Kotaku Gift Guides: For The Gamer Who Buys All Their Own Games

Kotaku Gift Guides: For The Gamer Who Buys All Their Own Games
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I am the worst person to buy presents for. You probably are too.

Here’s the thing: you like video games. People are aware of this. They know they should buy you something to with video games, but what? You buy everything you want and people are unsure what the hell you have and don’t have. How do you shop for this person? How the hell does someone shop for you or someone like you?

It’s a tricky one, but I’ve had a wee think about it and I have a few suggestions…

Sweet Steam Dollars

When Kotaku’s old designer/tech dude/Destiny addict left our company there was much debate about his going away present. It was decided early on that we would get him some sort of video game gift, but what? Ben was the kind of guy who already had everything.

The answer? Precious Steam bucks.

I didn’t know this until recently, but if you head into EB Games they will sell you a Steam DLC code, adjusted for the current exchange rate. They will print out a receipt and staple it to a piece of cardboard and create a makeshift Steam Gift card. For Ben we did an office round-up and he ended up with a fairly decent chunk of dollars for his Steam account. This came in super handy when Steam sales came around.

EB Games sells these cards in set amounts. The price varies according the exchange rate, but you can buy US$50 or US$20 and receive a DLC code for that amount. A rubbish looking receipt with a code printed on it might not look like much under the Christmas tree, but Steam bucks in the bank is a pretty awesome gift to have.

The Art Book No-one Can Justify Buying

I’ve always thought the best gifts are the indulgences you really, really want but can’t justify. Art books tend to fall into that category, particularly those super expensive art books.

The one that springs to my mind is Dark Souls: Design Works. That book was super premium, so expensive, and a completely silly indulgence — even for hardcore Dark Souls fans. This is the sort of thing that is perfect as a gift. Every person who plays has that one video game they connected with on a different level. Find out what that game is and buy them the stupidly expensive art book they can’t really afford or justify. They will love you for it.

Something Custom Made And Unique

I’m thinking specifically something like a controller or, if you’re keen to splash some cash, maybe a custom made console?

The reason I say controllers is because I think there’s definitely space to create a really unique and personal controller for a loved one that they would absolutely cherish. Maybe they’re a sports fan and you can get the controller done in the colours of their favourite team? Maybe you feel as though you could help create something that suits their general tastes? Either way there are a few great sites that can help you create custom controllers and will ship to Australia.

The Controller Shop seems like a really great choice. They have a ‘lab’ section that allows you to add specific colours, different effects, etc. It can end up being a little on the pricey side, but man: this would be such an excellent gift.

Heizy is my wife. Hi honey!


        • *I* dread the conversations I usually have with my family:

          Them: “Ugh, you’re so hard to buy for! You always get what you want yourself!”

          Me: “Fine, I’ll wait a few months to get [Product I don’t mind waiting a few months for]”

          Them: “No, that’s too expensive. Buy it yourself. Now tell us what you want for Christmas!”

          • This happens to me every birthday/Christmas. But, added to that, I get told off if I dont buy anything for myself for a while because *obviously* I’m working too hard and need to relax.

  • Art books are a great choice. Lots of amazingly pretty books available, and they’re easy to source these days too. Even EB seems to carry a few – may not be the best range or pricing, but very accessible. Pretty sure I’ve even seen video game artbooks at Dymocks.

  • My wife always asks me what I want for Christmas. I always want something gaming-related, but never know what. But she always gets me things that I need, as opposed to things that I want. This includes basically anything non-gaming. I could change that, but who would get me the things I need then?

    • That’s my attitude. If someone asks what I’d like I always mention practical things like clothing accessories and the like. That way I can buy what I want when the impulse strikes.

  • Our family has a long-established tradition of issuing Christmas lists to each other in November each year. Each list is long enough that not everything will be bought, so there’s still an element of surprise come Christmas Eve, we all correspond to avoid duplicates, and there’s an implicit agreement not to buy anything on the list that you issue.

