December 6, 2012

Holiday Gifts for Geeks

Holiday Gifts for Geeks feature

What do you get the gamer or geek in your life for the Holidays if they’ve already got everything they want? Don’t be silly, they will never have everything they want.  Below we take a look at five different gaming related items that they may enjoy.

Roxio GameCap HD Pro

device-hdproIf you’re a gamer, and I know you are, I’m sure you have often wanted to record your gameplay and either capture it for YouTube or stream it out to something like Twitch.TV for all to see.  Game capture devices have typically been few and far between and none have allowed for full HD recording.  Until now.  Roxio recently released their GameCap HD Pro, a small but powerful piece of hardware that will both capture and stream gameplay from XBOX360, PC, or PS3 using HDMI or component inputs.

Boasting the rather affordable price tag of only $129, the Gamecap HD Pro contains everything you will need to begin capturing gameplay (sans an extra HDMI cable).  Simply take the output of your console into the Gamecap HS Pro device and then from the device back out to your TV or receiver.  Once the provided software is installed on your PC, you’re done. It’s really that simple.

Capturing and streaming gameplay is simply a matter of launching the software, entering your Twitch.TV account credentials and selecting Capture, where you will see a preview of what is currently streaming through the device. From there, selecting Stream will begin streaming to your Twitch.TV channel.  I used this device for nearly 24 hours straight during my Extra Life Marathon this year and I encountered no real issues beyond a lag to the Twitch.tv channel due to my insufficient upload speed.  If streaming in full HD, you will want to make sure you have at least a 3 mbps upload speed.  Slower upload speeds can be accounted for by throttling the quality, which is fully customizable in the software.

The only downfall of this device was the fact that it is powered by the USB connection to the PC. While this would seem to be a positive aspect, the problem is that if the device was unplugged, or the PC was turned off, the Gamecap HD Pro does not act as a simple HDMI passthrough for your console.  Simply put, if it’s not receiving any power, you will get no signal to your TV from the console.  I would love to be able to keep the device hooked up to my Xbox at all times, but this prevents me from doing so.

Other than this little drawback, the Roxio Gamecap HD Pro is a great little device, capturing true HD video streaming, at an attractive price.  The perfect gift for the gaming geek in your life.  Or for yourself.  Whatever.

Pricetag: US$129 (Roxio.com)

RVBX: Ten Years of Red vs. Blue

RvBXIn April, 2003 Machinima was born with the viral video series, Red vs. Blue, produced by Rooster Teeth.  These videos were based on actual in game visuals of Microsoft’s Halo: Combat Evolved.  As the years went on, and new versions of Halo were released, the series continued to use each iteration of Halo to create the Red vs. Blue webisodes.  Now, available for the first time on Blu-ray, is all ten years of this amazingly humourous series, spread across 14 discs in RvBX: Ten Years of Red vs. Blue.

This lovingly crafted box set comes complete with a fold open case, a collectible booklet, extra videos and miniseries, hours of special features, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage, complete with newly re-mastered surround sound audio.

The discs in this set have been designed to allow a continous viewing of all episodes as a single “movie” instead of having to select each episode one after the other.  I wish more shows would adopt this method of viewing.  The HD transfer of the original shows looks great and, even though they were filmed using the original Halo visuals, they still look great for what they are.  It’s nice, though, watching the evolution of Halo as this series progresses, right into the latest Halo 4.  There was nothing left out of this fully featured box set including fun extras like behind-the-scenes and bloopers.  Who doesn’t like bloopers, am I right?

If you’re a fan of Rooster Teeth’s Red vs. Blue, or know someone who is, this is a Blu-ray set that you will not want to miss.  It is, literally, history in the making.

Price Tag: $89.99 (Amazon.ca)

Meccano Gears of War Models

Meccano ArmadilloGears of War may be an M rated series of games, but that doesn’t mean that your kids can’t at least make up their own stories pitting the Gears against the Locust Horde.  Meccano, makers of the mechanical models built with nuts and bolts, have teamed up with Epic Games to bring a Gears of War series of models to kids ages 8 and up.

This collection currently consists of 4 sets, and we took a look at the Armadillo model.  Unlike other model building toys that require paint and glue, Meccano sets are built with nuts and bolts.  The Armadillo set contains approximately 80 pieces and took around 40 minutes to build completely, including affixing the decals at the end.  Once build, this model feel quite solid. The wheels move freely, and anything that should move does so without effort.

Having never seen one of these sets before, I was quite impressed with the quality of the materials and the easy readability of the instructions.  Everything goes together without too much trouble, and most of the nuts have housings in which to sit so they won’t turn as the bolts are tightened. Meccano sets come complete with all the tools necessary to build the model so they are ready to build immediately.

Any fan of Gears of War would be quite happy with these models. They are quality models and would certainly be a welcome addition to any video game collection shelf or in the hands of the kids who want to reenact the Gears/Locust war.

Price Tag: $24.99 (Toys R Us)


YikerzFor those in your life that enjoy a good table-top game, two games stand out as worthy to have in your collection. Both are from a company based in London, Ontario, called Wiggles 3D and both have been awarded the Mensa Select branding.  The first game that is quite a great deal of fun, and one I fell in love with instantly at this year’s first annual Project Play, is called Yikerz!  This is an extremely simple game to learn but one that will provide endless fun for everyone.

Yikerz! is packaged in a small triangular pouch and contains 4 playmats and 20 earth magnets.  Gameplay consists of simply placing the for mats in any design you choose and, after dividing the magnets up amongst the players, begin placing the magnets, one at a time, onto the play surface.  Each player takes turns placing a magnet so that it does not attract another.  The first player to have no magnets left in their hand wins.  If, when placing a magnet, it attracts any other magnets, or affects magnets on the board, the player who caused it must pick up all affected magnets.  Simple, right? Absolutely, and it’s a great deal of fun too.  Gameplay only lasts around 5 minutes which makes it a perfect game for the whole family to enjoy anywhere and anytime (just keep it away from your floppy disks!).

Price Tag: US$12.99 (Amazon.com)

Eye Know: The visual Trivia Betting Game

Eye KnowThe second of these Mensa Select branded games from Wiggles 3D, is called Eye Know: The Visual Trivia Betting Game.  Don’t let the tag line deter you from this wonderful game; this is not Trivial Pursuit.  Like Yikerz! above, Eye Know is a rather simple game to learn and understand, but will provide countless fun rounds for the whole family.  The game says it is for ages 14 and up, but I played this game with my daughters aged 12 and 13 and they had no problems with it.

The rules are simple: Pick any card on the board and identify the image shown. Images are from one of 4 categories: Signs & Symbols, People & Characters, Made Objects, and Natural World.  If you correctly identify the image, you then bet any amount of your chips on how much you believe you know about that topic. Then you can choose one of three question types: True/False, Multiple Choice, or freeform.  If you choose correctly, you gain chips based on your bet.  The turn then moves to the next person.  After each player has had five turns, the game is over and the one with the most chips wins.

It’s really that simple and the images that you have to choose from are everyday objects, people, places, or symbols that most people will know.  As I said earlier, even my girls played the game with no troubles.  If you have an iPad, Eye Know has a free add-on game that gives everyone two extra turns (for a total of 7) with a few new types of visual trivia.

Eye Know really is a great game for up to 8 players and, with over 300 image cards in the box, you will not run out of questions any time soon.  If you do, however, Wiggles 3D also has a booster pack of 300 more cards available for $10.95.  Each game will last approximately 30 minutes.

Price Tag: $29.95 (Wiggles 3D Website)

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of The OMG! Hour, our weekly podcast. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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