Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gamer Gifting

The holiday season has arrived! Although PopMatters is taking the week off, I thought I would spend some time here anyway to chat a bit about gift giving and receiving. As geek afficianados yourselves, surely you have received all sorts of terrible "game-related" merchandise from well-wishing friends and family - a game for a console you do not own, Lego Harry Potter, or a pair of Mario themed undergarments perhaps. Everyone underestimates the difficulty of shopping for game related gifts for the nerds in their life for several reasons.

First, we probably already own it. Have you seen the Steam sales lately? You can purchase an entire studio's backlog of games for the price of a single game. With a new deal every day, I would be surprised if failed to buy more gifts for myself this year than for my family. Also, did you hear Steam was giving away a prize that would grant the winner every single game available on steam? Yes. You read that right. All the games. Also, with all the sequels that have come out, your gift givers will surely think you already own that Uncharted, Gears of War, Batman, etc. game.

Second, there are so many options. More importantly, most of these options look the same. Could your grandmother tell the difference between Brink and Rage? What about Dragon Age and Skyrim? Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3? We have said this time and again, but the industry does not make games accessible to outsiders particularly well. Even the games that stand out - L.A. Noire or Deus Ex: Human Revolution, for example - seem questionable from the perspective of someone who thinks all games feature soldiers or hopping Italians. If family member is going to blow sixty dollars on a holiday gift, they will want to be certain they are making a smart choice. You can imagine, then, why a Gamestop might scare them off.

Solutions? Create a wish list, Steam and Amazon perhaps. Nothing helps a shopper more than an detailed list of gift ideas. You could also request gift cards. With so many great indie titles and DLC packs, some XBLA cash goes a long way. Alternatively, ask your friends and family to donate money to Child's Play or another charitable organization of your choosing. Who are you kidding any way. Your backlog is big enough without adding another game to the docket. Why not share the gaming love by helping out those in need. Your last option, of course, is to acknowledge that kind thoughts from loved one's are more important. Besides, who doesn't love Angry Birds pajamas?

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