    I have no idea whether other families do something similar to this. It generally works well for us, although my brother (whose birthday follows in late December) always has trouble coming up with a list long enough to cover both occasions…

    • This is what we do, but we wait until early December. And it is expected that if it’s on the list, you don’t buy it under any circumstances. One year, though, my sister in law went through and bought a stack of stuff on her list for herself before Christmas, and ended up with duplicates.

  • just about anything from MAdaboutscience.com.au, coolthings.com.au or the comic book shop and my family will make me happy.

  • Either tell them straight out exactly what you want, or just tell them to get you a gift voucher. I know it’s not much of a surprise when you know what you’re getting, but it saves getting something you don’t want or already have.

    • I always see gift vouchers as fundamentally evil.

      You pay cash (which can be spent anywhere, and does not expire) to a store in exchange for a piece of cardboard which can only be “spent” in one place, typically has an expiry time, is worthless if the store goes bust, cannot be used to get the same item if it is cheaper elsewhere…

      Far better to just hand over cash plus a note that says “spend this at favourite store X and NO CHEATING.”

      I get the sentiment behind gift vouchers, but in terms of a demonstration of intelligence they’re up there with the average lottery.

  • Does anyone else employ the old strategy of “have you bought anything recently that you’d like to pretend is a gift?”

  • Until recently my family would just buy me a gift card and move on. I’ve always hated that, there probably was a lot of thought put into it but it just seems so tacky. So I told them all one year, I don’t want gift cards, just buy, make or steal something with some thought. I’ve gotten some great, and not so great, results.
    My Grandfather bought me a life in 5 seconds book which shows you an abstract picture and you guess who it is.
    Is it what I wanted? Absolutely not
    Do I love it more than what I wanted? You’re damn right I do. It was weird, fun and something he actually went out to look for.

    The only person who asks what I want over and over is my fiance and she goes all out. This year, to make it easier for her, we went to the store and I pointed out a myriad of things that I wanted and then left the store. I helped pack the box into the car and come the birthday I had an awesome statue of Rocket Raccoon and Groot, which surprised me since I thought for sure she would go with the Batman or Zelda ones.

  • I rarely have an answer to “What do you want for Christmas/your birthday?” If I need something, I’ll go and get it. If I want something, I’ll either justify the price and get it myself, or rationalise my not-needing it. If it’s more than I can justify myself spending, it’s too much to not feel guilty over suggesting it as a gift. Hell, I’d love a Les Paul, but if anyone ever bought one for me, I’d tell them to return it, or insist I compensate them for most of the cost. Maybe in a few years I’ll suggest funds towards one in lieu of actual presents…

  • And proving the intro to this article I’ve just gone and bought that Dark Souls book. Yay! (thanks @shane)

    Any other cool game art books that people enjoyed? I’ve got a little collection already, my recent favourite is probably Zelda Hyrule Historia. I like books with rough sketches and alternative designs that didn’t necessarily make it into the final game, rather than just full of marketing images that I’ve already seen.

    • I have a small collection, Obviously yeah, Dark Souls and the Hyrule Historia are really solid choices, I also have the Journey one, which has tonnes of concept art and alternate designs in it, and stuff. Also, if you’re a fan of their games, Blizzard art books are typically really solid (I have two from Collector’s Editions).

      If you can justify the pricetag (I can’t, sadly), then The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy are really good works as well.

      • Ah man, I forgot about The Art of Journey, that was one I really wanted to pick up – looks like prices are pretty steep for that 2nd hand now (~$100 unsigned?).

        I’ve got two Blizzard ones from collectors editions (original Wow and Burning Crusade), those games always have good concept art.

  • I always just appreciate something like a JB HiFi gift voucher so I can go and buy the games or game merch that I want.

