Let a Gamer in Your Life Know You Love Them With the Best Holiday 2021 Gaming and Tech Gifts

From Nintendo to PlayStation to Xbox and more, we have you covered this holiday season.

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Illustration: Eli Orth

The holidays are here finally. My neighbor who put a wreath on the door at the beginning of October would argue they’ve been here for a while now. We’re not interested in the decor though. Just the fancy tech we or our loved ones will be using throughout the year after the wreathes get put away.

Video games and all their extra accessories have always been hot-ticket items for gift-giving this time of year. Consoles a typically tough to come by for the holidays, but even more so this year with the impact chip shortages and global supply chain issues have had on the industry. Even if you can’t get a brand new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X this year, there are still plenty of neat video games and related tech to leave under the tree for a loved one.

Nintendo

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl | $60 each

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Graphic: Nintendo
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Following remakes of the Gen 1, Gen 2, and Gen 3 Pokémon games, it came as a surprise to no one when Nintendo announced remakes of Diamond and Pearl. As anyone of any age what their favorite Pokémon game is and you’ll get a different answer each time. This one, while maybe not my favorite, holds a special place in my heart for getting me back into the series. Whether it’s someone’s return to this entry after a decade, their first time with this generation, or even their first entry with Pokémon at all, they’re bound to have a good time.

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SanDisk MicroSD Card | $22

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Graphic: Wes Davis

The Switch is an impressive piece of hardware in terms of design and uniting all the different ways of play Nintendo has pioneered over the years. Where it isn’t impressive is in its basic specs. If the person you’re buying for owns all digital copies of their games, they’ll fill up the Switch before their home screen of apps even goes to the next page. Best let them be prepared with a microSD card to bump up that capacity to a suitable size.

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Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers | $80

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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If your friend or loved one got their Switch back in 2017 when it launched, chances are at this point their controllers have succumbed to the terrible Joy-Con drift. Surprise them with a replacement set. They also come in all sorts of colors now that weren’t available four years ago. I’ve had my eye on the purple and orange set for a while now myself.

Mario Party Superstars | $55

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Screenshot: Nintendo
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Mario Party has had a rough couple of years ... *checks calendar* ... YIKES! Mario Party has had a rough couple of decades. There are some okay aspects about the later entries in the series, but most would agree the games were at their peak on the Nintendo 64. Nintendo finally acknowledged that by giving us a game that pulls the best parts from that era along with sprinkles of some good ideas that snuck their way in during the following years.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit | $50

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Photo: Nintendo
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The creative augmented reality Switch game—Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit—comes with a physical kart, which you can use to drive around courses in your actual house. The camera on the kart peripheral transmits to your Switch, turning your living room into a full-on track. It’s the perfect gift for kids or even adults who just want an excuse to play with RC cars again (read, me). You can choose between getting Mario or Luigi (or just get both for some two-player action!).

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Xbox

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (3 Months) | $25

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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Don’t just give the gift of a video game this year. Give the gift of EVERY video game. Well, not every video game, but a whole lot nonetheless! Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a Netflix-type subscription service to gain access to an expansive suite of video games from Microsoft and a number of third parties. New games come out on the platform all the time making it an excellent bang for your buck.

Xbox Wireless Controller | $50

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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It never hurts to have a spare controller. And now that Halo finally supports splitscreen again, you’ll want your buddy to have one when you come over. Get them set up by basically buying yourself a controller you leave at their house. The Xbox wireless gamepad is in a variety of colors. More realistically, they’ll be keeping this one for themselves and you’ll get to use their old one. Still though, how very nice and thoughtful of you.

Xbox Elite Series 2 controller | $170

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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If your loved one considers themselves an elite gamer, you might as well make it official by gifting them the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. With a hair-trigger setting, adjustable analog stick, swappable D-pad, and remappable paddle buttons on the back, this controller gives you a noticeable edge—especially in first-person shooters.

Battlefield 2042 | $70

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Screenshot: Electronic Arts
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If your kid or special someone has an Xbox Series X with Game Pass, they’re gonna be pretty set with a lot of options for games. Though there are still some new games coming out worth checking out not part of the subscription—Battlefield 2042 being an obvious one. When they get bored of unlocking on shoulder-piece per week in Halo Infinite, they might want to dip their toes into this massive shooter game with up to 128 players.

