December is all about spending time with family and friends. Or, rather, spending time defeating them.
Whether it's retro high-score challenges or modern multiplayer melees, Christmas is a crucible for competitive behaviour and, with so many relations under one roof, it’s the perfect opportunity for a round-robin tournament.
Keen to claim the paper crown again this year? From clever controllers to throwback consoles, there’s plenty here to upgrade your gaming efforts – and even more to keep the whole clan entertained.
And, even if the main event escapes you, you’re sure to bag the consolation award for nerdiest merch.
SteelSeries Sensei Ten (£70)
If it’s the night after Christmas and somewhere in the house, something is stirring, it could be this mouse. Most likely in the hands of your resident gamer as they attempt to smash their own high scores.
After all, with an absurdly accurate sensor, tracking that stays true even when tilted and a hardcore build that can handle 60 million of the most aggressive clicks – not to mention the same ambidextrous shape that made the original Sensei such a celebrity among competitive clickers – the Ten makes everything to play for.
Nintendo Switch Lite (£200)
If a console is called the Switch, you might think it’s pretty important that it can, well, switch. So what’s Nintendo gone and done? Made a Switch that can’t switch. Which, it turns out, was a masterstroke.
Sure, you can’t pop off Joy-Cons for fun with the fam, but you can enjoy a plethora of entertaining games on the vibrant screen while relishing the presence of an actual physical D-pad – all for a good deal less than its switchable sibling. Turns out lite can be more than alright.
8BitDo SN30 Pro+ (£43)
What’s better than finding a completely customisable, cross-platform wireless controller in your stocking on Christmas morning? One with mappable buttons, adjustable stick and tigger sensitivity, variable vibration and the option to save game-specific settings? One that works with PC, Switch, Pi and more? Why, finding one that packs all of that into a throwback shell inspired by the classic gamepads your paws so fondly remember. Because retro is the best shade of new.
Knitted Zelda Christmas Jumper (£30)
When Christmas comes to Hyrule, the Royal Crest surely serves as the angel on the tree. Sadly, while it wouldn’t take a Triforce to make a replica for the real world, the best we’ve got is this ‘professionally stitched’ festive jumper.
Still, while the knitted emblem might not gleam like the regalia it imitates, no fan of Link’s adventures can deny the appeal of a festive sweater finished in that familiar palette of green, red and gold. Except, maybe, one with taste.
Sega Megadrive Mini (£70)
You don’t need to be a ’90s kid to know about gaming’s 16-bit glory days: so legendary are the era’s titles that even someone who thinks the Mega Drive is a golf shot can tell you what Sonic looks like. But what if you want to relive the authentic Sega experience without hacking an HDMI cable into an original? This half-size reproduction is your answer.
Faithfully styled, the Mini ships with 40 games on-board, a pair of three-button controllers in the box and a dose of nostalgia so strong it’ll have you reaching for a MiniDisc.
Oculus Quest (£399)
Christmas might be about love and goodwill to all, but three days in a confined space with your Auntie Janet would be enough to make anyone crave an alternate reality. Alas, no amount of processing power can upgrade your relations. The next best thing? Oculus Quest, a wire-free VR system that doesn’t need a PC to transport you into imagined worlds.
Simply slip on the headset, clutch the Touch controllers and channel that fractious festive energy into a good bit of virtual boxing. Just be sure to move the tree before you start swinging.
Logitech Pro X (£130)
Just as musicians use keyboards to make sweet melodies, so gamers deploy instruments like the Logitech Pro X to do the same. The arrhythmic rat-a-tat as digits dance across mechanical keys, hammering swappable switches backlit by rainbow shades, fingers a flurry of poetic motion.
Sure, the refrain might be a repetitive one, but that clickety-clack is the soundtrack any semi-professional gamer craves. And, just like the song of the oft-maligned drummer, it’s also the one most likely to get them grounded for driving the whole house mad in the holidays.