    • As a kid who loved games a gift voucher for somewhere that sold games was insanely good but nobody would ever buy them. There’s this weird attitude that it’s an offensive gift to give, but it seems to stem from adults looking way too deep into things which completely goes over the head of kids. In my mind it was ‘they sell games, the voucher can only be used there, so nobody can try and push me out of spending it on exactly what I want’.
      My uncle had no idea what kids were into but thanks to his gift voucher I got a NES. Judge him all you want but he knew he was in over his head and I got a NES. =P

  • Some general tips for those trying to buy games for family members – sneak a peak at what games they have and write the names down (or if they’re all neatly stacked in a DVD rack just take a photo that’s clear enough you can make the names out on). Take that list to someone who actually knows what they’re looking at.
    If they have LEGO Batman and LEGO Batman 2, someone like me can tell you right away that LEGO Batman 3 was just released and they’ll probably enjoy it. Smash Bros on the Wii U may sound like gibberish to you but I can tell you if they’ve got that game you can pick up an Amiibo for under $20 to go with it (it’s sort of like a little toy that connects to some Nintendo games and unlocks stuff). It’ll be a bit hit and miss when it comes to the character choice and whether or not they’re interested in Amiibos at all, but it’s a much more gift friendly choice. If you know them odds are you can just guess that stuff.
    If you’re not sure what consoles they own take photos. A Wii and a Wii U look very similar if you don’t know what you’re looking at, but there’s a huge difference between the two and most people who enjoy games will be able to identify which one you’re dealing with just by looking at a picture of it.

    Also keep in mind there’s a huge gap between liking something and liking it in game form so try to avoid the ‘they like Ninja Turtles, so a Ninja Turtles game would be right for them’ line of thinking unless they’ve specifically stated they like the game. The classic example is Shrek. Everybody loves Shrek but nobody has ever liked a Shrek game. They’re awful. It sucks but if something is popular enough for you to know what it is someone probably paid a good deal of money to rush out a terrible game version of it in time for Christmas.
    The reverse of that can sometimes lead to something good but it’s a bit hard to judge if you don’t know what you’re looking at. For instance my N7 shot glasses are perfect for me because I love drinking and the Mass Effect games. Meanwhile I think I own two of the Dragon Age games but I’m just not that into it so awesome Dragon Age merchandise is wasted on me. It’s higher risk higher reward I guess.

    Games are pretty expensive. You don’t want to spend $70 on a dud gift because you don’t know the difference between Digimon and Pokemon. On top of that kids in particular rely on Christmas and birthdays to get games that are normally too expensive. I’m sure they’ll be happy that you got them anything at all but it sort of sucks to open a gift that’s clearly N64 game size only to find Yoshi Story. Don’t be afraid to just flat out ask them for a list of games they want. I guarantee you that knowing they’re getting a specific game won’t make them any less excited to open it and play it.
    Just keep in mind when taking the direct route that they may drop hints about consoles or hand helds (hand held = portable consoles, like the Game Boy). Those get pretty pricy so don’t let them get their hopes up (it’s easy to say ‘maybe’ without realising that the price is just out of the question). You can get a hand held for about $200-$300. Console prices vary a bit more, but you’re looking at roughly $500+ for an XBOX One, $500+ for a PS4 $400+ for a Wii U. You can shop around for better prices and most of them have a slightly more expensive version with games included but if you find anything significantly cheaper make sure to run it by someone who knows what they’re talking about first. Right now it would be very easy to pick up a brand new 3DS XL for $238 at JB Hi-Fi, without realising that for $6 more you could get a brand new New 3DS XL. The difference between the two? The New 3DS series just made the 3DS series obsolete (Nintendo are fantastic at naming their products…).
    Somewhere like this site is a good place to ask for that advice, since odds are someone here has hunted down the absolute best price of the item you want.

  • Who has 2 thumbs and got the Dark Souls design works book for Christmas last hear.

    …well, you can’t see my thumbs, but I’m referring to myself.

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