Nearly three-quarters of American households own a device that's used specifically for video games, whether it's a console, a handheld device or a dedicated computer, according to Nielsen Co. Add to that all the people who play games on their smart phones or their home or work PCs, and no one's immune.
But games, like gamers, come in all shapes and sizes. The cousin who's addicted to "FarmVille" probably won't be thrilled with "Call of Duty: Black Ops," and vice versa. If you're planning on giving games to your loved ones this year, try to get some idea of how they like to play.
Here are some suggestions for all types of gamers:â¿¿ The adventurer: Some gamers just want to live in an alternate world for 100 or so hours. "Mass Effect 2" (Electronic Arts Inc., $19.99, for the Xbox 360, Windows PC) offers that kind of experience, immersing the player in an intergalactic conspiracy involving a lively assortment of human and alien characters. A little closer to home, there's "Red Dead Redemption" (Rockstar Games, $59.99, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3), a stirring Western drama that's stuffed with shootouts, chases and, of course, poker games. â¿¿ The warrior: This gamer thrives on online combat with other humans. "Call of Duty: Black Ops" (Activision, $59.99, Xbox, PS3, Windows PC) is the home of the most intense online action right now, thanks to a new wagering system, which lets you gamble with hard-earned game credits. "Halo: Reach" (Microsoft Corp., $59.99, Xbox) adds aliens into the mix, as well as a broader range of multiplayer modes. â¿¿ The partier: If your gamer has siblings, roommates or just a lot of neighborhood pals, you want something they can all play together. "Rock Band 3" (MTV Games, $59.99, Xbox, PS3; $49.99, Wii) adds keyboards to the winning "let's start a band" formula. "Pro modes" for guitar, keys and drums get you closer than ever to genuine musical skill. For pure, chaotic fun, "NBA Jam" (EA Sports, $49.99, Xbox, PS3, Wii) delivers high-flying dunks and jaw-dropping alley-oops with a dream team of basketball legends.