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The best gaming gifts for students who play as hard as they work

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I'm sure I'm not the only one to admit that just as many of my student days were spent sat in front of a TV as they were head down in a textbook, with the likes of FIFA, Minecraft, and more representing the perfect study break, hangover cure, or housemate bonding tool for the academically minded. Video games are thus hugely popular amongst the university crowd, with almost every student abode home to least one console for those late night split-screen sessions or house party crowd pleasers. 

With that in mind, it's easier than you think to please the student gamer when it comes to birthdays, christmas, or (fingers crossed) graduation, with all sorts of gaming gifts that can upgrade their student experience with even more interactive entertainment to, uh, 'complement' all that study time. Hey, they might even learn a thing or two useful to their course in the process, as our guide to the best historical games goes to show (though any medical undergraduates should probably steer clear of Surgeon Simulator). 

Extra controllers

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The truth is that staying on healthy terms with your housemates can be a tricky business, but a simple couch co-op session can heal even the deepest scars left by fights over the washing up. Controllers can be a little pricey for a student budget, though, making a gifted game pad ideal as a simple, honest-to-goodness accessory for your friend or loved one's console of choice. 

You can pick up extra controllers for Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch on Amazon from their official retailers and, if you happen to know their favourite colour, all of them come in a variety of styles and themes to make the gift feel that much more special. 

Couch co-op games

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Speaking of couch play, there are a ton of fantastic split screen games that can be enjoyed locally with up to four (or more!) people in the same room, ranging from the intensely competitive to the outright hilarious.

If you're into something simple and social, we can't recommend the likes of Overcooked 2 and Mario Kart 8 enough, whereas titles like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Diablo 3 have been known to extend a well meaning steady break well into the early hours. There'll be no more passing of the controller with these games, which deliberately play into the joys of human interaction for some serious quality time.

Gaming chairs

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Contrary to what their name suggests, gaming chairs aren't necessarily exclusive build for the purpose of playing video games, but can cater to all aspects of the student lifestyle; revision, Netflix marathons, you name it. 

With their comfort-first design, range of built-in accessories, and taste-catering diversity of styles, a good gaming chair is a student's best friend, letting them switch between work and play without even having to stand up. Nothing beats studying from the comfort of your own room while others toil away in the library, blessed with the knowledge that you have one of the best seats on campus.

Amazon Echo dot

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The students of today rely on the joys of the internet more than any generation before them, and the Amazon Echo only makes accessing that wealth of knowledge easier than ever. Not only can the AI assistant offer instant updates on anything from the weather to local movie times, but Amazon's device is compatible with several video games as an all-purpose data bank for any questions you might have as you play, including Destiny 2, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and The Division 2

The Echo also features several of its own voice-enabled adventure games that can be downloaded on its system, such as Skyrim: Very Special Edition, Bethesda's half-joking Alexa adaption of its hit fantasy RPG; sure to go down a treat at any student LAN party. 

PlayStation Classic

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Today's students are just about the right age to remember the original PlayStation from their childhood, but this gift is more than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane. 

Pre-installed with 20 classic PlayStation games, the mini variant of Sony's iconic console comes with two controllers and a built-in virtual memory card, ensuring it’ll be talk of the campus for quite some time amongst those lucky enough to see it in action. The PlayStation Classic is already heavily reduced from its original RRP, too, making it an affordable gift that’ll nonetheless easily please anyone versed in modern gaming history.

Sony PlayStation Classic Console

Sony PlayStation Classic Console: Get it for less than £45 on Amazon UK

Sony PlayStation Classic Console

Sony PlayStation Classic Console: 37% off at Amazon US for under $40

Online gaming subscriptions

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How else are students supposed to stay acquainted with their hometown friends other than via regular meet-ups in Tamriel, Pandora and Los Santos? Phones?! We’ll stick to party chat, thanks. To play with friends and strangers online, students will need a multiplayer subscription for their platform of choice, but you can cut out the paperwork for them with the gift of membership for Xbox Live Gold, PS Plus, or Nintendo Online. 

You can go all in with a year long membership voucher, or opt for something a bit more affordable with biannual and three monthly subscriptions, but we can guarantee this will go down well with the student gamer, and may even help them reconnect with long lost childhood friends.

Gaming headsets

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Relatedly, gifting a student with a good PC headset for gaming is another way to make their multiplayer interactions that little bit sweeter. Not only do the best gaming headsets allow for crystal clear online conversation with friends and in-game parties, but provide unrivalled audio quality while simultaneously blocking out exterior noise such as, say, your housemates arguing over whose turn it is to take the bins out. 

Better yet, most of these headsets can be used with other devices like phones and laptops, perfect for soundtracking those early morning commutes to campus or immersing a late night study session with brain-friendly ambient noise.

Board games

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Video games are great, but sometimes a good old fashioned tabletop adventure is what's really needed to bring students together. Whether it's something as fun and accessible as Pinch 'N' Pass, or a more comprehensive experience like Pandemic that's sure to ignite competition at the local tabletop society, there’s a ton of board games to pick as the perfect gift for the student gamer, especially as those who love video games tend to enjoy board games for precisely the same reasons. Our list of the best board games is filled with potential gifting options, but we've collated a few prize picks here that gives you more than enough to choose from. 

I'm GamesRadar's Features Writer, which makes me responsible for gracing the internet with as many of my words as possible, including reviews, previews, interviews, and more. Lucky internet!