The PC Gamer Christmas Gift Guide

PC Gamer

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Are you short on Christmas gift ideas for the important geek in your life? Or perhaps you are that very geek, and looking desperately to express your desires to nerd-naive family members. This gift guide can help you get what you want. Here's how: first eat a bucket of fried chicken. Next, open our collection of geeky, gamey treats on a monitor and paw at what you want. Then leave the desk. When a family member sits down at the desk to play some Facebook games, he or she will see the greasy smears over the desired object and then make a note of it on the notepad you strategically placed at the side. Job done.

Of course, subscriptions to our monthly magazine also make excellent last minute gifts .

Posters

Toys

Clothes

Boardgames

Comics

Hardware

In-game items

Peripherals and desktop kit

Miscellaneous gadgetry

Absurd luxury items

Posters

There is only one thing classier than a poster and that's the noise a Ferrero Rocher makes when being opened. I have it on good authority that it's actually made from a combination of sounds, including a wink from James Bond, a wave from the Queen, and the subtle connection of fist on fist when Barack fistbumps Michelle. But you're unlikely to experience those first-hand, so instead just whack these up and pretend you're classy.

BioShock: Infinite Lithograph

This is a limited edition print of some BioShock: Infinite concept art. "Limited" means in times of scarcity, like a recession or a nuclear apocalypse, it could be used as a barter item. You want clean pants and a tin of dog food? Hand over that poster, you grubby survivor.

Irrational Games shop: $25 / £16

Guild Wars 2 Wall Graphics

Sleep is for babies and those recovering from manly pursuits, such as punching mountains. Help your body out of the weakling habit by putting one of these Guild Wars 2 prints on the wall. They can be up to 7 feet in size, so your view would be dominated by a giant lion man-beast thing. Who could sleep in such conditions? Not I, friends. Not I.

Guild Wars 2 shop: $150 / £95

Meet the Pyro Lithograph

I DON'T KNOW WHAT A LITHOGRAPH IS. Why not buy this and then tell me what Valve sent you? In the meantime, I'll stick it here in the poster section and presume it's a large, printed representation of the Buzz Aldrin of Team Fortress 2 shorts. Second best!

Valve store: $9.99 / £6.50

Double Fine Adventure Lumberjack Print

Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Tim Schafer! Also, a poster of concept art from his Kickstarted Adventure game.

Double Fine shop: $30.00 / £19

eBoyPixel Art posters

For those that love gaming aesthetics but don't want to specify love for a particular game, there's eBoy's lovely work. The pixel artists at the art collective have rendered cities all over the world in their gorgeous, garish, blocky style.

eBoy shop: $30 / £15

Toys

Now, I sort of consider games to be toys, but when I was little I considered toys to be things you could hug. Obviously I can't hug my PC, because it doesn't have the specific hug ports installed, so instead I turn to games-inspired toys like those listed below. Or, in the drone's case, just a damn cool thing that would be amazing to own.

Guild Wars 2 Charr Plushie

"This is not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15." So says the description of this huggable Charr plushie. It's true: I gave it to someone who was 14 and eleven months and I'm still picking bits of spleen out of my beard.

Guild Wars 2 store: $34 / £29

WoW Deathwing Stormwind Assault Set

Mega Bloks! Every child's favourite plastic building set. And now with 100% more Deathwing Stormwind, from the World of Warcraft electronic computer game. I hear it's a bit like The Sims, but you play it with your BFFs.

Blizzard store: $85 / £66

Symbiote's Dragonborn

Fus-Ro-Dawwwww! Who'd have thought that a man brought up in the chilly wastes of Skyrim and wears a helmet of horns could be so huggable? This little cutie is a three-inch bundle of joy based on Skyrim's default Dragonborn. I'd write more, but I'm too caught up in the hug. Just go around me.

Symbiote Studios: $13 / £9

Inflatable Dota 2 Donkey

Breathing is only a secondary role for your lungs. Their primary use is to inflate things. Play pools, balloons, lifesize inflatable Taj Mahals. If you still have breath after that, why not inflate this inflatable Dota 2 donkey?