Riders Republic | $25

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Screenshot: Ubisoft
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Ever want to ride a bike downhill across Zion? What about glide across in a freaking jetpack? Riders Republic’s massive multiplayer open-world lets you hop in and ski, snowboard, bike, or fly through its beautiful national parks. Enjoy the nice serene views alone or join the chaos of 50 people on bikes toppling over each other on a single narrow path. Might as well pick up a copy for yourself as well to race your Secret Santa online.

PlayStation

WD Black 5TB Game Drive | $130

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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Earlier this year, Sony releases a system update that improves USB hard drive support for the PS5, allowing players to finally store games on an external drive. You won’t be able to play games off the drive, but at least you’ll be able to get them off the system’s limited internal storage. If you’re looking to give a loved one the gift of space, you can get WD Black’s 5TB Game Drive from Newegg.

DEATHLOOP | $25

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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From the creators of Dishonored and Prey, the latest immersive sim from Arkane is out, and folks, it kicks ass... In DEATHLOOP, you play as Colt—a man stuck on an island where everyone including himself is in a time loop. The only way to break it is to kill eight specific people within the same day. Tell your friend or family member that the loop represents your neverending love for them and then tell them not to think about that any further. Anyway, the game’s fun and it’d be a great gift for a PS5 owner.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy | $30

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Screenshot: Square Enix
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One of the biggest surprises this fall has been the critical success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Following Square Enix’s middling attempt at Marvel’s The Avengers left a bad taste in many of our mouths, but it redeemed itself by dropping the live service component for a fully single-player experience built on the strongest part of this IP—the relationship dynamic between the heroes.

PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller (Cosmic Red) | $74

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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This controller is real purty. I don’t even have a PS5 and I’m thinking of getting it myself. Might stop over at Shermin-Williams to have them color match it so I can paint the wall of my apartment this color. Luckily for me, it will work on my PC, but maybe someone special in your life has the PS5 and would like this stunning controller between their hands at they 360 noscope all their friends.

PlayStation Plus: 12 Month Membership | $40

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Speaking of 360 noscopes, in order to do that against other real gamers, you need to be online which is not free. If you’re at a complete loss of what to get your gamer kid, you can’t go wrong with just an online membership. Even if they’re already online, it’s something they probably will be paying for indefinitely so long as they still like playing video games. They can just redeem this code and stick it on the back so they don’t need to think about paying for it for another year.

PC Gaming

AndaSeat T-Pro 2 Gaming Chair | $350

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Graphic: AndaSeat
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My pa always says to never cheap out on anything that goes between you and the ground. That means your sneakers, your mattress, your tires, and of course your gamer chair. It’s time to ditch the cheap desk chair you’re using that’s been destroying your back. Or maybe it’s destroying the back of a loved one. Fix that for them with something like the AndaSeat T-Pro 2 gaming chair. What’s excellent about this chair, beyond it just being super comfortable, in my personal taste is the relaxed color scheme. No bright lines of red or blue—this is a chair that will work nicely around the rest of the furniture in your home. You can check out my full review here. If you’re already sold though, you’ll be happy to know the is $200 off in all three color options.

LG Ultragear 27" 2K QHD Montior

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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I may cause quite a stir saying this, but nobody needs a 4K monitor. The specs on a monitor are a balancing act in order to keep the price down. It’s not like a television—at 27" you’re really not going to notice too much of a difference between 4K and 1440p. That’s not to say you won’t notice any difference. However, you’ll be much quicker to notice a low framerate. This guy is 144Hz. I made the mistake of getting a 1440p 60Hz monitor and that refresh rate is what I’m kicking myself over—not the refresh rate. Go treat your loved ones better than I treat myself.

Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop | $2,700

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Wow, you must really love this person. This is quite the gift. Could you get one for me too? Gaming laptops are becoming more viable with Razer doing some incredible work like fitting a dang 3070 somewhere into this thing. This particular model is 1440p and has a refresh rate of 165Hz. You should also throw in a high-quality photo of yourself to be the desktop wallpaper so they’re constantly reminded it was you who got them this wonderful gift.

TP-Link Deco X20 (3-Pack) | $230

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Give the gift of fast, reliable internet. The latest big steps in home internet are the availability of Wi-Fi 6 and the popularization of mesh networks. Our friends at Gizmodo squared off several options against each other in a no-holds-barred, battle royale. The TP-Link Deco X20 came out on top and is not too expensive for a set of three.

Ducky One 2 Skyline Keyboard | $115

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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If you’re anything like me, you’re like playing games on your PC but the RGB aesthetic does absolutely nothing for you (there are dozens of us!). If this is the case, you can get yourself a solid mechanical keyboard without all the rainbow lights. Or maybe for a friend. I use a Ducky myself and adore the thing. These come with Cherry MX Silent Red whoever you gift it to can enjoy the tactile feel of mechanical keys all through the night without waking up their neighbors.

