Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gifts for Geeks: Putting a Bow on It

I'd say it's about time we wrapped up (HA!) this year's edition of Gifts for Geeks, wouldn't you? Though not as comprehensive as in years past, the 2011 edition of GfG has been quite a bit of fun to write.

And I think we can all agree that the most useful--and best written--entry was by guest poster extraordinaire and wife of Nathaniel extraordinaire, neko-chan, with her rundown of Gifts for Geekettes.

Today, though, we'd like to do something just a little bit different. See, we haven't really been all that great about giving specific gift suggestions this year, and we'd like to change that with today's post.

We'll handle this quick-hits style, though, as we have been more than thorough in years past. (No, really, we have.)

So here we go.

Choose ONE gift for each of the following people/categories (And Nathaniel, ONE means ONE):

A sibling or friend who wants to get into [fandom of your choice]

ALEX: Well, we all know I'm gonna take comics, so let's just get it over with. When you're buying comics for someone who is just trying to feel his or her way into the medium, there are several directions you can take.

Personally, I would suggest foregoing the obvious routes of buying "evergreen" titles such as Alan Moore's Watchmen or Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.

Alternately, hoisting your own favorite series--no matter how great that series may be--upon your unsuspecting gift recipient might not be the best approach, either. Obviously, tastes vary, and even though I would ideally buy everyone on my list the first volume of Eric Powell's The Goon, I know that brand of humor might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Though I'm not sure you'd be my friend if you didn't like The Goon.

Anyway, instead of going in either of those directions, I would try to figure out what the recipient likes--outside of comics, I mean--and work from there.

For example, fans of the Firefly or Buffy TV series might enjoy the series of graphic novels put out by Dark Horse featuring "canon" stories for each of those shows. With stories by Joss Whedon himself and other writers from both series, you really can't go wrong by picking these up for fans of the shows.

But don't limit your choices to favorite TV shows or movies. If you know the person is a fan of horror novels, try Hellboy from Dark Horse or Locke & Key from IDW.

Also, since DC has relaunched their entire line of books, it's never been a better time to get in on the ground floor of their universe. You can pick up single issues from the New 52--still at their $2.99 cover price--and give a grab bag of titles.

NATHANIEL: I suppose that just leaves video games then, huh? If you have a particular game series or genre in mind, collections and variety packs are a great way to go.

Complete compilations such as the Space Quest Collection offer a convenient way to play an entire series without tracking down individual games (and, depending on the collection, individual systems). As an added bonus, compilations allow the player to start with whichever game is most up their alley in terms of difficulty, plot, graphics, etc., and that can go a long way in securing a dedicated fanboy or fangirl. I like Final Fantasy well enough, but some of the installments I've played more recently might have turned me off to the series if they had been all I had to start with, no matter how much other people might've wanted me to like them.

Digital distribution is making it easier than ever to get games you like into the (virtual) sweaty palms of the gamers you love. There's no imposition of required shelf space, and game bundles such as The Humble Indie Bundle make an ideal gift for someone who is looking to expand their gaming horizons without necessarily jumping on board with a series. Also worth mentioning are the retro game packages featuring absurd numbers of lost games from the heyday of companies such as Atari and Sega...though many of these "classics" have gone out of circulation for a reason.

Even if just one game out of the entire collection gets any kind of serious play time, you'll have a successful gift on your hands, not to mention a better idea of what your gift recipient's taste in games is like for the next time you give a gift.

Something for the hardcore fan of [inset fandom]

Alex: I was going to go with music on this one, but...well, just look below for Nathaniel's entry. Beat me to it, Flashman. Ah, well. I guess it's more comics, then.

Anyone who runs (or walks, wheezingly) in geek circles knows how hard it is to find a gift for a fellow fanatic. Mostly because it's tough to know exactly what he or she already owns.

This is especially tough when it comes to comics, because most collections are stocked are stored away in a closet, in boxes and hidden from the world.

For me, I've taken to getting fellow comics fans gift certificates to either brick and mortar shops or online stores, original art (it's one of a kind and can be quite a personal present, especially if you order a commission specifically for that person!), or I've simply broken down and asked the recipient if he or she already has something that I'm thinking about buying.

That makes it easy, you see, and I honestly don't think comics fans mind when you "ruin the surprise" of a gift. It's like a good spoiler. The way most fans look at it, it's better to get something you want, rather than to get something you already have.

This goes both ways, of course, as comic books can be rare, expensive, or simply difficult to find for the gift buyer.

So that's my story. How about you, Flashy?

Nathaniel: How about we go with music this time? Tickets to see someone's favorite band in concert are hard to turn down, unless you've overlooked any egregious logistical issues (I.e.: "Hey, guess what! I got you and your smelly Uncle Dingus tickets to see Blues Traveler in Reykjavík next November! Guess you'd better cancel your wedding and buy some plane tickets, huh?").

[Editor's--uh, Alex's Note--uh, Alex's Interruption: "smelly Uncle Dingus"?]

Good concert tickets are often expensive, time-sensitive, and annoying to order. In other words, simply going to the trouble of getting concert tickets is as much a gift as giving them. Keeping yourself in the loop about when someone's favorite artists are touring means you've always got a potential present on the backburner, even if it's several years before any decent opportunities come along.

A concert can be a milestone experience in someone's life, as Alex and I can attest to. I saw James Taylor; Alex saw Paul McCartney; I can guarantee you those concerts are among the coolest and most significant experiences we've ever had. Do not underestimate the profound impact of a musician on a person's life.

Concert tickets are one of the few non-edible, non-service-related gifts that can be given repeatedly without growing stale. Even seasoned concertgoers who have seen their favorite artists perform live several times over can appreciate a chance to see a different venue, and new music from the latest album. Concert tickets can become a tradition. They can be a rare surprise, too. While I wouldn't object to seeing James Taylor again, I like the idea of seeing a different artist perform every time I see a concert; the more unexpected, the better. Makes the time I saw the Village People all the more memorable.

Best [insert fandom] gift of 2011

Nathaniel: Sheesh, you act like I pay attention to anything released in the past decade. For anybody planning a Harry Potter marathon, I would think that Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection on DVD and Blu-ray would be a reasonable choice, especially given that the movies are apparently going out of circulation shortly after the holidays.

Alex: I'm gonna go on a similar path here and say that the Lord of the Rings trilogy extended edition Blu-ray is THE gift of 2011. Why? Because Amazon is selling it for $50.

Marked down from $120 bucks, if you or someone on your list doesn't yet own this, I'd say now is pretty much the best time to buy, ever. Great movies in a great package for a local convention price?

You can't beat that.

-- -- -- --

And there it is! Gifts for Geeks 2011 is all wrapped up. Let us know what you think of the new format and don't forget to give us your own gifts ideas! And for anyone who still has some shopping left before safe out there.

And tell 'em Exfanding sent ya! (And then back away, slowly, as people stare at you blankly.)

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