Think Geek: $40 / £25

Micro-Drone

Basically a manhack. But if you hit this hugely controllable quad-copter with a crowbar something something Half-Life 2. Hey, you try and write jokes for every entry, see how far you get.

Firebox: $110 - £70

Clothing

Hands-up if you're a nudist? OH GOD PUT THEM BACK DOWN AGAIN! I didn't think that through. New game! Gesture with your elbows, but do not in any way move your hands, if you're a nudist? Okay. Listen up, wrinklies, because I've invented a thing called "clothing". This will allow people to be naked, but others will not be able to see it unless they're underneath the clothes. I've licensed the notion to games companies, who have created their own "clothes" that you can now use to cover your shame. You're welcome.

Deus Ex Trenchcoat

Are your knees cold? If so, this is the coat for you. It sits on your shoulders, sure, but the custom gold and black lining stretches all the way down to your knees, making you look like Deus Ex:Human Revolution's protagonist and keeping you warm. Which is funny, because you'll look cool wearing it.

Deus Ex store: $189 / £165

Minecraft: Three Creeper Moon Shirt

And on the eighth day, Godthing did turn to Notch and asked him where he got that cool t-shirt with three Creepers and the moon? And Notch did say something in Swedish which translated to a QR code that led us to a hashtag that was all about online store Jinx. Amen.

Jinx.com: $25 / £23

Dota 2: Wizard and Donkey

This is actual magic. Not only do you get a classy Dota 2 shirt to cover the shameful bits that your mother warned you not to touch in front of your aunt, but the t-shirt also comes with a code that gives you the characters in game. It's pretty quantum.

Valve store: $30 / £25

Dark Souls tees from Meat Bun

Are you hardcore enough to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase "CEASELESS DISCHARGE"? Even if you fall at that hurdle, Meat Bun's Dark Souls-themed t-shirts should have something for you: be that in the form of a government-information-style poster of a giant grinning cat bearing the legend "ONLY YOU can prevent forest invasions!" or death-metal typography reading "PURE BLACK TENDENCY" or the above anatomical drawing of a mimic. Few gaming tees hit this sweet spot between fandom and fashion with such deadly accuracy.

Meat Bun: $24 / £15

Assassin's Creed Hoodie

If you're a gamer and you have a hood, you will pretend to be an Assassin's Creed character when popping it. It's basic psychology. So why not just do it wearing this official Assassin's Creed 3 hoodie? The 'hidden blade' detailing isn't all that hidden, but apart from that you'll look awesomely assassiny. Awesassinly!

Ubi store: $64.99 / £40.75

Mass Effect Sneakers

Feet are useless. They are basically the appendix of the body. But wait! Stop your sawing and sew up those wounds! There's no need to cut them off because I said so. You can simply hide the smell and the verrucas with these striking Mass Effect 3 sneakers. Socks sold separately.

Bioware store: $85 / £73

Boardgames

Like computer games, but flatter and made of woodpulp, boardgames are now entering a second golden age. And while you might argue that their digital equivalents have bettered them in some ways (scoring is a lot easier with a PC to do all the maths for you, and toddlers can't insert bits of computer games in their noses) there's nothing quite like getting a bunch of your mates round a table and shouting, "No! YOU'RE a Cylon!" at each other for hours and hours and hours.

Pandemic

A cooperative disease-curing board game? It sounds tame, but Pandemic is actually a tense exercise in logistics. Players act as different specialists (dispatcher, scientist, researcher, operations expert, or medics), hopping across the globe to eradicate outbreaks and the spread of four viral contagions. Only good teamwork, communication, and planning ahead can prevent the death of millions.

Amazon US: $30 / Amazon UK: £27.50

Risk Legacy

A PC Gamer favorite. Legacy not only trims the classic all-day map-gazer to a more respectful 120-something minutes by adding parallel victory conditions, it introduces bold, brilliant changes that permanently change the board itself as you complete games. Faction abilities, map modifiers, and events are introduced as games are won, making Risk: Legacy an excellent investment for a group of friends. It's a genius approach to redesigning a classic game: make it more slightly more complex, but roll out that complexity gradually as players play the game. Also, one of the factions has bear cavalry.

