Gamers are a picky bunch. That goes for console gamers and PC gamers. (It's one of the few times they can be lumped together.) Only the gift-getter knows what he really wants. The best approach? Ask him what he wants and get exactly that. That's it. They're happy, you win. Spiked egg nog and bonus level points all around. But lets say you want to be old fashioned and surprise the gamer in your life with a gift or gifts that will leave him in awe of your game-gifting abilities.
There's some simple recon you should do before you take the risk of shopping for your favorite gaming geek.
Step 1: Go Through Their Game Collection
If you have access, look through their game collection. See what titles they own, and pay attention to what types of games they've collected. For example, if you see a whole row of Japanese role playing games (RPGs), it's a safe bet they're into that. Or, if you see games like "Spec Ops: The Line," "Call Of Duty - Black Ops 2" and "Battlefield 3," you know they're into military shooters. So on and so forth. IMPORTANT! Note what system their games are marked for. It's a total bummer to get the game you want, only to fond out you've purchased it for the wrong system.
If they have most of their games downloaded on a PC, then just observe what they play while they're playing. Ask questions.
Step 2: Know Your Budget
Games aren't cheap and can cost upwards of $60 on average. But once you know what you're after, there are ways of still impressing without dropping major cash. If you know what the gamer in your life is into -- what games they have -- after looking at his or her collection, you can go the used game route. There's ALWAYS a game or two a gamer wishes they had but just never got around to buying. These are the games that can be bought used on the cheap. Look around at places like GameStop, Ebay or other auction sites for specific titles.
If you're prepared to spend more on a new game, swing by a GameStop, Best Buy, Toys R Us or another chain that carries electronics. If you're buying hardware or a console, then going the new route is better advised than skimping on a refurbished unit, or getting something cheaper like an Xbox 360 without enough hard drive space.
Step 3: Check Reviews Before Buying
Especially important if you're attempting to get a game that wasn't requested. Take a couple minutes and search out some online reviews for the game you're looking at getting. Metacritic.com is a great place to get a sense of how well received a game is.
Step 4: Check The Age Ratings
If you're buying for a kid, or somebody under the age of 18, check the age ratings and restrictions. Do you want to buy your 10-year-old a game with exploding heads and adult themes? Probably not. Video games are like movies, and they aren't all for kids. "Grand Theft Auto" games, for example, probably aren't the best choice for, say, your 8-year-old daughter.
Step 5: Buy! Revel In Success Of A Great Game Gift!
It is worth the effort.
Still need some more help? Check out the slideshow below for some sure bets to make any gamer -- and in some cases non-gamer -- happy. The main theme here is choice.