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Video Games Can Make Great Gifts

A good game can lead to hours of fun as a family or solo questing; some hints on making the most of your shopping time and money

Video games can be great gifts for people of any age. Games are by there definition about having fun and giving them as gifts sends the message that you want your friend or family member to relax and have a good time. There are a world of options out there covering all price ranges and skill levels.

Here are a few tips on shopping for a perfect video game gift and some recommended options for gamers young and old.

  • Know your audience. The games you buy for a 10-year old niece will probably be different than for your 40-something IT guy. There are games for every gaming style: casual, strategy, puzzle, military, fantasy, cooperative, learning, fitness, music and sports just to name a few. There are also game ratings based on the content, ranging from "All Ages" to "Mature"--which is meant for gamers 17+ only. Respect the ratings and the guidance of the parents of any children you are shopping for. Don't just go out and buy "Call of Duty" simply because it is on your nephew's holiday wish list if your sister's rules will forbid his playing it.
  • Know their equipment. If you want to buy a specific game, you need to make sure it will work on the equipment they have. A Wii game won't work on an Xbox360, a 3DS game won't play on a Nintendo DS. If you aren't sure about what system they use and you don't have someone you can find out from, it is probably best to not commit to a particular game.

Games are great ways to have fun together. A family gathering or reunion of high school friends can be more fun with a game that is easy to jump into or that accomodates varied skill levels. The Wii system and the Xbox Kinect system both offer games that get everyone off the couch and into the game. Whether playing a mean game of bowling or competing to see who has the best dance moves, video games can bring everyone on board.

I love playing Rock Band with my kids, my friends, my in-laws, oh OK, anyone who will play with me. It is a great way to share music across all ages and music discovery for newer music along with rock classics.

Games aren't only for kids. Do you have someone in your life who loves to play Sudoku or crossword puzzles? Everyone can enjoy video games even if they came of age when the only search engines were at the library's reference desk. A handheld system like a Nintendo DS or the Wii system with the sports bundle can be fun for someone who is relatively new to gaming.

You don't have to break the bank. Every year, hundreds of game titles come out and some of the classics may have passed you by. Older titles that are well-rated can be just as much fun as the hottest new games. Do a little research on game review sites to see what games score high on long-term play value. Consider used games as even some of the season's new releases get bought, played and traded-in by those who stand in line on release dates. Check out Gamestop (numerous local locations) and 2nd & Charles to see a wide-range of used games and even used consoles.

Give the gift of choice. Perhaps you know that your loved one loves games but you don't have all the details. There are several gift card choices that show that you know they love to game but gives them the freedom to choose their next challenge.

  • Redbox promo code gift cards allow your gamer to rent the newest games without the commitment.
  • Membership to GameFly, the game version of Netflix, is a great way to rent games at a manageable price and also to download PC games.
  • If you have a PC gamer on your list, consider a gift from Steam the digital distribution platform.

Some of the best ways to upgrade your gaming setup, either with new consoles or add-ons such as headsets and controllers, is to visit a store with a wide variety of options. If they are Xbox or PC gamers, head to a local Microsoft store and even give some of the new games a test run. BestBuy has a large selection of games from all of the major players including the new Nintendo WiiU, the PS3, Xbox and the various handheld consoles.

It isn't hard to find someone who is willing to share their enthusiasm for gaming in a gaming specialty store or in the gaming department of an electronics store. Unlike sales people in say a furniture store, when you ask a salesperson for help with video games you are likely to get an enthusiastic fan who wants to make sure that the gaming gift you give is the right fit.

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