Tiltfactor Staff’s Holiday Gift Picks

Looking for gifts but don’t know what to get? The Tiltfactor staff has come up with gift picks that should satisfy the “non-gamer” or 733t player.

Check out the gift suggestions from Tiltfactor’s most popular Post-Doc, Geoff, and incredible interns Max and Erika (reprinted from our Facebook Page):

Ticket to Ride – Europe (boardgame)
Geoff: I was introduced to this game by my younger cousin over Thanksgiving break and had a blast playing it. Although the objective of the game is pretty straightforward – your goal is to connect cities and “claim” routes on a gameboard map of early 20th century Europe – it definitely involves some pretty intense strategy, for instance in deciding whether to focus on one’s own routes or compete with other players by blocking theirs, as well as a good bit of luck (in the form of “rail cards” that dictate the color of the rail lines you can build). Extra points for the use of native languages in the names of cities included on the map (e.g., Kobenhavn for Copenhagen) and the elegantly designed board and pieces (including multi-colored plastic trains designating the different rail lines that look pretty cool once they start going up on the board). There’s an online version of the game (as well as the North American version) here: http://www.daysofwonder.com/online/en#ttol

Zazie dans le Metro (movie; dir: Louis Malle, 1960)
Geoff: Hands-down this is the most playful movie I’ve ever seen, and even after a half dozen viewings, I still can’t watch it without having a goofy grin on my face almost all the way through. The basic plot is minimal – a precious, strong-willed, borderline manic young girl named Zazie is visiting her uncle in Paris and is repeatedly thwarted in her desire to ride the Metro. But what makes the movie great is director Louis Malle’s inventive camerawork and the increasingly erratic, slapstick, hilarious tone of the film (it often feels like you’re watching a comic book or a video game unfold on the screen). Can’t recommend this movie enough, and I was psyched to see that The Criterion Collection recently released a newly restored version on DVD and blu-ray.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (book)
Geoff: As my requisite social psychology plug, I’d recommend this provocative look at the limitations we humans face in predicting both what will make us happy and how happy (or unhappy) future events will make us feel (what psychologists refer to as “affective forecasting”). Although it’s somewhat heavy on research and theory, Gilbert (who was a science fiction writer before becoming a psychologist) makes the findings accessible by illustrating them with everyday life examples that everyone can identify with. Compelling – and ultimately illuminating and inspiring – examination of the meaning of happiness.

The Altruism Equation (book)
Erika: Good food for thought in a time when we are cynically convinced that
nature’s “survival of the fittest” only applies on the individual level.
Indeed, The Altruism Equation opens one’s mind about the possibility of
group/herd evolution and how it is necessary and beneficial to keep
altruistic traits perpetuated for the larger interest of the group.

photo: Mattel, inc.
Blokus (boardgame)
Erika: There are many versions of this game, but I’ve only played the original
and have had my eye on the 3D version. A board game combination of
multi-player Tetris and Go, how could you go wrong? Plus, the shapes offer a very nice all-around experience, from the tactile effect to the tinkling sound of the shapes, Blokus is a true treat for the mind!

Escape Velocity: Nova (digital game)
Max: This is my favorite computer game of all time. If you’re a big sucker for graphics you’re not going to love this one. If you can overlook its age, EV Nova is the best twitch-piloting game out there. Between the space combat, the complex economies and governments, and the amazing storylines, this is definitely a game to check out. As an added bonus, there are tons of free user-created addons, from new weapons for your ship to entire universe remakes. I have yet to find a space game that rivals EV Nova, and believe me, I’ve been looking.

Lost Cities (card game)
Max: Lost Cities fills a rare niche in analog gaming. It’s a simple, fun, two-player card game. Besides Chess, Checkers, Go! and the classics, it’s surprisingly hard to find good, short, two-player games these days, and Lost Cities definitely fits the bill.

The Name of the Wind (book)
Max: This soon to be trilogy is the best fantasy novel I’ve read in a long time. I’m a big sucker for coherent and well-explained magic systems, and Name of the Wind’s has to be the best crafted magic system I’ve ever stumbled across in a book. Add that to the engaging characters and storyline and I would suggest this book to anyone to likes fantasy.

What games, books, or movies would you recommend to others for the holidays? Leave your suggestions in the comments section here or on our facebook page.