It's gift-giving season, and that means you and your friends probably have their eye on some gaming-related goodies to get their hands on. But with so many different products on the market, often of dubious quality, how can one know what to get? Fear not, for our writers have clubbed together a list of some of their picks for this holiday season!
For fans of games criticism - or gamers who are simply unabashed bookworms - the Offworld Collection is a thoughtful, beautiful gift for this Christmas. It's a visually striking hardback book, which boasts a hand-picked selection of some of the most meaningful, affecting writing in games journalism.
Offworld was a video game website run by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, two extraordinarily talented journalists who helped me view games in a light I wouldn't have otherwise considered. (Hudson is now culture editor at The Verge, and Alexander continues to write about technology and culture in addition to working as a narrative designer on video games.)
The Collection continues Offworld's legacy for championing voices excluded from mainstream game culture through engrossing, entertaining writing.
From deeply personal responses to indie game narratives, to essays on Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying through Native storytelling, to examining the language used in China's gaming subcultures, it's a showcase of diverse journalism. The Collection continues Offworld's legacy for championing voices excluded from mainstream game culture through engrossing, entertaining writing.
It can also be purchased as an ebook for only $5 USD via itch.io, ideal for readers who want to delve into books anytime on their phone or Kindle.
The Offworld Collection is a book that is guaranteed to introduce readers to fascinating games, unheard of developers who are absolutely worth supporting, and brilliant genres they may have entirely missed if they usually focus exclusively on AAA titles.
You know, I might come from a family of gaming enthusiasts, be an ex-Courier Gaming editor and talk non-stop about accessibility in gaming, but ask me “what do I get as a gift for a gamer” and I’ll draw a blank. What do you buy outside of actual video games or merchandise?
Books. You heard me – we spend enough time reading in-game lore, chat logs and fan theories that literature might be just what we need.
McGonigal uses this book to talk about how gaming can be a space in which we work to fulfil ourselves, and as a space that genuinely promotes mental wellbeing.
For this purpose, I would suggest Jane McGonigal's Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World. McGonigal, a game developer, looks into how MMOs and virtual reality can be used to develop a sense of meaning and community. Time and money is being spent on realities far away from our own, in ways that fulfil an ever-growing population.
Rather than demonise the idea of a world where many millions of us spend significant amounts of our time and paychecks on playing video games, McGonigal uses this book to talk about how gaming can be a space in which we work to fulfil ourselves, and as a space that genuinely promotes mental wellbeing.
An unexpected turn, perhaps, but how many of us turn to a game when we’re feeling sad, angry or dissatisfied with the world?
This book talks about a hypothetical future in which society is actually bettered by gaming, where it can be used as a solution to problems as well as a method of emotional security and happiness. It may initially sound a bit like some kind of quack psychology, but once you get past the gaming puns in the introductory chapter, you get to discussing how gaming is solving real-life issues and how the leading edge of gaming is the space it's establishing for creating a better future.
There is something inherently whimsical about receiving a musical instrument as a Christmas present. For example, I’ve received a new harmonica every Christmas for donkey’s years, and while I can only produce sounds akin to R2-D2 screaming at the top of his droid lungs, it’s nonetheless a fun experience every year.
But what if there was a gift that could celebrate both my utter lack of musical talent, and my love of video games? Introducing the ocarina, an ancient wind instrument made famous by the classic The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time — now available to be plopped straight into the grubby little mitts of your favourite gamer for Christmas.
Despite not being officially licensed by Nintendo, the 12-hole ceramic instrument does make for an accurate and visually pleasing display piece. More than that, it’s fully functional and produces a very calming, airy sound that’s sure to please fans of both the game itself and people who just like pleasant noises.
The 12-hole ceramic instrument does make for an accurate and visually pleasing display piece.
However, it’s important to note that, unlike in the aforementioned game, the instrument has no magical properties, with the possible exception of making one’s family disappear when they play a dreadfully strained rendition of the ‘song of time’ for the hundredth time on Christmas morning.
So, if you know any wannabe Heroes of Time, then you can pick up one of these puppies from a number of online retailers, with the selection available on Amazon running you anywhere from just over a fiver, to around £20 for the more premium models.
Gaming merchandise is an extensive (and often expensive) industry, with plenty of iconic characters and beloved IPs for companies to delve into. Exquisite Gaming are one company that offer a plethora of products for gamers that want to showcase their love for their favourite games, with products having pride of place on their bedroom shelves or computer desks.
Their most popular offering for gamers are their Cable Guys: these are 8” statues that have their arms outstretched which you can use to charge your PlayStation or Xbox controller, and they're also compatible with most smartphones.
Exquisite Gaming are one company that offer a plethora of products for gamers that want to showcase their love for their favourite games
This line of products includes Ryu from classic brawler Street Fighter, the characters Ruin and Battery from Call of Duty, Vault Boys from Bethesda's Fallout series, and the titular characters from Crash Bandicoot and Sonic the Hedgehog.
On top of this new line of merchandise plastered over the front page of the website are their Big Box and Meta Merch lines. The Big Boxes are purchasable crates centred around games - I believe their best option in this line is the Crash Bandicoot box as it comes in a life-crate from the game that contains a messenger bag, fashionable cap, keyring, lanyard and drinking glass, all with Crash Bandicoot designs.
Exquisite Gaming also sell Big Boxes dedicated to Call of Duty - fans can delight in merchandise focused on World War 2 or Black Ops 4.
They are a fairly new company, and are expanding their line of products constantly, so it is definitely worth keeping an eye on their website: exgpro.com.
You want some bona fide game merch? Get a fuckin’ frying pan. It’s pretty cheap, given that some people take the absolute piss for their goods. (£25 for a t-shirt, who do you think you are, Metallica?) Seriously. Frying pan. Not only is it merch, it’s useful for cooking or clobbering people over the head with.
Oh, so you don’t see what a frying pan has to do with gaming? You must have heard of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, I know I have and I contracted lead poisoning from eating a frying pan. There’s a frying pan in that game, I’m like 73% sure.
Frying pan. Not only is it merch, it’s useful for cooking or clobbering people over the head with.
You also have pans in Fallout 4 and you can turn them into a gun! Somehow. The Sims 3 has pans, Cooking Mama has pans, Dishonored has pans. I’m pretty sure that Age of Mythology has pans too... if you zoom in all the way and squint a bit.
Frying pans are real useful, too, they don’t just fry things. You can poach, char, sear, and in a pinch you can use it to crush spices by wrapping them in foil and walloping them with the pan.
Then there’s all the non-culinary uses for a frying pan; headwear, playing tennis, self-defense, hitting it as part of a drum set, and throwing it for a dog to fetch. Frying pans are, to coin a phrase, “lit af”.
(This article was totally not sponsored by Argos.)