Geek gift giving gets good

Think outside the gift card



Us geeks can either be the easiest or the hardest people to shop for. Sure, no self-respecting geek on your list will turn down a gift card to that store with the big yellow letters; but maybe you’re hoping to get them something a little more personalized.

Don’t panic.

Original Geek

You couldn’t go wrong by making your first stop at the geek-haven Captain Nemo Games and Comics on Higuera in downtown SLO. Ray Hanson and crew are some of the original geeks in San Luis, and their store proves it.

Looking for a cheap and easy stocking stuffer? No geek has enough dice. Whether you want 4, 6, 8, 12, or 20 sided, Captain Nemo has what you’re looking for. They run from 49 cents to $10 (that’s for a pack, not one giant die, by the way) so you’re not going to break the bank.

Is your geek a Trekkie(er)? Do they miss the good ol’
days of Star Trek TNG or DS9? Publisher Idea Design Works has comics set in both storylines. Or maybe your geek misses Buffy. “Season Eight” is currently being published in comic form.

Further up Higuera is Tom’s Toys, where you can go as cheap or as expensive as you like. Star Wars Lego sets run anywhere from $19.99 through a cool hundred bucks.

But regardless of what you buy, any trip to Tom’s is worth it for their legendary window displays. In the past they’ve re-enacted Lord of the Rings (with Smurfs standing in for Hobbits and Darth Vader standing in for the Ringwraith). This year they’re working through the 25 days of Christmas.

The 12th day they had Lord Vader leaping. Who knows what they’ll have between now and Christmas?

When you get done with Nemo, and Tom, it’s time to take a trip down the road and check out
some of the geekery Santa Maria
has to offer.

Frag-fest, force feedback

Sometimes, when I’m playing online and I pull off that wicked headshot or score the game-winning goal, there’s something missing—the ability to reach over and smack the person I’m playing with.

In the days before the proliferation of high-speed Internet, the only way to get your (more than 2 people,
that is) multiplayer on was to have a LAN party. Everyone would bring their computers over, pizza would be ordered, and the night would be spent trying to cheerfully kill
each other.

Bringing that in-person vibe back to gaming is the goal of David Larson and the GoodGame Computer Lan Center.

With their 38 computers running everything from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to World of Warcraft and everything in between, GoodGame has become the go-to place for gamers since they opened in October.

Open seven days a week from noon until midnight, it costs just $3 an hour to play. There’re also bulk rates of $5 for two hours, $10 for five hours, or $15 for all day.

They don’t have gift certificates yet, but all you need to do is go down to 1777 S. Broadway, open an account for your geek of choice, put some money on it, and they’re good to go.

 Electricity’s for chumps

Mention a power outage to a geek, and they’re liable to get the shakes. That’s because they don’t know about Leisure Time Games, where the board and the card game reign supreme.

Located at the Town Center mall in Santa Maria, there’s something for everyone’s price range, from stocking-stuffers to The Gift. They have packs of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon that run between $3 to $12.

If your budget is a bit higher, there’s a bevy of board games to choose from. The Risk-on-‘roids Axis and Allies will give you (quite literally) hours of play time.

And owner Ken Guge isn’t making an idle boast when he says these games “require the use of brains rather than thumbs,” when it comes to games like Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne.

At the top end of the spectrum is Warhammer 40,000, a tabletop miniature wargame. Seventy-five dollars gets you the starter box with all the miniatures you paint yourself. But don’t think it stops there. Players can customize their armies from a host of different miniatures out there.

Your geek might thank you when they open up the box the first time; whether they thank you or curse you when they’ve been sucked in down the road is another matter entirely.

Geek Out columnist Nicholas Walter can be reached at [email protected].



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