Last minute stress test.Christmas is looming and you don't have a gift for the gamer on your list. At this point, heartfelt is pretty much out the window. You just need something to put under the tree.
Last minute gifts tend to be stinkers, though. Combing through the dregs of whatever serious holiday shoppers have left behind usually nets nothing but trouble. And for gamers, that means they're stuck with things like Wii classic controllers and 101-in-1 Sports Party Megamix or PlayStation Move Ape Escape.
You can avoid that trap, though, by thinking digitally. PC and console gamers alike can buy all sorts of awesome games online, and since you probably don't have time to hit up a retail store, it's a great solution. Start here.
If you're shopping for a PC gamer, Steam is your best friend.
The digital distribution service lets you gift titles to others, often at a steep discount from the retail price. The service is currently offering a holiday sales with some games up to 75 percent off.
You'll need to create a Steam account of your own to give the gift, but the service will easily walk you through the set up and the gifting process. Best of all, you'll instantly have a have a huge library of game gifts to choose from, including the most recent hits. Digital titles, after all, never sell out.
Xbox Live/Wiiware points
Sometimes, you don't have a clue what to get the person on your list. The beauty of Xbox Live or Wiiware points over a generic Best Buy or GameStop gift card is they're versatile.
With Wiiware points, players can purchase downloadable new and classic games on their Wii or DS system. This often is the only way for them to be able to play older, ageless titles like Super Mario Bros. 3 on modern systems.
Xbox Live points are even more flexible, letting players buy everything from downloadable content for their favorite games to music, movies and TV shows. And unlike Steam, you don't have to buy a specific title. Xbox Live members can bank the points until whatever they want becomes available or goes on sale.
If you've got someone on your list who's hopelessly addicted to FarmVille — or any other Facebook clickfest -- this is a can't-miss gift.
The move to Facebook credits has streamlined consumer spending on the popular social networking site — and gift cards are widely available at Wal-Mart and other retailers, often with a bonus gift included.
Like Xbox Live points, Facebook points aren't locked into just games, either. More film studios are streaming movies through the site for a cost, meaning if your recipient has had their fill of a game, the money you spent still won't go to waste.
[ Related: Can Zynga break free from Facebook? (Yahoo! Finance) ]
Know someone who grouses about how much better games used to be? GOG.com — short for Good Old Games — could be their nirvana. The site is filled with classic titles like Baldur's Gate, Crusader, Wing Commander and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, all retrofitted to run on modern computers.
Sure, the graphics are outdated and they probably know how the game ends already, but the opportunity to play these revered titles again could be the surprise hit gift of the holidays. Just like Steam, GOG.com requires you to select which game you want to gift, but if you're unsure, the site lists the top-rated games chosen by players. Right now, it has over 350 titles on sale for under $5. Even if you make a wrong pick, you won't have wasted a lot of money.
Apple iTunes/App store gift card
Given how much a force the iDevice has become in the gaming world, we'd be remiss if we didn't include this go-to gift for the portable gamer. Apple gift cards, available pretty much everywhere these days, give your friend or loved one the chance to grab the latest and greatest apps (usually several of them), or download their favorite song or movie. If you're buying for someone whose tastes run more towards Angry Birds than Modern Warfare 3, this is an easy choice.