Amazon US: $46.92 / Amazon UK: £40

Zombicide

This well-funded Kickstarter game is expensive, but it's the best current take on cooperative zombie board gaming, and an absolute improvement over 2007's Last Night On Earth . It rests in that same happy valley between complexity and simplicity that Pandemic dwells in—a tiled board with 10 scenarios of varying difficulty, six-player cooperative play, easy combat instructions, and well-designed rules for automated movement and management of zombies means you don't have to spend two hours memorizing a manual before getting started.

Amazon US: $71 / Amazon UK: £62.29

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

A brilliant game of bickering, betrayal and robots for up to six players, BSG sees players take on roles from the TV series to defend the dwindling vestiges of humanity from the ruthless Cylons. Except, one or more of the players may be Cylon agents working to sabotage the spaceship and divide the crew. What follows is a frantic struggle aganst calamity, made all the more fraught by in-fighting and power-grabs among the players as paranoia and persecution take hold. We've been playing it for years now, and humanity has never once prevailed - but that's never made it any less entertaining.

Amazon US: $37.75 / Amazon UK: £35.04

Space Alert

Another game of extra-terrestrial calamity, Space Alert is often compared to FTL: Faster Than Light, and vice versa. Here, players receive instructions as to incoming threats and have to quickly plan their complicated collaborative action plan in advance, and then execute it in real time. Things go wrong. Like, everybody-dying-in-the-vacuum-of-space wrong. The time pressure, memory challenge and chaotic cooperation ar enough to fray even the most hardened crew's organisation skills, making for a raucously enjoyable evening of space-death.

Amazon US: $42.45 / Infinity Games UK: £46

Comics

How far we've come from the funny pages. No longer are comic books synonymous with infantile power fantasies about men in luminously-coloured spandex punching space-goblins in their exposed electro-brains - although, that said, we still rather like reading those too. Now comics cover everything from war reportage to bewilderingly experimental meditations on the relationship between human lives and architectural space. Biff! Sock! Pow!

Invincible

Written by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Invincible is alternatingly funny, sincere, dark, and playful. Kirkman shows incredible awareness of superhero comic conventions as he masterfully celebrates the genre without either drifting into satire or referential indulgence. This is an original, self-aware story, and at the heart of it is a son's relationship with his dad. Beyond it: intergalactic war, love, loyalty, and a delightful exploration of what it'd be like to be a crime-fighting, flying, caped hero high schooler.

Comixology: trades - $5.99-11.99

Amazon US: Invincible Compendium - $41 / Amazon UK: Invincible Compendium - £38

Fatale

Populated by monsters, private eyes, and (duh) femme fatales, Fatale is a terrifically original mash-up of crime noir and horror (noirror?). Like Locke & Key, it masterfully deploys on supernatural twists and violence while maintaining your interest in the natural, relatable drama between its characters.

Comixology: $1.99/issue

Amazon US: Fatale, Book 1 - $8.51 / Amazon UK: Fatale, Book 1 - £7.69

Locke & Key

Going on its sixth trade paperback, L&K is a lightly Lovecraftian, contemporary horror series that follows a family displaced after tragedy. As the Lockes retreat to their ancestral home in Massachusetts, they begin to find magic keys scattered inside the mansion—powerful artifacts that are their only defense from ancient harms. Writer Joe Hill shares his dad's (Stephen King) talent for grounding horror in human relationships, and uses the series' to take its characters to imaginative and surprising places.

Comixology trades - $5.99-9.99

Amazon US: Vol. 1 - $13.59 / Amazon UK: Vol. 1 - £13.29

Sam & Max: Surfin' The Highway

Just released digitally, this anniversary edition collects 194 pages worth of adventures of the Freelance Police, our favorite anthropomorphic crime-fighting duo, who most recently appeared in game form in Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse .

Comixology: $15.99 / Forbidden Planet UK: £10.34

Batman (2011-)

Of DC Comics' “New 52” reboots, Batman is perhaps the most universally well-regarded. Helmed by American Vampire writer Scott Snyder, the new Batman manages to be original even as it retreads and reworks the themes and story of nerdkind's favorite dark hero.

