Holiday Gift Guide for Casual Gamers

Casual gamers seem to always be the hardest people to shop for, especially from a hardcore gamers perspective. They don’t like certain genres, they don’t spend all day playing games, and they often can’t handle games with complicated controls. While many of them would love to get an iTunes Store card to pay for their iPhone games, I’ve come up with a list of titles and accessories perfect for the casual gamers on your shopping list.

I am a huge sports fan but not every gamer shares my passion for sports. With NBA Jam it doesn’t really matter if you are a huge basketball fan, everyone can enjoy this game. The controls are simple the game requires little skill and the games don’t last that long. The controls are really simple, especially on the Wii, which makes this one of the best pick-up and play titles. NBA Jam brings us back to the days of over the top sports games when even non-sports fans could sit down and enjoy playing a sports title. With little skill needed (simple flicks of the wrist) and great pick-up and play modes, NBA Jam is one of the best titles for the casual gamer.

Sonic Colors

Finally, Sega gets something right.  Sonic Colors is the first game featuring the blue blur that isnt atrocious and embarrassing, and its fun for kids and casual gamers, due to its relatively easy gameplay and modern touch.  It might be the game to get your girlfriend if shes disappointed another New Super Mario Bros wasnt released this year, and youre worried Donkey Kong Country might be too demanding.

Wii Storage Ottoman

Most casual gamers have Wiis, and they might even have a balance board and slew of other accessories, but since they arent traditional gamers (and many are women), rather than having their game gear proudly in view at all times, they may prefer a place to hide everything away when not in use.  Level Up has several great storage options, but this is one of their best.  It has room to save your Wii balance board, games, and accessories like the Wii wheel, all in a beautiful and functional piece of furniture.  This might be the best way to keep the gamers and casual gamers happy in your household.  Available from Kohls for $139.99.

Rock Band 3

I’ve always felt that Harmonix has done everything they could do to make Rock Band a game that appeals to everyone. With Rock Band 3, they’ve truly outdone themselves. This version, more so than previous titles, is ideal for the casual gamer. Of course it doesn’t hurt that you can have seven people play at the same time (three on vocals, plus drums, guitar, bass and keyboard). Harmonix has catered more to the casual gamer by simplifying the navigation menus and offering more features that assist those who struggle with playing the plastic instruments. The new menu system allows for easy drop-in and drop-outs at any point, even in the middle of the song. All the songs are unlocked right off the bat so there’s no need to spend countless hours playing through the career mode. In-song options now allow players to switch difficulty at any point in the song. When you change the difficulty you automatically go into no fail mode, so if you want to challenge yourself you can do so without hurting the rest of the band or the score. In career mode you’ll now have more choice when it comes to the songs you play and if you happen to fail a song in a set, you can simply skip that song and move on. It really is all the little things in Rock Band 3 that lends itself to a more casual audience. It’s also a great game to play when you have a mix of casual and hardcore gamers.


I wouldn’t say I’m a big racing fan, but I love racing games that are more on the arcade side, and Split/Second is definitely that type of racer. With over-the-top explosions and multiple exciting game modes, Split/Second is a title that speaks to the racing fan in all of us. The controls are simple and so is the gameplay. In Split/Second you try to take out the enemy by triggering explosives set up all over the track. A button icon is displayed on the screen when they can be triggered so you’ll know when you need to hit it. The cars are pretty easy to control, they go fast but after a few racers you’ll get the hang of cornering and soon enough you’ll end up in first place every time. The career mode offers plenty of variation to the basic racing mode and the competition slowly gets harder and seems to scale a bit to your abilities. Split/Second kind of took over from Burnout. While Burnout had an amazing open world environment, many casual gamers were overwhelmed by this. Split/Second is a great racing game for all those casual gamers who miss the old days of Burnout, or who are looking for something a little less kiddie than Mario Kart.

Eclipse Universal Gaming Storage

If your casual gamer already owns Rockband 3, they might find this universal storage tower a convenient place to store their guitars and games when not in use. Because this unit is universal, it will work regardless of whether the giftee on your list owns a PS3, Wii, or 360, or even a combination of those. This storage unit can hold games, controllers, guitars, drumsticks, and even the consoles themselves.  Available from Walmart for $69.99, it is also a more affordable option than the Wii storage ottoman.


Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures: Galactic Passport

While this is an MMO, Clone Wars Adventures includes many flash-type games that many casual gamers play when they’re bored. The only difference is these have a Star Wars theme to them and it works. If you are a Star Wars fan and don’t really play games, Clone Wars Adventures is a great game to get into. It’s a free to play browser-based game with a lot of minigames to choose from. The games range from tower defense to various puzzle games to a target practice title. Each of these games can be accesed from a menu rather than walking around the open world. It starts up fast and doesn’t require a powerful computer. If you wanted to interact with other people you can, or you can just get friends into the game and compete with them via Leaderboards. Clone Wars Adventures offers a lot of the same games that casual gamers love to play on their computer, but all in one place and with a Star Wars theme. With the Star wars Clone Wars Adventures: Galactic Passport, for only $20 you can give the casual gamer a 90-day premium Jedi Membership. This unlocks some of the more challenging levels within the mini-games, and includes a Yoda bobblehead!

Bejeweled 3

What casual gamer doesnt love to spend hours on games like Bejeweled?  With the third entry in the series releasinPreviewg on December 7, the puzzle fan in your life will be happy to know you thought of them with the gift of Bejeweled 3.  This latest version includes eight game modes: including Classic, Quest, Lightning and Zen.  The game also includes badges to earn, and secret games to uncover, as well as boasting smoother action and high-definition graphics.  Best of all, the game is available in a retail version for $19.99, so you dont have to worry about messing with download codes.

Amazon Gift Card

Unfortunately, most casual game portals (like PopCap, GameFish, etc.) dont allow you to purchase a gift certificate or card.  You can gift an individual game (or games), but you cant give that person on your list the ticket to purchase any game they want.  However, Amazon also has many casual games on offer, both digital and retail, including various entries in the DASH series, and more.  Let your receiver pick the games they want with an Amazon gift card, which you can purchase here in any amount youd like.


Super Scribblenauts

Super Scribblenauts is a great game for someone who wants something easy to get into, and that they can play in small bursts if they want, or even on the go.  Having greatly improved the quirks of the original game, including moving Maxwell around the scene and the sometimes wonky physics, gamers are free to let their imaginations run wild as they use adjectives for the first time in this puzzle-focused sequel.  The par system from the first game has been removed, allowing gamers to experiment without penalty.

Picross 3D

If you have a casual gamer on your list who loves puzzles, then they will love Picross 3D, in which you must carefully remove blocks based on various clues in order to reveal their true shape.  With over 350 puzzles and a star system that will always having you go back to see if you can get a perfect score, this game will keep the puzzler on your list entertained for hours and hours.

Green (or Orange) Holiday DSi w/ Mario Party DS

Now, if you have a casual gamer on your list and they dont already own a DS, one of the holiday DSi bundles might be the perfect gift.  Available in either green or orange, each DSi comes with a copy of Mario Party DS, making them an excellent gift.  The DS has a great library of games that appeal to both hardcore and casual gamer, so you know that special someone will be thanking you for this one long after the tree is down and the presents put away.  Buy it on Amazon for $149.99 and get a bonus $25 video game credit you can keep for yourself, or add to your gift!