Peripherals

Backbone Controller for iPhone | $100

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Xbox Cloud Gaming launched earlier this year and is the lowest entry point to start playing high-quality games on the cheap. If someone you love wants to get into gaming, the Backbone controller makes an excellent gift as it will turn their iPhone into a handheld gaming console as well as give them one month free of Game Pass Ultimate (provided they are a new subscriber).

Razer’s Tartarus v2 | $50

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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Mouse/keyboard versus controller is a debate as old as time (or at least as old as computer and the first home console video game). A mouse gives you lightning-fast control over your aim and its acceleration, but using keys to walk is wonky with only one speed and eight directions. A controller’s analog stick allows for precise control over your walking speed as well as direction, but the second analog for aim needs all sorts of aim assist added to the game just to work as intended. But fear not. Razer’s Tartarus v2 gives you the power of both. Use mouse and keyboard while your left thumb rests on a proper analog stick for movement. If it doesn’t help, then I’m afraid it might just be your own skills to blame.

Oculus Quest 2 | $300

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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With the Big 2 next-gen consoles being impossible to find, you can still gift your loved one a great new toy to play video games on. The Oculus Quest 2 is by far the best VR bang for your buck. An all-in-one headset that requires no wires or secondary unit to stream the games through. It’s all built right into the unit for a fantastic -out-of-the-box experience. I’ve been playing Walkabout Mini Golf with some out-of-state friends the past few nights and its some of the most fun I’ve had gaming online in a while.

Roccat Torch USB Microphone | $100

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Photo: ROCCAT
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There are an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to USB microphones. For someone looking to dip their toes into streaming, or just wants crystal clear audio for their Discord and Zoom calls, the Roccat Torch Mic is an outstanding choice. It’s very straightforward to use, makes good practical use of its RGB lighting, and offers several modes to switch between so you can generate the best sound depending on your surroundings. You can check out my full review here.

Razer BlackShark V2 Pro Wireless Gaming Headset | $130

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Photo: Razer
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Get the gamer in your life a solid set of surround sound headphones so they can hear the pitter-patter of enemy footsteps around corners. These heaphones from Razer are compatible with all major consoles—PC, PS5, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S—doesn’t matter! Or perhaps the gamer in your life is you. Get it for yourself and give your roommates the gift of peace and quiet in the living room while you’re gaming.

Toys, Board Games, & More

Betrayal at the House on the Hill | $28

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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Betrayal at the House on the Hill is every B horror movie you’ve ever seen rolled into one. My friends and I started getting into, for lack of a better term, more “advanced” tabletop/board games a few years ago. Betrayal acted as sort of our intro into TTRPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. There is ample opportunity for roleplay which certainly enhances the experience. If you lean into the goofiness and tropes of the genre, you are in for a really fun and laugh-filled couple of hours.

Little Budy Yoshi Plushes | $12-$16

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli
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Yoshi’s sure are cute, huh? And they come in every color under the sun. As a plush, they make a great stuffed animal to indoctrinate toddlers into becoming gamers. Get them while they’re young. I got my niece the blue one because I had a blue Yoshi plush when I was a kid and also because the blue one is the best one.

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Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook | $19

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Graphic: Joe Tilleli

Get dozens of recipes inspired by the cuisine of Skyrim, Morrowind, and all of Tamriel. You could probably even get this for your grandmother without here being any the wiser that it’s all from a video game (unless of course she’s the famous Skyrim grandma that has more hours logged in that game than many people have in total on this earth).

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Monopoly: Animal Crossing New Horizons Edition | $13

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Could there be a more perfect pairing than Tom Nook and Monopoly? Feel what it’s like to live a day in Tom Nook’s shoes and buy up all the property in Monopoly: Animal Crossing New Horizons Edition. Monopoly is a a downright classic that’s fun to play with new twists. Enjoy the island life and earn Nook miles with the whole family.

Wavelength | $35

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My extended family is always looking for new games to play at BBQs and holiday gatherings. And they always look to me to bring something new. The one to make the biggest splash as of recent was certainly Wavelength. Simple to set up and put away, simple to learn, simple to play—yet my family never keeps things simple. Every round ends in a screaming match (out of love!). So if your family is like mine who love to yell and laugh with each other, arguing their respective points—your family may like Wavelength.