Comixology: issues - $1.99-2.99

Amazon US: Volume 1: The Court of Owls - $15.98 / Forbidden Planet UK: Volume 1: The Court of Owls - £13.10

Building Stories

Chris Ware's latest stretches the comic form to breaking point - then snaps it in half, folds its segments into elaborate origami and then reassembles it as an disorientingly ambitious exploration of narrative, architecture and the drama of everyday life. At times overwhelming and unwieldy, Building Stories comes as a box containing all manner of fragments - posters, booklets, pamphlets - which condense into the story of a single red-brick Chicago flat and the movingly mundane lives of those within.

Amazon US: $28.35 / Amazon UK: £13.50

Hardware

The enforced mediocrity of cross-platform releases have held back games for too long. Now, finally, the wheezing, geriatric consoles are giving way to games that promise to give our rigs a real work out. But if the PC is going to be doing heavy lifting in the year to come, it'd better get buff first, and on a recession-beating budget. See below for our recommendations for the best value performance-boosting kit.

Intel Core i5 3570k

This is the CPU that powers PCG's own recommended rig. Higher performance processors exist, but the i5 is no slouch at off-the-shelf speeds and it's overclockable, too, making it one of the best value chips around, and one that should see you through for several years.

Amazon: $270 / £170

Asus P8H77-I

It's not overburdened with features, but it's cheap and good enough for a Core i5 processor. Plus, it comes with an assured compatibility with Windows 8, should you feel the need to upgrade to it in the next few years.

Dabs.com: $123 / £77

Crucial Ballistix Sport

Eight gigabytes of fast 1600MHz DDR3 for under $40. Grab it quick, just in case it's a misprint.

Crucial.com: $58 / £36

Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 Ghz Ed

Formerly over £200/$320, but at this price the performance is stunning.

Pixmania: $270 / £170

Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB

A year after the Thai floods and most drives are still overpriced, but there are a few decent deals out there if you look for them. This Caviar Black doesn't offer as many bytes for your buck as the economy Green version but its faster speed makes it a much more suitable primary drive.

Pixmania: $120 / £75

In-game items

You might not be able to stick them in a stocking, but some of our most prized possessions this year only exist in the form of 1s and 0s. Few gamers will be downhearted by the gift of a snazzy digital hat or a helpful badger - and it saves on wrapping paper, too! You just try gift-wrapping a real badger. They don't like it.

DOTA 2: The Axecutioner Set

Let's face it: If the DOTA players on your gift list aren't playing Axe, you are well within your rights to tell them they are playing the game wrong. One way to hammer the point home would be to gift them with this stylish and very reasonably priced item set. It features an even better axe for Axe, making him 58% axier on average. And nothing really says it's the holidays like a string of severed human heads to hang on your hip. Am I right?

Dota 2 store: $5 / £3.19

Team Fortress 2: Big Elfin Deal

Yeah, so this was part of last year's holiday update. But ask yourself honestly: do the scouts in your life deserve better? The answer is probably no. So get them this ridiculous hat with elf ears and be secure that you have fulfilled your minimum friendship obligation for 2012.

Steam Store: $7.50 - £5

PlanetSide 2: NC Gausss Compact Burst

Firing in short bursts that are deadly at medium range, this little beauty is a great addition to the arsenal of any of your NC comrades looking for new and exciting ways to splatter blood across the wintry battlefields of Esamir this holiday season. Tested and approved by PC Gamer designated marksman rifle fan T.J. (If you have friends that aren't in the NC, they obviously should not be expecting gifts. Let them buy their own over-engineered pea shooters and stupid laser guns.)

You can't buy items for other people yet, and nor can you gift the in-game currency (though this is to come). But throw $5 / £4 their way, and they'll have enough to get this thing locked and loaded.

Star Wars: The Old Republic - Mask of Nihilus

Yes, your TOR character can now sport the same facial accessory as Knights of the Old Republic 2's infamous villain, and possibly the scariest Sith Lord of all time: Darth Nihilus. The item is cosmetic, so it won't actually have any stats until you slot some mods into it. On the plus side, this will let you keep wearing it and upgrading the mods as new content comes out, so it will never become obsolete due to low stats.

