The holidays are fast approaching, which means it’s time to get a jump on those shopping lists. And if you have family or friends that are really into video games, now is the best time to take advantage of sales and discounts to snag truly awesome gifts. Retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart, and Newegg are running early Black Friday sales, which means big discounts on gaming laptops and desktops, digital game codes, components like CPUs and graphics cards, and more. It also means discounts on big-ticket items like arcade cabinets, game tables, and racing sim rigs. And if you need last-minute or stocking stuffer ideas, you can always opt for a gift card for digital game titles or in-game currency.
To help you knock out your shopping list, and make yourself the coolest gift giver of the season, I’ve put together a truly massive list of gaming gift ideas that are perfect for all ages. I worked in everything from everyday carry items and board games to console accessories and even books! You can keep reading below to find perfect gifts for everyone on your list.
The best gaming gift ideas for the holidays
Below are 24 gaming gift ideas I found for the holiday season this year.
- Price: $80
- Tech specs or features: GPS tracking | Phone tracking | Flashlight
The KeySmart Max is the ultimate keychain for tech enthusiasts. Not only can it hold up to 14 different keys, it also has a combination bottle opener/flathead screwdriver, and you can attach USB drives to take game save files with you when you want to game with friends at their house.
The KeySmart Max has built-in Tile tracking which connects to your phone’s GPS so you can find your keys no matter where you misplace them; and you can also use the fob to find your missing phone. The integrated flashlight is also helpful for opening doors in the dark or extra light when troubleshooting PC and console issues. The flashlight is powered by an integrated, rechargeable battery that gives you up to 60 days of use on a full charge.
- Price: $65
- Tech specs or features: Block 65% of blue light | Unisex | Weight: 33 grams
PC, mobile, and console gamers spend a lot of time focused on screens, and it’s doubly true if they have a desk job during the day. And protecting your eyes from blue light that can cause strain and discomfort is important, which is where the Gunnar Intercept glasses come in.
These lightweight, amber tint glasses block up to 65 percent of harmful blue light. This means that you can game all day or night in comfort (though we do recommend taking breaks to stretch, eat, and hydrate), as well as tackle your everyday work with reduced risk of eye strain. The Intercept glasses feature a classic design and weigh in at just 33 grams, making them lightweight enough to wear all day. And the frames are also sized just right to be comfortable enough to wear with a headset or if you have a larger head.
- Price: $15
- Tech specs or features: Supports PAL and NTSC formats | Compact design | USB power
We all love our modern, 4K, smart televisions. But if you’re a retro video game collector, they aren’t exactly great for playing old N64 or Sega Genesis/MegaDrive games. An RCA to HDMI converter lets you connect older consoles to modern TVs in seconds. You plug your HDMI cable from the TV into one end and the A/V or RCA connections from your console into the other. You can also use the switch on the side to choose between 720p and 1080p resolution to get bold colors and crisper outlines for older game graphics. It also uses a USB cable to draw power from your TV rather than needing a DC outlet, which helps keep your gaming space organized and free of trip hazards.
- Price: $15
- Tech specs or features: 126 pieces | Magnetic bits | Hardened steel tools
Retro game collectors often need specialized tools to clean, refurbish, and repair old consoles, controllers, and game cartridges. The Kaisi precision screwdriver set has 126 tools with different cross sections like star, cross, and triangle driver bits for opening up older consoles and games for repair and cleaning.
It also includes a precision driver handle to prevent over-tightening that can damage delicate and aging plastics, a flexible driver neck for getting into awkward spaces, and a magnetic chuck so you don’t lose minuscule screws. The entire set comes in a convenient, zippered carrying case to keep all of the driver bits, handles, and cleaning tools in one place for quicker and easier repairs to your retro game systems and cartridges.
- Price: $7, trade paperback
- For fans of: The Witcher (games, Netflix series), Dragon Age (series), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Fans of The Witcher games by CDProjekt Red probably have seen the Netflix series, but may not know about the original novels. Written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, Blood of Elves covers the events of the first season of the Netflix series as well as the first video game: Geralt has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child who will have the power to change the world for good or for evil. The Witcher must protect the child from people who would hurt her or use her for nefarious means, but Geralt must also work with Yennifer and other allies to navigate tense political landscapes to prevent an all-out war.
There are six Witcher novels altogether, each having Geralt, Yennifer, Jaskier, and other beloved characters take on fearsome monsters, corrupt politicians, and ancient evils to protect each other as well as the world.
