paired with mobile games that enable kids to move characters in real time along with the gameplay. If a little gamer on your “nice” list uses a recent-model iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or iPad Mini, you can match the Tiny Plane toy with Tiny Plane on iOS. Don’t wait too long, though—there’s a limited run available for delivery.
As a side note, you can also preorder the Redford Game Controller, which should be shipping out in a few months. It’ll be compatible with Mega Run and Mega Jump on iOS at launch, also in limited quantities.
$25 at ZowPow Toys
But what perfect gifts could you bestow on your most hated enemy? We have a few ideas about that, too.
The Naughty List
Tetris Animated Alarm Clock
At first glance, a Tetris alarm clock sounds like a fun, quirky idea, but your “friend” will grow to hate this thing. Granted, no one really loves something that jolts them awake in the morning, but this clock will eventually start throwing off someone’s entire day. It’s easily damaged and reportedly loses 30 seconds every few days on average, and the Tetris gimmick makes it practically impossible to tell the time with a quick glance.
Hyperkin Pixel Art USB Classic Gaming Controller
One of the core necessities to good gaming is a comfortable controller, but this number from Hyperkin is as bad as it gets. That blocky design makes it awkward to hold. It looks absolutely ridiculous, and the button layout makes it impractical for most modern PC games. This controller’s more trouble than it’s worth, which makes it perfect for someone you really don’t like.
(Image via Little Popos)
The new Pokémon is once again one of the biggest video games of the year, but even the most diehard fan wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one of these. Unless they have no shame, of course. And even if that’s the case, most people will still make fun of anyone over the age of 13 wearing these in public. Unless they’re a cosplayer or something. In that case, this may actually backfire spectacularly.
$4—$100 via Etsy
Video Game Soaps
Buying someone soap says two things: 1) “I didn’t really bother thinking of anything to buy you. 2) “You stink.” Video game soap can work for both statements, especially if you buy someone a soap based on a title they don’t even like. Double hatred points!
$5—$78 via Etsy
Assassin’s Creed IV Blade
(Image via McFarlane Toys)
We’ve tested these arm-mounted blades in a variety of situations, and these plastic things will usually break at the slightest hint of pressure. A hardcore Assassin’s Creed fan will be pretty miserable when that happens, but even if this stays intact, chances are that the spring mechanism will break. Either way, it’s eventually going to be a paperweight, and that’s a subtle victory for you in the end.
$40 at GameStop
World of Warcraft Panda Zip-up Hoodie
At the worst, people will think your friend or family member is a furry. At best, people will think your friend or family member is a furry. This World of Warcraft hoodie is a brilliantly evil “gift” to give any gamer, although be wary that this expensive garment many never see the light of day after the holiday season.