Currently, it's a pretty rare drop from Crime Lord's Cartel Packs , which are about $4 each in Cartel Coins. But if you don't manage to get one, you can just send your friends the pack of Mountain Lizardbats you've accumulated. Because it's the thought that counts, right?

Item available in-game for $4 / £2.50. In-game currency available from the SWTOR store .

Guild Wars 2: Aviator Sunglasses

What's a polite way to tell a friend that their Guild Wars 2 character just isn't enough of a stylin' boss this winter? Buy them a pair of these bad boys. They'll keep the harshest rays Tyria can throw at you out of your eyes, and you'll be having to beat back admirers with a stick everywhere you go. It's like turning your avatar into a public quest called "I Bet You Can't Get With This." Awwwwww yeah!

Item available in-game for $2 / £1.60.

Peripherals and desktop items

There comes a time in every gamer's life, usually coinciding with the annual giving of gifts, where all sense of scale goes out the window. The notion of cost is secondary to the dull, desirous throb at the centre of your soul. "But I WANT it," it seems to throb out in morse code. Go on, give in to your capitalist gland.

Logitech G400

Defy the muscle-paralysing agony of gamer-claw with this fine Logitech mouse. There's no need to drop a tonne of cash unless you want something ludicrously over-featured: this offers classic Logitech style in a brand-new design, and with a sensitivity of 3600dpi, it's comfortable and precise.

Logitech: $50 / £31.30

Cyborg Gaming AmBX lights

"OMG, your wall is, like, glowing." It's the oddest add-on, a lighting system that reacts to your game's colouring, and splashes on the wall behind your monitor. It even comes with sunscreen for when you play Far Cry 3.

Cyborg Gaming: $99 / £90

Razer Deathstalker

What does a keyboard need? No, not keys. No, not the board. No-one likes a literal smarty pants. It needs a customisable LCD keys and a programmable screen exactly where the keypad should be, so you can use it to control things, like music players or WoW buff bars.

Razerzone: $250 / £230

Saitek PRO Flight Multi Panel

There is joy to be had in the ancient but still loved Flight Simulator X, particularly if you augment it with this clicky, switchy flight panel. It lets you ignore the keyboard and make changes to your in-game plane from your desktop . Just like, er, the keyboard.

Saitek: $150 / £130

Corepad Deskpad

You know what your keyboard is missing? A mousemat beneath it. It sounds strange, but I swear this mousemat that covers most of the desk is one of my favourite purchases. It keeps the desk soft, for mouse slams, and you'll never worry about going off the edge, unless you're Stretchy McArmlong.

Corepad: $31 / £25

Miscellaneous gadgetry

Ah, the "misc" category. Like your glue-eating little brother at school, the things in here don't really fit in anywhere. And yet they exert some sort of amazing, magical pull that you can't resist. The pull of a good piece of tat is fairly inescapable, probably because 90% of tat is made with magnets.

Minecraft Fridge Magnets

Wizards make magnets, Notch made Minecraft. Therefore these Minecraft magnets prove that Notch is a wizard. Worship him by covering your fridge in magnetic Minecraft blocks. I hope a Creeper doesn't get in and explode the eggs!

Think Geek: $19 / £12

Diablo 3 Night Light

DO NOT FRET, CHILD. NOTHING WILL HARM YOU IN THE NIGHT, UNLESS IT WANTS TO SUFFER THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF TORMENT AND DESPAIR. I, THE DIABLO 3 NIGHTLIGHT, WILL LOOK AFTER YOU. A COOCHY-COOCHY-COO.

Blizzard store: $19 / £13

Tetris Light

Let there be light. Tetrissy shaped light. The concept is high with this one, enabling you to swap blocks around and reconfigure the light as you want, and the more blocks you add the brighter it gets. You had me at "Tetris Ligh - ".

