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Plugged In

Beyond the screen: Non-game gifts for gamers

Plugged In

Narnia Island

Holiday shopping for gamers should, in theory, be an easy affair. After all, with so many titles on the market, it's just a matter of choosing the best one, right?

But there's a good chance your gamer already has a copy of what you're buying. Or, perhaps, he or she isn't a fan of the blockbuster that GameStop or Best Buy employee assured you was a surefire winner. And gift cards? They're just so impersonal.

Video game culture, thankfully, extends beyond games themselves. Here are a few alternative suggestions you might want to consider:

Gunnar glasses

Gunnar Optiks computer glasses — ($79-$189)

Hardcore gamers can spend hours staring at their monitors. Gunnar Optiks glasses not only relieve the eyestrain that comes with that, they do so in style. Using proprietary lens materials and coatings, these specs will cut down on the headaches and dry eyes that come with marathon play sessions — whether it's on the PC or TV.

AstroMixAmp

Astro MixAmp 5.8 — ($100)

Good audio is an important part of gaming -- unless it keeps the house awake at two in the morning. The MixAmp 5.8 gives you a fully wireless audio solution, letting you use your favorite wired headphones or earbuds while playing any console game. It's done via a transmitter that integrates with your console and sends signals to a special receiver that you plug your headset into. The sound quality is astonishing and the set-up is easy. It's a truly can't-miss device for people who prefer their Black Ops in the wee hours.

Accell Surge Protector

Accell Green Genius Smart Surge Protector — ($30-$35)

Gaming equipment can suck up a lot of juice, but if you've
got a Green gamer on your list, this will thrill them. Accell's power strip eliminates stand-by power loss, saving energy — and money — in the process by automatically powering off idle devices. Want to keep a device on all the time? The strip has four outlets that let you do that as well.

ZAGGmate

ZAGGmate (w/ keyboard)— ($100)

If you really want to be a holiday hero, buy someone an
iPad. But if they already have one, this protective carrying case and keyboard for the tablet computer is a welcome addition. While the onscreen keyboard of the iPad is fine, it's sometimes difficult for touch typers to adapt to. The ZAGGmate not only shields the device with military grade padding and an
aluminum shell, it comes with a netbook-sized keyboard that syncs with the iPad
via Bluetooth. Need more? The device won an innovation award from the
International Consumer Electronics Show.

Lost Blu-Ray Set

Lost: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray) — ($195)

In many ways, this series was a video game, full of plot twists, confusing dead ends and a rich fan community that lived to argue
about the show. This Blu-ray collection features all of the episodes, as well as a bonus disc that ties up some loose ends and tons of hidden features
("Easter eggs," in game parlance). It's a high quality package that offers fans
the definitive "Lost" experience — and is a must-have for those that miss the
weekly debates about episodes in gaming forums.

Enterprise Pizza Cutter

Star Trek Enterprise
Pizza Cutter
— ($25)

Gamers like pizza. And gamers like "Star Trek." Why not give
them the best of both worlds? This kitchen utensil puts the power of the Enterprise in the palm of their hands. It doesn't cut with phasers or photon torpedoes, unfortunately, but it can handle pepperoni and mushrooms with ease.

World of Warcraft Boardgame

World of Warcraft: The Board Game - ($70-75)

Yes, technically, this is a game, but it's a pretty safe bet for the WoW fanatic on your list. Power outages happen — and no one wants to suffer Azeroth withdrawal pains. This board game lets 2-6 players adventure through lands, fight monsters and represent either the Alliance or Horde. It might sound hokey, but the game's actually an enjoyable one that will give fans of the popular massively multiplayer online game some good offline fun.

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