It’s that time of the year again: Christmas/Hanukah/Winter Solstice. No matter what you do or don’t believe in, it’s a time for giving, for buying things for someone else. But when it comes to the gamers on your X-Mas list, what are you going to get them? A game? Not the best idea, as the dedicated gamer you’re shopping for almost certainly bought this year’s biggest games on release day anyway, making your gift redundant.
But don’t lose all hope and settle for buying a bunch of boring gift certificates. There’s a vast ocean called the internet that has so much more that a gamer desires outside of digital entertainment. I scoured the net to find dozens of awesome presents, and if you can’t find something worthwhile, then it’s time to give up. And if you find something you want to get for yourself, we promise not to tell Santa/Hanukah Harry about your greed.
Things to read
American comic book publishers like Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse have recently been pushing hard to appeal more to gamers, which has lead to more than a few surprisingly good graphic novel adaptations of recent hits. Marvel’s had lots of success with Halo comics and this year saw veteran comic writer Peter David’s Halo: Helljumper, which is an original story focusing on the ODST division of Earth’s defense force. Speaking of 360-exclusives, DC has been publishing a Gears of War ongoing series, with the first six issues recently getting collected. Speaking of shooting aliens, around the sequel’s release earlier this year, a Mass Effect 2 companion mini-series came out that detailed Liara’s adventures during Shepard’s disappearance, which should appeal to fans of the sci-fi epic. UDON’s Street Fighter comics were so popular it led to the comic artists working on the HD remix of Street Fighter II, so why not see where it started? For those holding their breath for a Mirror’s Edge sequel, perhaps this comic will tide them over. And lastly there’s the very fine Prince of Persia graphic novel which doesn’t tie-in to any game in the series, but is written by series creator Jordan Mechner.
For those more into the Japanese side of sequential art, there’s been a fair share of quality manga about games too. Pretty recently the Mega Man manga known as Megamix hit stateside to good reviews. Meanwhile, VizKids’ series of manga based on Zelda just reached Phantom Hourglass, and older books based around Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time are out there too. Pokemon grace every type of merchandise, including the Pokemon manga that’s still going strong. And lastly, if someone you know hasn’t read Scott Pilgtim yet, there’s now a convenient box set of the complete series so no more excuses.
Import enthusiast long knew that Capcom released some truly amazing books, with hundreds of pages detailing the art that’s gone into its games over the years. Very recently the publisher finally started to localize these great collections, at last showcasing the rich artistic histories of classic games for an English-speaking audience. The Mega Man art book and its companion Mega Man X art book lets the many artists behind the games shine, with some little seen work that spans more than two decades. If you want something a little more recent, the Ace Attorney art book is a lovely resource for fans of the legal adventure games. And fighting game fans will really enjoy the 20 years of Street Fighter art book that goes from SF’s humble beginnings all the way up to SFIV.
Things to put on the wall
A standard gift for the New Year is a calendar, and mega-developer Blizzard is all over that. For 2011 there’s a WoW calendar, a Starcraft II calendar and a Diablo calendar to hang wherever you need to know the date. They’re pretty sweet, and they’ll help you count the days until 2012 when the next Blizzard game will probably be released. *Oh snap!*
There are tons of posters out for your favorite games, but so few have any heart, any soul. So instead of some glamour shot of Master Chief, wouldn’t you rather have something cleverer, like this collection of funny propaganda posters based around arcade classics?
I’m a pretty big fan of Splitreason, which primarily sells shirts, and the retailer’s best asset is an artist named Glen Brogan. And while his shirts are great, his art looks even better on posters and prints hung around the house. Great art like the Plumber’s Wardrobe poster, the Grocery Fight print and a print titled Pick a Box are all available for pretty cheap.
And if you want something really classy in the game-inspired art field, you need only look to the limited edition prints from the site 1988. Just look down the list of prints for the best fit for your lucky gift recipient, but some of my faves include works based on Zelda, an arcade battle royale, Contra and of course, Mario.