- Price: $12, paperback
- For fans of: Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder
While Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series has never been adapted as video games, it has gotten a great Prime Video series. And if you haven’t seen or read them, but are curious, the first book in series, The Eye of the World, is an excellent sword-and-sorcery adventure for fantasy RPG fans. Similar to Lord of the Rings, TEotW follows our reluctant protagonist, Rand al’Thor as he’s suddenly thrust into a world of magic and monsters. With the help of his friends and the mysterious Moiraine of the Aes Sedai (a governing body of powerful sorceresses), Rand must face his destiny and save the world from being swallowed by evil.
- Price: $7, paperback
- For fans of: Female-led stories, Outer Wilds, Metroid (franchise)
A Wrinkle in Time
is the first, and most well-known, entry in Madeleine L’Engel’s Time Quintet series. It follows Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (Meg’s acquaintance from school) as they journey through space and different dimensions to find Meg and Charles Wallace’s father. The kids are guided by the enigmatic Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit as they unravel the mysteries of time and space and uncover the horrors of playing with things even adults don’t understand.
- Price: $5, trade paperback
- For fans of: Sea of Thieves, Return to Monkey Island, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
This classic tale of piracy and high-seas adventure from Robert Louis Stevenson has seen dozens of adaptations over the years (including the vastly superior Muppet Treasure Island), as well as serving as inspiration for countless other stories. Fans of games like Sea of Thieves and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will love following young Jim Hawkins as he escapes a life of hardship and poverty by joining up with a ship’s crew on a quest to find the legendary lost treasure of the evil pirate Captain Flint. But not all is as it seems, and Jim Hawkins gets caught up in a deadly game of keep-away as he must decide if his loyalties lie with the honorable Captain Smollet or the cunning Long John Silver.
- Price: $48
- For fans of: Stardew Valley, Oregon Trail, RTS games
The Settlers of Catan, also known as just Catan, is a very popular tabletop strategy game in a similar vein to the Civilization video games and farming sims like Stardew Valley. Up to 4 players compete to collect resources, reveal the map, and build a society to dominate the island of Catan. And if it seems daunting, don’t worry: you and your friends can learn to play Catan in as little as 15 minutes and finish a full game in about an hour. And once you’ve mastered the base game, you can check out one of the four expansions that allow you to add more players, take to the sea, or build an army of knights to defend your territory.
- Price: $36
- For fans of: Dead by Daylight, Among Us, Call of Cthulu, Roguelike games
If you want to add some spine-tingling scares to game nights with friends, you should definitely check out Betrayal at House on the Hill. Up to 6 players work together to solve the mysteries of The House. But be warned: there’s a traitor in your midst, and the rest of the players will have to unite to defeat the imposter and escape the haunted house before it’s too late. The game includes 6 detailed player models as well as 50 scenario cards and 42 room tiles. Players build unique maps as they explore The House, and combine scenario cards to weave complex narratives; and the mix-and-match gameplay means that no two sessions will be the same.
- Price: $30
- For fans of: Return of the Obra Dinn, L.A. Noire, Disco Elysium
If you’ve got to find a gift for the gamer in your life that’s also a true crime fan, Hunt a Killer’s Death at the Dive bar mystery game is a great option. This self-contained mystery gives you everything you need to solve a murder, either on your own or with friends. The box set includes realistic props like news clippings, photos, and handwritten letters to make you really feel like a detective. Death at the Dive Bar is on the easier side, which means you can solve the puzzle in about an hour. But if you’re looking for more of a challenge, Hunt a Killer offers more difficult standalone games as well as a subscription service where you get new clues for a more in-depth mystery every month.
- Price: $40
- For fans of: Lord of the Rings, Dragon Age (franchise), Shadowrun
It’s no secret that Dungeons and Dragons has had a sort of renaissance in recent years thanks to shows like Critical Role and Dimension 20. And if you know someone who is interested in playing but doesn’t know where to start, you can pick up the 5th edition starter set! This kit includes everything you need to start learning the basics of D&D: a set of seven dice, rule books, a Dungeon Master screen, and five pre-generated characters. And once you have a grasp on the basics, you can head over to DnD Beyond to check out new adventure modules, monster manuals, and player guides as well as a rich community of homebrew content for custom home games.
