The following gifts might take a little legwork to research and execute, but I promise you, your giftee is tired of receiving video game coffee mugs and Funko Pops. As the gift-giver, you'll die inside if you see the dead-eyed, emotionless "thank you, that's so great" from a giftee who has to make room for yet another Zelda mug in their cupboard. Themed nerd socks are out. No one wants another copy of Settlers of Catan. Posters of their favorite game are fine... but they're not excellent. Shop for the following instead. (Editor's note: We've mostly omitted store and price info since these gifts are highly customizable and can be purchased from numerous sources. However, please shop local when possible.)
Go look at your loved one's keyboard. Does it look boring? No? Are there lights, clacking, and special colors? If your giftee's keyboard looks certified-unboring, you might have a mechanical keyboard enthusiast on your gifting list. Browse Etsy and Drop for cute keycaps. Your giftee only needs one or two. Artsy keycaps are somewhat impractical and can realistically only be installed over rarely-used keys (looking at you, tilde).
Lost in the sauce while browsing the thousands of options? Look at their game and book shelf for characters or themes. Still not finding inspiration? Go with food. Everyone loves waffles and, by golly, there are some pretty cute caps that look absolutely edible. Prices vary
UNTITLED GOOSE GAME KEY HOLDER
The titular goose from Untitled Goose Game committed famous crimes carrying a variety of weapons in his petite beak. Now, his strong chompers are out to snatch up our precious belongings. An Untitled Goose Game key holder utilizes a magnet to secure anything from keys to paperclips, actual knives to any number of small-to-medium metal treasures.
Mostly funny and somewhat practical, this key-holding goose trinket is a fun nod to fans of the game. Even if your giftee hasn't played Untitled Goose Game, the goose has reached Holy Meme Status and is known by all. Your giftee doesn't even need to know memes. The elderly leaned on kitschy goose decor to sustain them through the '90s and shouldn't stop now. $20-$30 on Etsy
ELDEN RING (RATED M, XBOX ONE/X/S, PS4/5)
Every generation needs an epic hero's journey fantasy game. Millennials had Skyrim. Today, Gen Z can lay claim to Elden Ring's sweeping landscapes, humongous scope, thrilling enemies and stunning story. Gameplay evolves organically without hints, big red exclamation points, or ceaseless exposition. Forget the hand-holding of the past. This is a new, open world where you engineer your own experience and adventure. Consider skipping this game for children due to violence/gore and high challenge. Elden Ring tests anger management skills and a dauntless attention span. Writer George R.R. Martin and creator Hidetaka Miyazaki constructed this magnificent game together. With Martin's star-power name in the credits, Elden Ring was destined to be pretty good. Fortunately, it ended up being super great. $60
CONTROLLER SKIN WITH WEDDING PHOTO
Frustrated by a partner that spends hours holed up in their gaming den? Wish you could fondly reminisce over your wedding on the daily? Plaster some wedding photos on a video game controller skin. Your partner will now (be forced to) gaze into your eyes every time they pick up their game. Make sure to double-check their controller make and model before placing your online order. Warning: This reads as either "clingy" or "hilarious" depending on the current state of your relationship. If you're concerned your partner might find this overbearing, consider couple's therapy instead. Prices vary
META QUEST PRO HEADSET
Is your giftee a bleeding-edge tech babe who likes to grab new gadgets the nanosecond after they drop? If so, they'll be into Facebook's recent shift to Meta and might be itching to get a hold on the Meta Quest Pro headset. Meta acquired and expanded upon Oculus VR technology. The Meta Quest headset isn't super new, but the Pro brings some upgrades that are worth looking into if you spend enough time online (in a grimly foretold future where society's exclusive online interaction speeds the atrophy of our flesh and bones).
If you peel back the case, the Meta Quest Pro has more chip-power, memory, and pixels. VR headsets are like phones — higher numbers relating to hardware equals more cred amongst peers (in a world where society will split between those in VR and those who are not, furthering the divide between wealthy and the poor). $1,500
STEERING WHEEL CONTROLLER
Bump up the realism of your giftee's in-game drive experience with a steering wheel controller. This gift requires research. Collect these four facts before continuing.
- Do they play driving games? This gift only matters for gamers actively racing.
- What console do they have? You must purchase a matching controller for the console.
- Do their feet reach the ground? Steering wheel controllers often come with floor pedals and brakes.
- Do they have a driver's license? Minors under driving age might seriously be tempted to illegally hop behind the wheel after grasping this realistic controller. Prices vary
18 WHEELS OF STEEL: EXTREME TRUCKER 2 (RATED E, PC)
Did you just buy a steering wheel controller for your PC gamer? Consider throwing in any long haul trucking simulator (the 18 Wheels of Steel franchise is a winner alongside American Truck Simulator). This gift puts humor over practicality. Released in 2011, this game is not new. However, your tongue will be shoved up so hard against your moist cheek, your giftee will be obliged into a chuckle. $10
STRAY (RATED E, PLAYSTATION 5, PLAYSTATION 4, MICROSOFT WINDOWS)
Futuristic and fluffy! Adventure through a cyberpunk world as the main character cat of this spunky platformer. As a kitty, you must free a civilization of trapped robots. (Take that capitalism!) Stray really leans into the fact that as a cat, you are tiny, nimble, love scratching things, and enjoy a good nap. Small detail aside, dedicating a button for on-demand meows is a highlight. Stray also gives you a break on some of the more frustrating components of precise movement. Cats don't miss jumps and neither do you, removing the frustration that comes with missing narrow hops on tight ledges. Light puzzles are a treat and Stray doesn't spend a huge amount of time backtracking. Does your giftee want something cute and casual? Stray is a great gift to land on. $30