GIFT GUIDE: Gamers love gear too

You're looking for the right gift for the gamer(s) in your life, but you don't know what kinds of things they like to play? No problem. There's a lot of other things that make for great presents. Here's some of the practical, as well as ... well, I'll let you judge for yourself.

DreamCade Kegerator, aka the Inebriation Station ($3,995): The perfect gift for the whole fraternity. It’s an arcade cabinet with PC guts and a light-gun attachment that plays a multitude of classic games, such as “Centipede,” “Ms. Pac-Man,” and “Galaga.” It’s also a beer dispenser, with taps on the front and sides, and it holds either a half-barrel or two 5-gallon kegs. www.dreamarcades.com.

FarmVille plushes ($9.99 and up): These stuffed animals, modeled after the virtual livestock found in the incredibly popular Facebook game by Zynga, are a great gift for that person who keeps begging you to water their imaginary crops. Even better, each one comes with virtual Farm Cash for use in the game as well as a code for an in-game version of the plush animal.

Fashion? Gamers aren’t always the most fashionable of people, but we do tend to like clever, geeky T-shirts, especially ones with video-game themes or snarky phrases. Places at which to purchase such things abound, especially on the Internet. But I suggest beginning your search at www.jinx.com, www.thinkgeek.com or www.snorgtees.com.

OnLive gaming system ($119 with a game included): Strictly speaking, you don’t need to have the OnLive gaming system to make use of the cloud-based gaming service — which is also compatible with most PCs, Macs, iPads and Android tablets and phones — but it helps. The system, which connects to the TV and uses a console-style controller, allows players to try out, buy and own many of the latest games instantly over a high-speed Internet connection. And because every aspect of the games is stored on the cloud, players’ games and progress is accessible across platforms. www.onlive.com.

“Point” cards: Available in a variety of denominations, these cards represent purchasing power on the various systems’ online networks: Microsoft’s Xbox Live, Sony’s PlayStation Network and Nintendo’s Wii and 3DS Shopping Channels. The card’s holder can use its value to purchase games and extra content for titles they already own, all of which can be downloaded directly to their Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PSP or 3DS.

Selk’Bag 4G Lite ($99.99): Staying warm and snuggly while playing isn’t always easy, because to hold a controller, one generally has to expose one’s arms and hands to the air. The Selk’Bag 4G Lite, a specially-designed sleeping bag in snowsuit form, solves most of the problem. Although it completely covers the wearer’s body in fluffy goodness, velcro-sealed slits near the wrists allow one to reach out and use a controller. www.selkbagusa.com.

Sony PlayStation 3D Display ($499): While the screen is only 24 inches, this monitor has a lot of power. It’s 1080p with a 240hz refresh rate, fantastic color and 3-D capability. Plus, it’s got a feature called Simulview, where thanks to the magic of 3-D glasses, two players can play on the same screen while looking at completely different pictures. Tip: Its buttons are awkwardly placed, but it’s compatible with almost any Sony remote.

Subsonic Racin’ Pro ($199): This driving controller, compatible with both PCs and the PlayStation 3, blends a cushioned seat with a steering wheel and pedals. While it’s not appropriate for hardcore simulation drivers, it’s perfect for people who play arcade-style racers.

 


NOT OUT YET

PlayStation Vita ($249 WIFI model; $299 WIFI/3G model; $349 first-edition bundle) The successor to Sony's PSP promises to be fantastic, at least according to my experience with the device at 2011's E3 Expo in Los Angeles. It doesn't come out until Feb. 22, 2012 (or Feb. 15, 2012, if you order the "first-edition bundle"), but you could pre-order the device now and hand your intended gift-recipient the receipt so they can pick it up when the time comes.

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