Stumped with gift ideas for your geek? Can figure out what you should ask for yourself? Then check out Nuketown’s annual gift guide, which offers suggestions from movies to MP3 players to music to books to games.
Dungeons & Dragons Chess Set
Geeks love chess. Geeks love Dungeons & Dragons So why not get your geek the Official D&D Chest Set? The metallic (good) and chromatic (evil) dragons compose the opposing armies in Wizards of the Coast’s take on the ancient game. According to Wizard’s web site (Internet Archive) the game includes “All-new variant rules add a distinctively D&D feel to the traditional chess experience.” Exactly what those rules are, I don’t know, since Wizards didn’t post them to the web site, but it does certainly kick the set’s geekiness up a notch. The game isn’t cheap — it retails for $199.95 — but it is unique.
The Space Opera Renaissance
The Space Opera Renaissance offers 944 pages of space opera goodness, featuring authors such as Edmond Hamilton, David Brin, Peter Hamilton, David Weber, Ursula K. Le Guin, Sarah Zettel, and Gregory Benford as well as many others. It spans the entire history of the genre, offering a long view of all its twists, turns and cliches, and it makes a great gift for any science fiction geek who loves to read.
Apple 1 GB iPod Shuffle Metal
The second generation of the iPod Shuffle miniaturizes the already small Shuffle into a wearable MP3 player. Perfect for geeks who find themselves spending way too much time doing home improvements (yes, geeks do home repair) or going to the gym (yeah, we do that to). Some geeks may balk at Apple’s proprietary music format, but you can always choose to ignore the online store and use MP3s instead. For me, the form factor wins out over such concerns, but your geek’s mileage may vary.
The Tick vs. Season One DVD
Eat my justice! Season 1 of The Tick cartoon is now available on DVD. Not to be confused with the lame TV show of the same name, The Tick is comic genius on a scale rarely seen in cartoons. It includes 12 episodes on two DVDs (but unfortunately does not include Episode #11 for nebulous legal reasons).
Halo 2, Vol. 2 Soundtrack
This is the soundtrack that Halo fans were looking for, featuring all of the music from the game (unlike the original soundtrack, which was a combination of game tracks and “inspired by” pop rock tracks. If your geek loves Halo, she’ll love this soundtrack.
Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t: Season 3
The comedians return to debunk modern myths once again. While not as strong as earlier seasons — there’s less debunking and more opinions — Penn and Teller remain amusing and informative, and provide a welcome alternative to the mainstream media. This time around they tackle issues such as conspiracy theories, hair, “signs from heaven”, circumcision, gun control and life coaching.
Ptolus: City by the Spire
An huge, nay, epic supplement for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playhing game. If your geek complains that his gaming group has been everywhere and seen everything, then this is definitely worth picking up. It’s an entire campaign setting, meaning that players can spend their entire adventuring lives with in its confines, and its easiler one of the largest ever published in one volume. It includes 700 pages of source material, a full-color, double-sided poster map and a CD packed with bonus material. It’s also written by Monte Cook, one of the biggest names in gaming. It’s not cheap — $119.99 — but by all accounts, it’s very much worth it.
Xbox 360 with 20GB Hard Drive
The PlayStation 3 has a load of horsepower and native high-definition support … but its impossible to buy and expensive to boot. The Nintendo Wii is easier to find … but doesn’t have the killer mature titles found on more advanced systems. The Xbox 360 falls in the sweet spot between the two, both in price (the high-end version sells for $400) and titles (it has a number of excellent next-gen titles, including the just-released and very good Gears of War). Plus, Xbox Live is hands-down the best online gaming experience around, be it for console or Windows PCs.
You want to make sure to get the incarnation of the console that includes the hard drive; it’s $100 more than the regular one, but it’s worth it — games will work better with the drive, and it allows your geek to easily download and store games, demos, and other multimedia materials (including the just-added ability to download TV shows and movies).
Gears of War (Xbox 360)
The single best game for the Xbox 360. Subterranean monsters erupt from the Earth’s surface to slaughter most of its human population. Now an elite band of soldiers — and one ex-con — try and strike back. The game’s story is straight forward, but it has an innovative and easy-to-use dock-and-cover system that makes battles far more thrilling and challenging than a conventional first-person shooter. It’s online multiplayer action is adequate, but it really shines with its online cooperative play, which lets friends battle their way through the game online.