Whether you've just purchased or received a brand-new video game system, or you’re a long time interactive entertainment enthusiast, a variety of useful accessories stand ready to help you take your gaming to the next level. Designed to help you get more from any solo or multiplayer experience, each is custom-built to serve a variety of useful functions, from improving reaction times to enhancing in-game communications or tracking your every movement and gesture. No matter if you’re a PC gamer, or prefer tuning out with today’s hottest set-top systems, don’t forget to keep all in mind the next time you’re hunting for the perfect gift – or perfect way to get the edge up on opponents.
Controllers and Joysticks
First and foremost, you want to make sure you have a variety of video game controllers at your disposal. If you've bought a gaming console, then you're in luck: One comes in the box (PC owners typically need to buy them separately, as most computer games default to a mouse/keyboard control scheme). However, one is seldom enough, especially if you’re a fan of multiplayer match-ups –you won't be fighting in many streets or combatting many mortals locally unless you invest in a second (and, in some cases, third and fourth) controller. In addition to standard models, or those which add a variety of useful functions – e.g. turbo speed or programmable buttons – you’ll also find a variety of custom controller types (such as racing wheels or flight sticks) available for virtually any context you can imagine.
Rechargeable Batteries and Docks
While the majority of major home gaming consoles now come with controllers that use rechargeable batteries right out of the box, don’t assume this to always be the case, depending on the system and model you’ve chosen. Many controllers still feed off of regular AA batteries, and if you're not careful, they can burn through energy like a hungry child with a sweet tooth would with sweets. In these cases, it's a good idea to look into various recharging solutions which best suit your needs. In addition to rechargeable batteries, you’ll also find recharging docks which make the process even easier as you can just set your controller on them when you're done for the day and need to juice up.
External Hard Drives
Once upon a time, games used to be tiny little things that fit on floppy discs. Today, however, they often come in impressively large sizes – the kind that demand lots of storage space. That console you just bought that has a 500GB hard drive inside? Believe it or not, it will not take long to fill up (never mind those that offer only 32GB options), especially between so many software choices like downloadable games, patches, add-ons, expansions, and the often-mandatory installations that disc-based products demand. Happily, if you’re not ready to upgrade to a unit with more sizable storage space, you can often invest in more affordable external hard drives, which offer ample room to hold your favourite music, movies, games and more.
Headphones and Headsets
Supposing you don't live alone – whether you're sharing living space with a roommate, a significant other, or even just your parents – it always pays to be courteous about volume levels. Rather than blow friends and family members’ eardrums out every time an alien invasion hits, sometimes it pays to invest in a high-quality pair of headphones that allow you (and only you) to hear the apocalypse as it hits. Likewise, if you plan on doing any multiplayer gaming, you’ll probably want to invest in a model – wireless or otherwise – that comes with a built-in microphone. Units that come with mics attached make it easy to chat and communicate with teammates – an increasingly important part of today’s gaming experience.
Keyboards and Mice
PC gamers often find that there is a greater reliance on the use of a keyboard and mouse for their gameplay needs. And while these devices are simple enough to come by – they generally come standard out of the box with many new PCs, after all there are speciality versions of devices which are optimized to offer the utmost in comfort and functionality when gaming on your computer. Many units are specifically crafted to respond faster, detect movements more carefully, and look pretty dang spiffy, too. Console gamers occasionally need to enter text as well, and for those who prefer the more direct approach to moving a cursor around the screen from letter to letter, there are several helpful options to be found here as well.
Finally, it never hurts to have a little extra money on hand in case a new game comes out unexpectedly, a sale suddenly strikes, or you just need to renew your online membership. For times such as these, a good investment would be prepaid gaming cards, which allow you to keep a stash of in-game currency available for whenever you might need it. Besides, even if you don’t use them, they make great gift options for any enthusiast – and ones that help you easily share the magic of gaming with friends and family on-demand.