Motion gaming, mobile gaming, traditional gaming. More than any year before, shopping for that gamer in your life has become a minefield of games, deals and gadgets.
With Black Friday looming, Kotaku is here to help with a hand-dandy primer on what's new, what's hot and what's coming to the world of gaming.
What is it? While motion gaming has been around in one form or another for years, it was Nintendo's 2006 release of the Wii that popularized it. This year both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 got their own form of motion gaming with the release of the PS3 Move and Xbox 360 Kinect. These game console add-ons have you up and out of the couch, playing games by swinging your hands, aiming at your television or even dancing in front of a camera.
How do you play it? Now that all three major gaming platforms have motion gaming, nearly every flavor of gamer can get into the action.
The Wii uses a remote that senses movement and translates it into gameplay. The PS3 Move uses a special Move controller and camera to do much the same thing, but with higher fidelity games and a bit more accuracy. The Xbox 360 Kinect ditches the controller altogether, turning you, as Microsoft says, into the controller. A camera detects what you do, from head to toe, and uses it to let you control games.
What are the best games for it?
Sports Champions offers a wide variety of get-up-and-play sports games letting you pull the string back on a bow, go two rounds as a gladiator with a sword and play disc golf.
The Shoot turns your television into a fun, retro light-gun game, letting you gun down wooden cut outs of approaching cowboys, aliens and robots.
Kirby's Epic Yarn combines a delightful, knitting-inspired aesthetic with clever game design to deliver a title that is as fun to play as it is to look at.
Red Steel 2 puts a gun and sword in your motion-controlling hands as you fight your way through a cel-shaded wasteland.
Xbox 360 Kinect
Dance Central hopes to do for dancing what Rock Band did for singing, guitar playing and drumming. This game uses the camera and software to track you as you dance your way through routines choreographed to popular music.
Kinectimals may sound like a full-body version of popular Nintendo game Nintendogs, but once you get past all of the virtual cuddling and calling there's quite a bit of meat on this game's bones.
What is it? Traditional cell phone games have given way to much more complex, much more fun, much more successful games on the iPhone, the Android and, now, Windows Phone 7 phones.
How do you play it? While nearly every cell phone on the planet has some sort of games on it, the best seem to be found on Apple's iPhone, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 phones and, to a lesser extent, Google's Android phones. Apple's robust library, single virtual store and introduction of a stat-tracking Gamecenter puts it at the top of the heap for mobile games, but Windows Phone 7 had a strong start with Xbox Live support and quite a few Microsoft-created titles. The Android, out for more than two years, still hasn't found the developer support the iPhone enjoys.
The iPhone allows you to gift specific games through the iTunes store or you can purchase an iTunes gift card. Windows Phone 7 uses Microsoft points which are also sold via gift cards. The Android has no gift cards or ability to gift games.
What are the best games for it?
Android: Racer Speed Forge 3D, defense game Robo Defense and puzzle title Angry Birds are all popular on the platform.
iPhone: Karaoke title Glee Karaoke, defense game Plants Vs. Zombies and puzzler Cut the Rope, all made Kotaku's gift guide.
Windows Phone 7: Action puzzler Max and the Magic Marker, puzzle game De Blob Revolution and action game Harvest all made Kotaku's gift guide.
What is it? Not every game has to be played on a cell phone, in 3D or by moving your body around, the biggest games are still played on the computer, the PS3, the Wii and Xbox 360 with a controller grasped in your hands.
How do you play it? All of the major platforms, even the Wii, have a stable of games played with standard game controller that have you moving around a thumbstick or mouse and pressing buttons.
What are the best games for it? It's been a spectacular year for gaming of all types. Here are just a few of our favorite titles.
DS: Puzzler Picross 3D, role-playing game Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, and action game Sonic Colors all made Kotaku's gift guide.
PC: Strategy game StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, action title Just Cause 2 and role-playing game Mass Effect 2 are all great choices.
PS3: Action western Red Dead Redemption, mythological action title God of War III and crime-puzzler Heavy Rain are all great choices.
PSP: Fighter BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable, action game God of War: Ghost of Sparta and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker all made Kotaku's gift guide.
Wii: Shooter GoldenEye 007, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Monster Hunter Tri all made Kotaku's gift guide.
Xbox 360: Role-playing game Mass Effect 2, action title Red Dead Redemption and shooter Halo: Reach are all great choices.
This Friday every retailer from online store Amazon, to big box retailers like KMart, Sears and Best Buy, to video game shop GameStop have plenty of online and in-store video game deals. Make sure to look over all of your options before heading out over on our giant list of Black Friday video game sales.
If you're in the market for a new console, make sure you wait for a sale this week to pick one up. Retailers are throwing in everything from free games to gift certificates when you pick up a new platform.
Good hunting, and good luck.
Well Played is a weekly news and opinion column about the big stories of the week in the gaming industry and its bigger impact on things to come. Feel free to join in the discussion.