(PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC: Rated Teen)
Have a kid who adores Guitar Hero? A teen who really wants to learn guitar? Rocksmith 2014 interfaces with your real guitar or bass, allowing you to play your instrument as a video game... and actually be a rock star. With the added benefit of teaching you a tangible life skill, this game is older-kid friendly and also something the family can play together (you don't want to play Gods of War with Grandma). Rocksmith covers the basics like scales and chords with fun, fast mini-games. The real appeal of the program, though, lies in the hundreds of songs available for lead, rhythm and bass guitars. Multiplayer options mean you can hop on the guitar and Grandma can rock the bass, tracking your progress and scaling the difficulty over time as you get better (or in our case, worse).
A RETRO CONSOLE
Everyone gets so excited about the newest and best console, but what about those time-tested classics that carried a lot of us through our youth? Mario Party on Nintendo 64 can never be beaten. The original Smash Bros carries memories for a lot of us. Even though this may sound like the fanatic rantings of a die-hard old-timer, the merits of older consoles may make them a perfect gift for your gamer. For one, retro game consoles are hipster-cool. Another priority for many parents is the violence factor, especially when we don't want little Johnny playing Grand Theft Auto V. So even though gore is getting more realistic as technology churns on, I can guarantee blood splatters on the N64 are going to be a lot tamer than those in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Locally, you can find these consoles at Game World, which has locations in North Spokane (9439 N. Newport Hwy.) and Spokane Valley (5725 E. Sprague).
LEGO MOVIE GAME
(PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One,
Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PC: Rated E)
I don't care how old you are — The Lego Movie was awesome, but we all saw a Lego Movie video game coming a mile away. Regardless, I bet that someone on your list runs around their home yelling, "Everything is awesome!" on a daily basis, so go ahead and make their dreams come true with a video game to match the song. Feel the thrill of discovery and creation as players evolve from mere "regular builders" to "master extreme extra-awesome builders." Available on every single console ever created, you can feel safe that there's a platform your gamer can play it on. On a related note, real Legos are still cool. Now's the best time to throw some in a stocking.
So your gamer got a brand-new console over Black Friday; it's time to bling that console out! There are hundreds of customizable skins that can be applied to the outer surface of the console; it's perfect if you need to hide some scratches from wear and tear. It's even better if you've always wanted your PS4 to be a different color, look like bamboo, or be cleverly disguised as an N64 (take that, robbers!). These skins are basically stickers, cut out to cover your console/controller set, and are usually semi-permanent. From the American flag to wood grain, you can get a skin for pretty much any console in any design (although the "blaze it"-themed pot plant skin may not be exactly family-friendly).
HARD-CORE GAMING KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
Console gamers may be easy to buy for, but the fine-tuned, distinguished needs of a computer gamer often go unrecognized. PC gamers, especially the MMO types, spend hours in front of their computers. What is their single point of contact? The mouse and keyboard. If your gamer hasn't already made the jump to precise gaming equipment, consider splurging on a nice mouse, keyboard or both. A mouse can make the difference between shooting an enemy dead-on, or missing an enemy by several feet three nanoseconds later. Pro tip: A lot of gaming mouses have mappable buttons on the side. These are handy! Most gamers have a preference for brand, etc., so it might be worthwhile to check out on their current setup. A general rule of thumb is that green LEDs are directly proportional to coolness.
Along the lines of spending hours in front of a monitor, gamers of all shapes and sizes never think about the gaming chair, the piece of furniture most responsible for their posture and spinal health into old age. Bachelors pile up pillows and dirty laundry to find that perfect position for a gaming fest. Teens lay on their stomachs, over couch arms, off tables, and cross-legged, while plugged into their favorite game. Your loved one, their skeletal system, and their chiropractor would all appreciate a support system that won't give your gamer with a permanent hunchback. Chairs that look like Starship Command seats carry a certain "pizzazz" and can get a gamer in the conquering mood. Cup holders are an added benefit for when they inevitably thirst for sustenance.
TURN YOUR SMARTPHONE INTO A CONSOLE
MOGA turns your everyday telecommunications device into a multimedia gaming experience (or as close to a "gaming experience" as you can get sitting in the doctor's office waiting room). Your gamer won't miss one moment of nonstop gaming action with MOGA's cornucopia of products that can turn (pretty much) any phone into a controller/screen combo. There are several tiers of these cellphone controllers, but all are portable and compact. You just need to know what type of phone your gamer has. On the upper side of portable phone gaming handhelds, the Nvidia Shield is about as swag-tastic as a Ferrari.
HALO MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION
(Xbox One: Rated M)
Experience Master Chief's stunning character arc through six different Halo games, packaged together in the Halo Master Chief Collection. Featuring Halo: CE Anniversary, Halo 2, 3, 4, Nightfall and the Guardians beta, this game oozes with spacey, Cortana-esque goodness. Your gamer might just really, really love Halo. You might want to introduce someone to the glory of the fighting the Covenant for the very first time. Either way, collection sets are handy because everything comes in one box — but the Halo Master Chief Collection is only for the Xbox One. ♦