- Price: $36
- For fans of: Dungeons and Dragons (franchise), Vampire: The Masquerade (franchise), Warhammer
Pathfinder is another big tabletop RPG similar to Dungeons & Dragons, and the 2nd edition Beginner Box is a great gift for anyone looking to expand their TTRPG options. It comes with everything you need to get started: rule books, dice, character and monster tokens, and pre-generated characters. Pathfinder is separate from D&D, but should be familiar enough for an easy transition to a new ruleset and game setting. And when you’ve gotten a good grasp on the basics, you can pick up new modules and player manuals from bookstores, game shops, or check the official site to see if there’s a group near you looking for new players or a new game master!
- Price: $450
- 2 games included | Riser and stool included | 4 player co-op
This cabinet from Arcade1Up is the ultimate gift for anyone who grew up going to arcades or loves retro gaming. It not only includes the titular Turtles in Time game, but you’ll also get access to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade title as well! The cabinet also includes a riser for more height and a TMNT-branded stool for more comfortable gameplay. You can have up to four players in simultaneous co-op play to take down the Foot Clan, Krang, and Master Shredder, and the 17-inch screen recreates classic graphics with bold colors and crisp outlines.
- Price: $600
- Adjustable height | Classic tilt and nudge functions | LCD screen
Pinball is a classic arcade offering that’s as exciting for bystanders as it is for players, and the Marvel digital pinball machine from Arcade1Up gives the old-school game a much-needed modernization. The 24-inch LCD screen displays the playing field, eliminating the need to hunt down specialized repair shops if something goes awry. And even though the game is digitized, you’ll still get authentic tilt and nudge functions to make trick shots and rack up high scores.
- Price: $355
- For fans of: 2 players | Folds for storage | 8 game modes
This two-player basketball game from ESPN is similar to classic offerings you’d find in arcades or even places like Chuck E. Cheese. It comes with four miniature basketballs and includes eight different game modes for different challenges: Beat the clock, three-point beat the clock, Horse, Battle Back, Check Point, Around the World, Left-Right-Shoot, and One-on-One. The 43-by-20.5-inch steel frame gives the game stability and durability while still being able to fold up for easier, more compact storage if your game room or rec room is short on space.
- Price: $255
- 12 games and activities | Compact design | Great for older kids and teens
If you know someone with a game or rec room that’s short on space, the MD Sports 12-in-1 game table is a great gift idea. You’ll get classic game offerings like foosball, air hockey, and ping pong along with board games like chess, checkers, and backgammon. The table measures 48x38x23 inches, making it compact enough for even the smallest of bedrooms or rec rooms. It also includes a handy carrying bag for all of your game pieces and accessories so nothing gets lost when not in use.
- Price: $200
- 7 or 10 panels | Control app | Unlimited customization
We featured the Govee Hexa Glide RGB light panels in our best lights for streaming list, but they’re also great for ambient and mood lighting in game rooms. You can choose either a seven or 10-panel kit to create custom lighting configurations and designs, while the companion smartphone app gives you total control over brightness, lighting patterns, and colors. The kit includes everything you need to hang the light panels on a wall or door, and the app has a handy guide video for making sure everything is connected properly.
- Price: $10-100
- Use to buy games or add-on content | Never expires | Safer than debit/credit cards
Need a last minute gift or stocking stuffer? You can always opt for an Xbox gift card, especially if the gamer you’re buying for likes to purchase games for themselves at launch. You can choose denominations from as low as $10 to $100. The best part is that funds added to your account never expire, so you can save up for that big release everyone is excited for or to buy a bunch of titles during promotional sales. Gift cards are also a safe way to add funds to your child’s account, that way they don’t misuse or misplace your debit or credit card information.
- Price: $10-100
- Variable pricing | Can be used for pre-orders | Never expires
Like Xbox users, PlayStation loyalists can add funds to their account with gift cards. You can get them in denominations from $10 to $100, and like Xbox cards, they can be used to purchase games and add-on content; you can also use a PlayStation gift card for pre-orders of new titles.
- Price: $10-99
- Variable pricing | Never expires | Safe for kids to add funds
Got a Nintendo Switch user you don’t know what to gift? You can always opt for a Nintendo eShop card. These gift cards can be purchased for anywhere between $10 and $99, and are a great way to safely add funds to your child’s account for purchasing games, add-on content, and preorders.