Firebox: $48 / £30

Portal 2 Book Ends

Have you written several volumes of Portal 2 fan-fic? If so, you might be needing something to keep those books neatly together. Now some people dip kittens in wax and arrange them on the shelf, but those in the know will instead just buy these Red and Blue portal bookends.

Think Geek: $30 / £19

Aperture Combustible Lemon Mug

We can't improve on Valve's product description: "When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade - make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons! What am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager. Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons. Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I'm going to get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"

Valve store: $15 / £9.40

Nike SportWatch

Exercising for its inherent benefits is sooo last decade. The Nike SportWatch has inherent appeal to the gaming generation: it has achievements! But really, we genuinely like this wrist-GPS for its data logging capabilities—runs logged outdoors are tracked via satellite, and a USB tab embedded in the watch lets you upload the data to your PC when you're done. Nike's free website elegantly collects your run routes and times, outputting them via Google Maps and even showing how fast you were going at which point. For the metrics-obsessed, it's the best way of using technology to visualize and understand your effort as a jogger, short of having some sort of encouraging robot coach.

Nike store: $150 / £95

Pelican ProGear U105 Urban Laptop backpack

Traveling with a gaming laptop is never a dull moment. What force of nature (or inconsiderate mortal) will wreak havoc on your godlike, gold-plated portable PC? Laptops need a shield that'll protect them—one they can sleep in securely, and one that's practical enough for daily use. Pelican's U105 is sturdy and (surprisingly) slimmer than ordinary backpacks. Crucially, an impact-protective frame inside the pack hugs laptops and tablets, defending against ordinary collisions and vibrations and probably minor motorcycle accidents. Protect your gaming investment.

Pelican Store: $140 / £88

Pelican HardBack Case

For an alternative (or double) layer of protection, try a Pelican HardBack case —a rugged-yet-lightweight shell for laptops between 14 and 15.6 inches that can shrug off crushing, impact, and immersion in up to three feet of water. Even the surliest of airport worker will not ruin your day.

Pelican store: $86-125 / £53-78

Absurd Luxury Items

Boy, this escalated quickly. There might be one or two of you who can afford a private island, and for those that can might I point out you're looking particularly attractive. You must be working out. For those that can only look on this stuff and dream, fear not. I hear it on good authority that "money isn't everything" and that things are fine "as long you still have your health". My friends from school keep saying so on their Facebook statuses.

Samsung MD Monitors

If you rock more than one monitor, you'll be a hater of the bevels. The answer to that hatred is these specially designed monitors from Samsung, mounted together with thin edges to allow you to take to six-screen gaming like a duck to Walter. What? Yes, you're right. Water makes much more sense.

Samsung: 6 together on a mount is $4,400 / £3000

T1 Simulator

This motion simulator comes with configurations that let you select cars or planes, a 180 degree screen and projector. All you need is a PC and a copy of the original GTA, to ironically play a top-down driving game in a motion-capable chassis.

MotionSimulation.com: $27,000 / £16,500

bitplay BANG!

The best lamp, EVER! Right, so when you want to turn this lamp off you have to shoot it with a gun peripheral and it'll play dead. That means it'll slump forward and switch off. This is a brilliant idea and nothing can go wrong.

Dynamism.com: $300 / £187

Dota 2: Demon Edge Sword

In-game items are better out of game, which is why Valve have allowed Weta to build the Demon's Edge sword, a real fricking sword from Dota 2. It comes with a wall bracket, so you don't need train a child to hold it up for display purposes.

Weta Workshop: $300 / £187

TriForce Mass Effect 3 Predator

If your neighbour has bought that Dota 2 sword, you can one-up him with this replica gun from Mass Effect 3, the M3 Predator Red. Sure, it's not a real gun, but it costs more than the sword, and it can be used to roleplay robberies at your local bank. Just call ahead to make sure they're cool with it.

Project TriForce: $400 / £252

Koro Island

Go on, indulge yourself. For only 25 million, you can have Koro Island in the South Pacific. What good is it to a gamer, you ask? Have you ever played Just Cause 2 and wondered how accurate it is? Well now you'll know.

Private Islands Online: $25,000,000 / £15,768,900

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