January 10, 2009

Geek Gifts

The thing about being a gamer is that we love our toys. Not necessarily our cars—though I had a red sports car in my youth—but our toys. You know, those little things that scream "Gamer!" when non-gamer folk see them. The Dark Knight calendar on your wall? That McFarland dragon sitting on your shelf? That Cthulhu bust in lifelike green? Geek toys.

Now that I've reached my forties (gasp!), I've pretty much informed my wife that she is my last bastion for the holiday or birthday "geek gifts"; my family can lower themselves to the occasional DVD, but that's about it—otherwise they ask what clothes I want. Now don't get me wrong, I've long since entered the realm in which clothes, home gadgets. and other practicalities are something for which I can happily shop—as a new father I even take real enjoyment picking out  baby clothes, gods help me ("Isn't that the cutest?")—yet there's a certain boyish charm to knowing that there might be a boardgame or GM screen or miniatures pack under the Christmas tree.

This year's guilty pleasures included:

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks.

I loved Brook's World War Z; after seeing the title pop up again and again in my Rue Morgue -style readings, I finally broke down and bought this great work. I had never heard of the author, but damn if he didn't bring a thoughtful, fresh take to the zombie genre with that work. 

I'm a self-professed zombie addict, truth be told. I love movies about the shamblers, ever since watching Night of the Living Dead on the midnight show scared the living hell out of me as a youth. The Zombie Survival Guide looks to be an amusing, thorough work and I can't wait to dive into it. 

Speaking of zombies ... there's also the Walking Dead vol 8, Made to Suffer.

I purchased my first Walking Dead on a business trip in a Washington DC bookstore, in the shadow of the Pentagon. I didn't know it, but I was coming down with a pretty vicious little bug, and I settled into my posh hotel bed with the comic and suddenly found myself uncontrollably turning pages. Instead of savoring the book, as I do most comics, I was turning pages as fast as I could read. I couldn't wait to know what happened next. (It didn't hurt that the main protagonist's name was Rick!) It was (and is) that good. I slept a restless sleep, filled with zombie dreams and I woke up running a good fever, unable to pry the imagery from my head. I was hooked.

It's worth noting that I haven't actually purchased or read volume 7 yet, but my wife was able to find volume 8 and ordered me to find and read the previous volume before opening my newest arrival. No cheating for me!

Dead Space for the Playstation 3.

This hits all the right buttons (no pun intended). First person shooter? Check. Gritty space game? Check. Horror elements, with a touch of zombie-related Resident Evil-ness? Check. Once I finish wiping out those invaders in Resistance: Fall of Man, I'm headed into space. Look out, creepy alien things.

Last, but not least, a DM's Screen for 4th Edition.

My grognard friend Mark got this for me, as well as some official record sheets, stating "This doesn't mean I'm going to play this, you understand, but I figure you might get some use out of them." (He's a die hard 1st-Edition fan that can barely be talking into playing 3rd Edition and doesn't want to even learn another version of the rules, despite some of the good things I've told him about it.) He knows I'm open to all editions on one level or another, and it was a gift well given and happily received.

So what were your "geek gifts"? 

Here's to next year!
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