'Tis the season
It's the home stretch of the holidays, and those gifts aren't going to buy themselves. But here's some good news: if you're in a scramble to find a present that'll delight the gamer(s) in your life, you've come to the right place. When it comes to buying gifts, it's really the thought that counts - but you're sure to score some extra points with these affordable picks, which are all available online for $50 or less. You won't find any nifty-but-impractical soaps shaped like game cartridges or limited-quantity jewelry here - just genuinely cool, easy-to-acquire gifts that any video game lover would be happy to have.
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Level-Up Pipe Mug
There are plenty of game-themed coffee mugs out there, but none so perfectly fit the traditional shape of a coffee-holding chalice as this Super Mario Bros. mug. You won't be able to leap down this green pipe and into a subterranean level, but it holds plenty of whatever liquid serves as your personal power-up, and the lip is so much more comfortable to drink from than, say, the Question Mark Block mug.
Image credit: ThinkGeek
Funko POP Power Armor
Given that its gargantuan open world offers 100+ hours of gameplay, Fallout 4 can still be considered the new hotness. Give your favorite Commonwealth explorer a physical reminder of their post-apocalypse conquests with these adorable vinyl Fallout figures done in Funko's trademark, highly collectible style. My personal recommendation is the Brotherhood of Steel power armor - that way, you don't have to deal with the somewhat creepy lack of a mouth and blank, beady eyes inherent to the Funko POP style.
Image credit: ThinkGeek
Video game world map
Anyone who's played an open-world RPG can tell you that staring at fantastical maps is essential, but none are as ornately beautiful as iam8bit's World Map, painted by Scribblenauts artist Edison Yan. This bona fide work of art doesn't recreate any one specific game map - rather, it cherry-picks some of gaming's most famous virtual landmarks and weaves them together in an entrancing expanse. It's pretty, big, subtle enough to be framed and put on a wall, and gamers of all ages will spend hours gazing at this wondrous landscape while trying to identify every last reference.
Final Fantasy 14 hooded blankets
The Final Fantasy series is the origin of not one, but two of the cutest thingamajigs in gaming: horse-sized chicks called Chocobos, and those adorable white puffballs known as Moogles. Now you can get cozy with both of these mythical species, albeit in blanket form. Modeled after their Final Fantasy 14 designs, these Fat Chocobo and Moogle hooded blankets let you bundle up your body and head in shaggy plush, and may cause you to incorporate "WARK" and "Kupo!" into everyday conversations. You'll actually have to give these as holiday vouchers, as they don't ship until February 2016 - but knowing that these on are the way should still warm the recipient's heart.
Game soundtracks on vinyl
If you know anyone with an appreciation for both video games and older analog mediums, these original soundtracks on vinyl will astound them. Quite frankly, you don't even need to own a record player to appreciate these beauties: both the sleeve and the record itself are absolutely gorgeous, with original art adorning the cover and fancy, brightly colored designs for the vinyl. The Super Hexagon EP even comes on a hexagon-shaped record; you don't see those every day. No matter which game soundtrack you choose, this gift will make a handsome addition to any record collection and/or display case.
Splatoon amiibo 3-pack
If you're not sure what amiibo are all about, this explanation is the perfect primer. These official Nintendo-made figures have been all the rage for the past year, sending collectors into a frenzy and enchanting kids with their 'toys-to-life' properties. Now that supplies aren't as limited, it's the perfect time to kickstart an amiibo collection with this lovely pack of three Splatoon amiibo figures. For my money, these amiibo are among the most faithful representations of their in-game counterparts, and the Inklings' designs are just so dang stylish. Be warned: giving this as a gift could very well lead someone on the path of amiibo addiction.
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
There are plenty of breathtaking video game art books to choose from, but Hyrule Historia has the best chance of being a smash-hit gift, what with the timeless popularity of The Legend of Zelda. This impressive hardcover tome is rife with magnificent concept art for Link, Zelda, Ganon, and all the oddball side characters who populate one of Nintendo's most legendary franchises. Best of all, it's incredibly affordable compared to most art books, and doubles as a lore history lesson for anyone curious about Hyrule's infamously convoluted timeline.
When it comes to sheer popularity, nothing beats Minecraft. What started as a niche PC game is now a cultural phenomenon, and the younger generation absolutely adores anything having to do with Minecraft's blocky, build-it-yourself world. If you know a diehard Minecraft fan - and chances are, you do - then you really can't go wrong with a neat toy designed in the game's pixelated style. Kids will love a Minecraft action figure of Steve, the game's protagonist, or an official Minecraft Lego set that replicates the creative gameplay. And anyone can appreciate a harmless foam pickaxe made to look like Minecraft's most iconic item.
Vault Boy bobblehead
Fallout 4 is undoubtedly the biggest release of the holiday season, with millions of players diving into its wide-open wasteland. And though Fallout takes place in an arid post-apocalypse, the face of the franchise has always been Vault Boy, the chipper, '50s-style cartoon mascot you can't help but love. Likewise, it's impossible to hate these bobblehead versions of the little fella, which are sculpted to evoke various stats and actions that define the game. That innocuous, plastic smile on the face of the Vault Boy bobblehead can brighten up any day - even those spent fighting off radiation-infected roaches and giant mutants.