Relative finally gets gaming wish, chainsaw gathers dust


Published: Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 9:17 p.m.

For Christmas 2004, my brother-in-law wanted an Xbox. Instead, my parents gave him a chainsaw. No, not the fun Resident Evil 4 blood-spattered Chainsaw Controller for chopping zombies, but the loud variety used for chopping wood.

Don't judge my parents too harshly; they had their reasons, the primary one being that my sister told them not to buy him an Xbox. So, since Santa left a chainsaw under the Christmas tree instead of a game console, my brother-in-law named his chainsaw "Xbox."

Given my proclivity for games, I had to set things straight. My brother-in-law had missed a year of outstanding games, though he did get to enjoy more time in front of a fire thanks to the wood he had chopped with Xbox the chainsaw.

Without asking my sister, I purchased a gaming console. Not an Xbox, but one of its competitors - a console that would be more versatile in its game play, game choices and general functions. I wrapped said console, put it under the tree and waited for Christmas.

But as I waited for that joyful morning of ripping wrapping paper, I knew I had to figure out some way to soften the blow to my sister. I had to find a way to include her in the games. She had previously played my GameCube and enjoyed strategy games on the PC. The trick would be finding the right games to interest both of them.

For gamers who want to involve a non-gaming friend or family member in your fun, here is my solution. First, find a game that contains something of interest to that person, maybe something related to a hobby or leisure pursuit. Second, go out and purchase that game. Third, while you are at the store, buy that person his or her own controller. But don't get the cheap off-brand wired controller. Make this controller special. Pick a nice wireless one, possibly in a favorite color.

I purchased my sister a white wireless controller and started the hunt for a game or two they could play together without competing against each other, games she would enjoy as much as my brother-in-law. After much searching on the Internet and in retail stores, I finally found two games that fit the bill.

NTRA Breeder's Cup World Thoroughbred Championship was the first game I chose.

My sister trains horses and runs a stable, so I had to find a good horse simulation game. But Breeder's Cup can be fun for non-horse folks, too. The game includes shades of racing, strategy and betting. You begin to build your stable by breeding, training and racing horses. As your proceed throughout the year, you acquire trophies and prize money and qualify your horses to run in the final race: the Breeder's Cup.

To date, the two have amassed more than $4 million. Either they are good gamblers or my sister's horse sense is paying off.

I also gave them the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. This is a two-person co-op fighting game; here, they can team up to beat the Dark Lord Sauron. The fighting would interest my brother-in-law and the JRR Tolkien tie-in would interest my sister, who named her two dogs after "Lord of the Rings" characters long before the movies were in production. However, my sister seems to prefer the horse game.

Since Christmas, they have played Breeder's Cup every night, diligently building their stable and working toward that final race. They also have purchased an additional game, Tiger Wood's PGA Tour '06, which was more conducive to my brother-in-law's hobby - golf.

I will leave you with two final bits of advice.

First, rent a game before you buy it to see if it is worth the $49.99, and - if possible - buy used. Second, if you are going to give a game console as a gift, remember to purchase a memory stick. It helps the recipient play and save the games.

Cathlena Martin can be reached at cathlena@gmail.com.

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