Gamers are an interesting bunch. They aren't always who you expect. They are often men (and women) in their 30as and older, not just kids. And for some, gaming is serious business, that requires serious tech to keep up.
Here are some great gift ideas for both serious and casual gamers, alike.
Asus Republic of Gamers ROG Phone
Yes, there are smartphones designed just for gamers. Whether this is their primary one, or a secondary device, the phone is a pretty serious mobile device in its own right, beyond just for gaming use. It has a 6" AMOLED display, and is powered by a speed-binned 2.96GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile platform with gaming-optimized Qualcomm Adreno 630 GPU. A GameCool vapor-chamber cooling system with a detachable AeroActive Cooler provides extra cooling, and the HDR display offers 90Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. It has side-mounted ports and game controls that are fully programmable to activate actions like aiming, firing, and inventory selection. It works with accessories like a dock for dual-screen handheld mode; desktop dock; and GameVice controller and dock with Wi-Fi for big-screen gaming. The water-resistant phone has a 4,000mAh battery, and up to 8GB of RAM. Using the X Mode, a tap frees up background RAM to dedicate to gaming. Front-facing stereo speakers support 24-bit/192kHz Hi-Res Audio playback. There's also DTS Headphone:X, and support for high-definition audio via Bluetooth. It starts at $1,199; accessories including the Mobile Desktop Dock, TwinView Dock, Gamevice Controller, and WiGig Dock, will be available in Q4.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Headphones
These headphones aren't exclusively for gaming, but they have features that gamers especially will appreciate, like AptX Low Latency compatibility that enhances gaming or video content by keeping audio transmission in sync with the visuals. They are splash- and sweat-resistant, and include a Transparent Hearing feature that blends ambient sounds into the listening experience for improved situational awareness, and so you can participate in conversations without removing the earphones. Access smart assistants like Apple's Siri or Google Assistant via the tap of the touch interface and natural voice commands. Two-mic beamforming technology optimizes voice pick-up for clearer phone calls. Use the Sennheiser Smart Control app to fine-tune the audio via the built-in audio EQ. (The app will be released alongside the product.) With four-hour battery life, the charging case can offer up to 12 hours more. MSRP $379.95.
Alienware m15 Gaming Laptop
Serious gamers might like a laptop that is optimized for gaming, and this one, available in "epic" silver and "nebula" red, and in an ultra-thin and lightweight design, will fit the bill. The keyboard features 1.4mm of key travel, anti-ghosting keys, and four Alien-FX enabled zones to light up the room during gameplay, while also supporting in game lighting reactions for over 150 game titles. It features an 8th generation Intel processor, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 OC and 1070 Max-Q graphics cards capable of features like virtual reality (VR), with additional support for the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. It comes with Alienware Command Center technology with AlienFX customizable RGB-lighting across six zones, Alienware Cryo-Tech 2.0 for thermal management, and while on idle up to a maximum of 17 hours of battery life with the optional 90Whr battery. Starts at US$1,299.
For nostalgic gamers why might only indulge now and then, and prefer simplicity over the flashy games of today, THEC64 Mini is a cool option. From Retro Games Ltd. and Solutions 2 GO, it's a 50% replica of the best-selling computer from 1982. Kids, or more likely their parents, can play via simple plug and play and the included joystick, or program their own games by adding a keyboard, which also makes it a fully functional home computer with C64 Basic. It comes with games like California Games, Winter Games, Impossible Mission II, Boulder Dash, Jumpman, Pitstop II, Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe, Street Sports Baseball, Summer Games II, Temple of Apshai Trilogy, Uridium and more. The computer has two USB ports for adding an extra joystick for multiplayer gaming or connecting a keyboard. It offers high definition output at 720p and 60Hz via HDMI, 4:3 ratio, U.S./Europe display mode options, and a CRT filter for a classic look. For the first time, THEC64 Mini allows you to save your progress in games. THEC64 Mini supports software updates via USB flash drive so you have continued access to improved and enhanced programming. $100
Xbox Adaptive Controller
There's no reason why those with limited mobility should have to forego gaming if it's a favourite pastime. Microsoft has developed a special controller to help people who can't reach all of the bumpers and triggers, or hold a traditional controller for an extended period of time. The controller can work with adaptive switches that gamers might already own, and has two large buttons as well that can be reprogrammed to act as any of the standard controller's button inputs via the Xbox Accessories app. The Controller also supports external inputs for connecting other accessories, including PDP's One-Handed Joystick, Logitech's Extreme 3D Pro Joystick, and Quadstick's Game Controller. Later this year, US$100
Sennheiser GSP 550 Headset
If the Sennheiser true wireless headphones aren't serious enough a gaming accessory for the gamer on your list, consider this headset instead, which is designed to provide 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound for demanding gamers. It features an open acoustic design, but the added Dolby Surround capability creates "an expanded soundstage" that lets gamers get fully immersed in the gaming environment. The PC software lets users customize the sound experience, with different surround modes and equalizer settings for gaming, e-sports and music, plus an ‘off' setting that disables the surround effect. An inline Surround Dongle lets users control the software while in-game. The "broadcast quality" boom microphone includes noise cancellation, and three side tone settings that can be selected in the software interface, allowing gamers to hear more or less of their own voice. The mic can be rotated up out of the way when not in use. The solid metal hinge with a 2-axis mechanism gives the earcups greater freedom of movement, allowing them to conform to both narrow and broad jawlines. The headband also includes an adjustable contact pressure mechanism, adjustable to ensure a snug fit with any head size. Ventilated ear cups have pads covered with a "highly-breathable" fabric. Ear pads, cables and cover plates are exchangeable, and the headphones are covered by a two-year international warranty. MSRP US$249.95
