For all of us hardcore gamers in the know, the months of October, November and December are glorious weeks full of nonstop triple-A releases and the death of our non-online social lives. But what are those of you who might not know the industry, despite having gamer friends and family, to do? Easy. I'm going to help you with a few suggestions, and I've arranged them into age-appropriate groups.
I'd like to start by saying something to the moms of the world: Stop buying your young kids horrendously violent games! While I don't subscribe to that "violent games breed violent kids" philosophy, there's no reason your children should be watching eviscerations of people burning alive. How about you do a little research, avoid gory titles (sorry, kids…I know you want 'em badly, but it's too much for you!) and pick up the brand new Nintendo Wii U (Deluxe Set, $349.99; Standard Set, $299.99)? Nintendo's newest console boasts an 8" touch-screen imbedded within its controller and newly implemented HD capability. While there are plenty of violent options (Black Ops 2, ZombieU, Assassin's Creed 3), new entries in the Super Mario and Rayman franchises are perfect for kids and still a blast for the hardcore contingent. We hear GameStop has already sold out of preorders, but according to Nintendo's website, many retailers will have the new console available just so long as you don't mind standing in line. Xbox 360's Kinect (w/Kinect Adventures, $109.99) is perfect for kids, with plenty of age-appropriate titles and the added benefit of getting us up and off the couch. Check out Kinect Star Wars ($49.99) or The Gunstringer.
Older kids—also known as teens—will love you forever so long as you listen to me carefully and do exactly as I say: You will buy them either Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Halo 4 or Assassin's Creed 3. Hell, they've probably already begged you for them (and logged dozens of hours playing them at their friends' houses). Please note that Halo 4 is an Xbox 360 exclusive, so you'll want to double-check on whether or not your kid's rockin' that or a Play Station 3. Hitman: Absolution is out on both consoles as of now (it's obscenely violent) and Far Cry 3 hits stores just before Christmas (also obscenely violent).
So maybe you're a little older and you just read some of the teenager suggestions and said, "But I want all those games, too!" I get it, but for you I've got just one suggestion that's a little more, uh, cerebral. I'm talkin' developer Telltale Games' Walking Dead series. All 5 episodes of the insanely well-written emotional point-'n'-click masterpiece are available to download at five bucks apiece from XBLA, PSN and the iOS App Store, but they're also going physical in both a standard edition ($29.99) and the GameStop exclusive Collector's Edition ($69.99) which comes packaged with the series and a hardback compendium of the comic's first 48 issues. A-mazing.
Oh, and before I forget, I'm going to recommend making GameStop (2010 Cerrillos Road, Ste. G, 424-8621) the one place to shop for games in Santa Fe. Oh sure, Hastings and Walmart and Target sell games, but with GameStop's more than reasonable used-game prices and fantastic rewards program, you'll be hard-pressed to do any better. Just remember that not all games are created equal, and it's always better to do some homework in an effort to avoid that sad look on your loved one's face when they open up some sucky crap and have to feign gratitude. Happy holidays, nerds! I'll see you online…
Wanna challenge Alex De Vore to some games? Friend him on Xbox (orale zombers) or PSN (sad-sack-forever).