- Price: $20-100
- Windows, Mac, and Linux games | Variable pricing | Never expires
PC gamers aren’t left out when it comes to gift cards. You can pick up a Steam Wallet gift card for a last-minute gift or stocking stuffer, which allows gamers to add funds to their account in order to purchase games and DLC content. It comes in $20, $30, $50, and $100 denominations so you can cover the cost of that one game they really, really want or a couple of games throughout the year. Like other gift cards, funds added to your account never expire and are a great way to add money to your kids’ accounts so they don’t accidentally buy $1,000 worth of loot boxes.
- Price: $10-200
- In-game currency | Used for in-game content | Safer than debit/credit cards
If your kids are fans of Roblox, you know that they are going to want money for Robux at some point. Robux are an in-game currency, which means that you pay real money for points you can use to buy character skins or game items. And if you don’t want your kids to pester you for your credit or debit card, you can pick up a Robux gift card. You can get them in denominations from $10 to $200, and once they’re redeemed, your Robux never expire. These cards are an easy and safe way to add funds to your kids’ accounts so they don’t rack up charges for popular in-game items.
- Price: $8-80
- In-game currency | Used for skins, emotes, and items | Never expires
Fortnite is one of the biggest games on the planet, and it’s especially popular with teens and older kids. If you know someone who really loves Fortnite, you can pick up a V-Bucks gift card as a holiday present. V-Bucks are an in-game currency that allow you to buy player skins, emotes, and items, and you can use the gift cards to safely add limited funds to accounts. Once added to your account, your V-Bucks won’t expire, and since there’s a finite amount, you won’t have to worry about surprise charges in your card statements when your kids start snapping up limited edition Goku skins or TikTok dance emotes.
The best gaming deals during the holidays
Below are five gaming deals I found happening right now.
I purposely avoided putting games, consoles, and PCs in this gift guide since they can be exceptionally expensive (in the case of PCs and laptops), difficult to find (like PS5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles), or whoever you’re buying for has probably purchased for themselves.
I did, however, do my best to include accessories, gift cards, and big-ticket items as well as books and board games for a variety of gift options for kids, teens, and adults.
Personally, I would hold off buying actual games for anyone. Mostly because a gamer is likely to buy an anticipated title for themselves at launch, rather than wait to receive it as a birthday or holiday gift (unless they’re a kid who doesn’t have the means to do so). Rather, I would opt for tangentially related things like books with similar themes to favorite games, board games, or even gift cards if you need stocking stuffer ideas.
I am a firm believer that any room with a game in it is a “game room,” but if you want a dedicated space for console, PC, or arcade gaming, it’s best to choose a large space like a basement or unused bedroom. If you want that old-school arcade feel, Arcade1Up offers authentic (yet modernized) game cabinets and pinball tables. Or you can choose a 12-in-1 game table for foosball, billiards, and air hockey all in one place.
You’ll also want to invest in comfortable furniture for your game room, since desk chairs, stools, and bean bags aren’t so great for long-term lounging.
It’s difficult to come up with a gift idea with that “wow factor” that is sure to surprise the gamer you need to buy for. However, rather than springing for a big-ticket item like an arcade cabinet or new console, you can opt for things related to their interest in gaming; think books or movies with similar stories and themes, art based on favorite characters or games, or real-life experiences like paintball and escape rooms.
If you live in the US or Canada, you know that all video games are rated by the ESRB. But what is it? ESRB stands for the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which is a self-regulatory, non-profit organization that assigns ratings to video games, similar to what you see in movies. It was established in 1994 in response to media and government attention centered on violent and sexually graphic games, especially after the 1993 congressional hearings on the Night Trap and Mortal Kombat games. The purpose of these ratings is to create a sort of quality control and ethical guidelines for game developers, publishers, and buyers to follow.
The ESRB uses 6 age-based levels for game ratings:
- E for Everyone (equivalent to a G-rated film)
- E10+ (similar to a PG movie)
- T for Teen (similar to PG-13)
- M for Mature (roughly equivalent to an R-rated film)
- Adults Only (which is roughly equivalent to NC-17)
A game that is rated “Adults Only” isn’t necessarily what you think it means (though there are plenty of those), but rather that the game’s content is not at all appropriate for anyone under the age of 18; whether it be excessive violence and gore or extreme sexual content. It’s an exceptionally rare rating since almost all online and brick-and-mortar retailers refuse to stock games with an AO rating due to their controversial themes and gameplay.
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