Thursday 5 November 2015

Christmas Gift Guide for Gamers

   October-December is unsurprisingly the season of game releases - just in time for Christmas. But while most avid gamers will have pre-ordered their copies and removed the possibility of getting them the game itself as a gift (looking at you, Seeg), this also means that lots and lots of merchandise becomes equally available, especially for the big AAA names.
   Fallout 4 is one of the highest anticipated games coming out this year, released in the UK on November 10th. The last in the official series was Fallout 3, released all the way back in 2008. Bethesda have a habit of taking a long time to release new games, with their Elder Scrolls series taking just as long. However, it shows through depth and quality - I know I'd rather wait 5 years for a damned good game that I can put 400+ hours into rather than buy the same thing every year and get bored quickly.
   In fact, they took so long to release Fallout 4 that Obsidian Gaming made and released Fallout: New Vegas back in 2010, a new Fallout game built from the base of Fallout 3 - and while it was damned good, it wasn't Bethesda. And that was still 5 years ago, so it's about time for a new fix.
   But Fallout isn't the only thing coming this year. Assassin's Creed, as always, is releasing a new title this year, and the long-awaited Star Wars Battlefront is similarly being released in mid November. Then there's the 'revival' of other much-loved games with the release of expansions, such as The Witcher 3's expansion Hearts of Stone and, though it's likely still a way off, there's much excitement for World of Warcraft's next expansion, Legion, mostly for the Demon Hunter side of things. So there are plenty of games for developers and gamers alike to get hyped about, and so a lot of new merchandise on the market.

   There are loads of options for buying game-related gifts, from websites filled with fan-made pieces like Etsy or Red Bubble, to official stockists like GAME and Zavvi, all of whom often have highly unique and limted goodies.
   Then there are also the game developers and publishers themselves, and it's becoming increasingly popular for them to have online stores with even more limited and unique products exclusive to them. The big names - Bioware, Bethesda, Ubisoft, Blizzard - all have online stores full of merch beyond just games, from clothing to home wares and even prop replicas.
   Then there are websites that specialise exclusively in gamer goodies like Jinx - no games, just t-shirts, toys and other such things.
   I've filtered through them and selected the things I love the most to give you shoppers a few ideas for those hard-to-buy-for gamers this Christmas!

  Let's start with the most important fact: that everyone needs an awful Christmas jumper. But did you know you can replace 'awful' with 'awesome' without compromising on the Christmas-jumperness? "How?" I hear you cry, "how is such a thing possible?"
   With the Fallout 4 Vault-Tec Christmas jumper. I actually decided I was going to get myself a Christmas jumper this year because I haven't had one since I was a kid, and I decided I would have a look mid to late November. A week after making such a decision I stumbled across this. Job done.

   Fancy becoming a werewolf? Well, don't equip it in any populated areas unless you're prepared to slaughter hundreds of guards and spend the weekend pulling arrows out of your hide, but Hircine's ring can grant you that wish.
   Not for reals, but it's a spiffing replica of Skyrim's ring of Hircine, the Hunstmen of the Princes, is cast from solid sterling silver and sized accordingly. It's freaking awesome, and I want one.

   There's little worse while adventuring than your trousers constantly falling down, so, of course, you need a belt. You can tie all your herb pouches to it, conceal an ornate dagger and strap your smoke bomb pouches to it. Functional and discreet.
   It's also a functional and discreet gift, too. At least you know it's likely to be used rather than cluttering up space, which is an issue I have when looking for game-related gifts for Seeg, because we don't have much room and he prefers functional to decorational. It's difficult! Fortunately belts are a relatively simple thing, so most games have at least a buckle or two available. I love this Horde belt and buckle from Jinx. It's not as loud as some I've seen, either.

   How about something for the console itself? There are so many different skins out there that can help the console to become a room's feature, or help it blend in. It's also a great option for people who use their consoles quite a lot, as the decal won't be forgotten about.
   Skins have a little bit of a DIY side to it as it can be difficult to apply the decals correctly, especially to the controllers - I had a lot of trouble, personally, but I only did it once - but there are a number of websites that sell controllers and consoles with the skins already professionally applied, and many also have a send-in service where they will fit the decals to your own machine for you.
   I love this Destiny-themed PS4 skin, it's subtle but it's concise.

   Plushies. Because, though functional is great for gifts, especially if you're uncertain about what they like, if you have a little more confidence then it's always nice to have something that just takes up space. And, being a girl, I believe plushies are the best way to do that.
   I'm also an avid World of Warcraft player and have been for last 8 years, so of course the Blizzard store is one of the first places I look when searching for goodies for myself. I already have a few plushies, and while there are a few new ones available like whelplings and a few Blizzcon-exclusives, my favourite remains the faerie dragon plush. It has graced my collection for almost a year now, Seeg having given it to me for Christmas last year, but its colours, shape and the fact that it's one of my favourite creatures in the game mean that it still catches my eye.

   Perhaps a simpler gift like a t-shirt, something else functional but expressive, and if you're confident enough you can head over to Red Bubble and buy into the inside jokes of games. Arrows to the knee and so on. In this case, Link's given up his adventuring and chasing after Zelda to opt for a slightly less lucrative but more reliable grass-cutting career. That stuff grows back damned fast, after all.
   The best thing about Red Bubble is that there is a broad sizing range, you can choose the colour of the t-shirt (not all of the colours available work with the print chosen, mind you), you can choose the t-shirt style - scoop neck, v-neck, relaxed fit, unisex and so on - and even opt for hoodies and the like. Designs are occasionally limited to certain products but there's usually quite a broad range available.

NaBloPoMo November 2015


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