Xbox One X
Even casual gamers will love to see a new gaming console under the tree, since it can act as an entertainment hub in the home as well, for downloading movies and playing back Blu-ray discs. This console boasts an 8-core Custom AMD CPU is clocked at 2.3GHz to bring enhanced AI, real world detail and smoother interactions to your gaming. It offers 12GB GDDR5 of graphic memory that adds speed and power to game performance. The 6 Teraflop GPU enables 4K environments and characters to become more realistic than ever, with more detail and smoother animations. $600
Red Dead Redemption 2
The hottest new game this holiday season, it has been getting rave reviews, and has clinched the title of second-highest grossing game of all time, behind Grand Theft Auto V, which is also from Rockstar Games, with US$725 billion in worldwide retail sales during the first three days of its release (Grand Theft Auto made a cool US$1 billion during its first three days on the market.) The game follows the story of Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang as they rob, steal, and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive. Following a botched robbery in the western town of Blackwater, the gang is forced to flee and, with federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, deepening internal divisions threaten to tear the gang apart, leaving Arthur to make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him. The game is Rockstar's first to be built from the ground up for new generation hardware, and seamlessly blends gameplay and storytelling in a new way to deliver the experience of living as an outlaw in a notorious gang. Red Dead Redemption 2 also includes access to Red Dead Online, the evolution of the classic multiplayer experience in the original Red Dead Redemption, blending narrative with competitive and cooperative gameplay in fun new ways. Rated M for Mature by the ESRB, it sells for $80, or $100 for the special edition version, which includes access to exclusive content. It's available for both the Xbox and PlayStation 4 consoles.
Nintendo Switch Gaming System
This portable console is by no means new, but it will still be sought after by many gamers, including both kids and adults. It includes both an at-home console and a handheld device that can be used for gaming on the go. At home, it rests in the Nintendo Switch Dock that connects the system to the TV and lets you play with family and friends in the comfort of your living room. Lift Nintendo Switch from the dock, and the system will automatically transition to portable mode for continuing play outside of the home. The portability of Nintendo Switch is enhanced by its bright high-definition display. Remove detachable Joy-Con controllers from either side of Nintendo Switch. One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand, or two players can each take one. Or, multiple Joy-Cons can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options. The controllers easily click back into place, or can be slipped into a Joy-Con Grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, if preferred, the gamer can select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. Further, it is possible for numerous people to bring their Nintendo Switch systems together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition. $380
TP-Link Canada Archer C5400x Mu-Mimo Tri-Band Gaming Router
Designed to maximize throughput for demanding gamers, the Archer C5400x is based on a 1.8GHz, 64-bit quad-core processor, combined with three co-processors to balance Wi-Fi demand. It supports MU-MIMO for efficient communication with multiple wireless devices. Link Aggregation helps to maximize transfer speeds on Fiber ISP and NAS (network attached storage) connections up to 2Gbps. TP-Link HomeCare provides "comprehensive network security, and allows QoS (quality of service) prioritization of gaming or other transmissions. Parental controls allow multiple connected devices to be grouped under an individual's profile, controlling Internet access on all of them. A guided setup process allows the router to be installed using Bluetooth and a mobile app. It comes with three years of antivirus protection "monitored" by TrendMicro, which can allow users to disable virus protection on their PC and gain some extra performance. The router also supports TP-Link's Smart Connect, Range Boost and Airtime Fairness technologies, as well Amazon Alexa and IFTTT. MSRP $450
Sensible Object Beasts of Balance
Ideal for family gaming, this game of skill and strategy uses innovative technology to create a form of augmented reality with smart objects. Players take on the role of Divine Creators, tasked to play solo or with friends to build worlds and reach high scores by stacking magical Artefacts into towers. Everything added to the tower interacts with a world that evolves on a wirelessly connected digital device. To succeed, players have to keep their tower and the ecosystem of their world in balance, stacking all 24 pieces and caring for the virtual beasts they create. Beasts of Balance began as a crowd-funded project on Kickstarter in 2016 that successfully raised over US$275,000, well over the initial goal. $140, and requires the free app, which is available on the App Store, Google Play, itch.io, and Amazon.
SteelSeries QcK Prism Mousepad
Providing game-friendly operation for gaming, this mousepad has a cloth surface and features dynamic two-zone RGB lighting, powered by SteelSeries Engine for personalized RGB lighting. Using the SteelSeries Engine and through the PrismSync app, users can easily customize multi-colour lighting effects between all of their SteelSeries Prism-enabled gear. From one-click lighting effects to complex light shows, PrismSync gives gamers the power to perfectly personalize the style of their setup. The RGB lighting can also be integrated with Discord to display custom lighting effects for chat notifications for new messages, mute status and more. Unlike all other RGB-lit mousepads, SteelSeries has intelligently positioned the cable out of the way on the left side, where mouse cables won't get caught on it during gameplay. The QcK Prism Cloth is available in a Medium (320mm x 270mm x 4mm) and XL (900mm x 300mm x 4mm) variant for $40 and $60, respectively.
Staples Gaming Chair
Available exclusively through Staples, this Gaming Chair is designed for gamers who play lengthy, intense gaming sessions. It features a sporty race car style with contrast stitching, and adjustable seat height, tilt tension, and tilt lock, along with a built-in head rest for added support. It has flip-up adjustable arms, and offers good lumbar support. Made from bonded leather, it comes with a seven-year limited warranty, and sells for $200 (on sale for $125).
Want more gift ideas? Check out our other themed gift guides.