Picks

The Best Holiday Gifts to Give Gamers, According to Gamers

From gaming headsets to functional Pokéballs.

Woman playing with Nintendo Switch.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening (is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?), but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that college student, or serious home cook, or boss (who has everything) in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we found ten gamers to tell us what they want for the holidays, from gaming headsets to functional Pokéballs.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! ($60)

For last year’s gift guide for gamers, Emily Sheehan and Claire Manganiello, creative team at Mother New York, recommended Mario Odyssey for Switch. But today they are emphatic: “This year, Mario’s dead to us. 2018 is all about the Pokémon Switch. Eevee and Pikachu are both featured, looking cute as heck.” Amanda Cosmos, QA lead at Dots, is especially excited about Pokémon: Let’s Go, Evee. As she explains, “It’s simpler gameplay than the mainline Pokémon games, made to be more Pokémon Go-style, but as someone who bounced off the last couple of iterations of the series, I’m eager to try something new. Also,” she adds, “looking forward to dressing up my Eevee pal.”

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! + Poké Ball Plus Pack ($100)

If they want to take the Pokémon obsession one step further, Sheehan, Manganiello, and Cosmos all recommend gifting the Eevee bundle, which comes with a physical Pokéball that you can throw into space to catch your Pokémon.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! + Poké Ball Plus Pack.

Nintendo Switch – Neon Red and Neon Blue Joy-Con ($299)

Or, if they still don’t have a Nintendo Switch, Cosmos notes that you can go all-in with a “cute bundle that comes with a Pokémon-themed version of the game system complete with Pikachu and Eevee colors and embellishments” (though it’s currently sold out at most retailers). But unlike last year, the blue-and-red Nintendo Switch is readily available, and as Jamin Warren, founder and CEO of Kill Screen, told us last year, “It’s the perfect device for playing games on the go. Not only does it easily dock to your television, there are lots of great new games on it, such as Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. For those who are looking for something really versatile and social, it’s a perfect device.”

Nintendo Switch – Neon Red and Neon Blue Joy-Con.

Oculus Rift + Touch Virtual Reality System ($399)

Though virtual reality headsets might not be as popular now as they were last year, Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change, still maintains that an Oculus Rift is a great gift for an avid gamer. “It offers a premium consumer experience in virtual reality, with stunning visuals and controls that let you interact naturally,” she says. “Some of my most memorable gaming experiences have come through this technology, particularly with Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which won our Games For Change x Polygon People’s Choice Award and released a VR mode earlier this year. Not only is the game an action-packed struggle for survival as a Celtic warrior, it’s one of the most moving and well-researched depictions of mental illness in games ever.” And the Oculus Rift system is also cheaper than ever before, at just $399 for both the headset and the controllers.

Oculus Rift + Touch Virtual Reality System.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset ($330)

Akua Harris, a member of Black Girl Gamers, has an eye on a new gaming headset. “This one by SteelSeries for PS4 and PC comes with dual batteries and a 40-foot range (so you can go get a snack while waiting for the next round to start),” she says, adding that the sleek exterior makes it easy to customize with stickers.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset.

Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Gaming Headset ($180)

“Also giving heart-eyes to this headset by Turtle Beach,” she adds, “which works on all three consoles.”

Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Gaming Headset.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Digital Standard Edition ($30)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the perfect gift for gamers who like a good mix of narrative and adventure,” says Laura Gatti, technical artist at Dots, “with stunning environmental art and a great combination of story, dialogue, and action.”

Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Digital Standard Edition.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom ($1,177)

Justine Ezarik of iJustine is a big fan of the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. “This has been my go-to drone since it was released this year,” she explains and calls it, “a great gift for a drone enthusiast or even a beginner.”

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom.

DJI Spark, Portable Mini Drone ($321)

If you’re looking for a less-expensive drone, however, last year, Ezarik recommended the DJI Spark, calling it her “favorite tiny, portable drone. It’s perfect for anyone who has never had a drone before. It can take off and land from the palm of your hand, and you can even fly it right from your iPhone without a controller.”

DJI Spark, Portable Mini Drone.

Apple Watch Series 4 ($499)

Ezarik also recommends the new Apple Watch Series 4. “With improved heart-rate and fitness tracking, get ready to kick your New Year’s fitness resolutions into gear,” she says. One feature of OS5 that she’s particularly stoked on is how “you can send friendly seven-day fitness competitions to your other friends with an Apple Watch.”

Apple Watch Series 4.

Goddess Mode #1 ($4)

“One of my favorite video game creators, Zoe Quinn, is writing a new comic book series called Goddess Mode,” says Katie Kaitchuck, executive director of GaymerX. “Set in a technocratic near future, the story is about a tech support worker who discovers a secret world within the artificial intelligence system she maintains. The art is so bold and vibrant and the story so fascinating, I can’t remember a comic series I’ve ever been this excited to read.” It doesn’t come out until December 12, but you should still be able to get it before Christmas.

Goddess Mode #1.

Toymail Talkie Bat ($60) 

“Connectivity is a constant at this point, but we all feel guilt around screen-time,” says Matt Harrigan, co-founder and managing director of Grand Central Tech. “Toymail is a means by which adults can communicate with kids and have shared connectivity time. And the stuffed animals are really cute.”

Toymail Talkie Bat.