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Cool Gifts for Old School Gamers Who Miss the '80s

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Old School Gamer Gifts_cover

Ready Player One

Back in the day, before the internet and streaming and high-powered PCs, gamers had two choices: beg mom and dad for an expensive gaming console like the Atari 2600 or Nintendo Entertainment System, or go to an arcade and pump tons of quarters into video games and pinball machines. Ah, the good old days … If you know someone who longs for the days of Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Mario Brothers, Altered Beast, or The Addams Family pinball game, then this retro-inspired gift guide for gamers is the place to level up your holiday shopping.

Prices and availability are subject to change.

Related: Incredibly Fun Toys and Games for Adults

Art of Atari
Amazon

Art of Atari

$31 from Amazon
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"The box artwork was an essential part of the ritual of escape you experienced each time you played an Atari game…," notes this book's forward. Take a deep-dive into the four-decade history of Atari, the programmers who created games like Missile Command and Outlaw, and the artists who designed lavish illustrations for the game cartridges and packaging.

Related: Clever and Creative Gifts for Book Lovers

Missile Command: The Atari 2600 Game Journal
Amazon

Missile Command: The Atari 2600 Game Journal

$13 from Amazon
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Speaking of artwork from classic Atari video games, this 240-page blank journal has grid-lined pages and cover art reproduced from some of Atari's most memorable cartridges. As a bonus, you'll find a center insert with more original artwork plus game instructions. Journals featuring artwork from Asteroids and Adventure are also available.

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Apple II Computer Vintage Blueprint Art
Etsy

Apple II Computer Vintage Blueprint Art

$28 and up from Etsy
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For people of a certain age, the Apple II was their introduction to personal computing. With a pair of floppy-disk drives, a monochrome monitor, and a maximum of 64K of RAM, it was a powerhouse back in the late 1970s (though your TV today probably is smarter). This artistic rendering, based on the original Apple II schematic diagrams, is available as a giclee print in a variety of sizes and media, both framed and unframed.

Related: The Hottest Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

Pac-Man 40th Anniversary Edition Arcade Machine
Walmart

Pac-Man 40th Anniversary Edition Arcade Machine

$500 from Walmart
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Collectors are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for restored original Pac-Man arcade games. This not-quite-full-size reproduction costs a fraction of what an original may sell for, but the game itself is just the same. Eat dots, avoid ghosts, win.

Related: The Best Black Friday Deals at Walmart

Space Invaders Counter Arcade Machine
Walmart

Space Invaders Counter Arcade Machine

$140 from Walmart
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Old-school gamers without the floor space for a freestanding arcade machine will love this countertop version of the 1978 classic Space Invaders. It stands just over 18 inches tall with a compact 12-inch footprint and an 8-inch screen. Unlike the original, you don't need quarters and it can be played in color or black and white.

Related: Gifts for Teenage Girls (That They'll Actually Like)

The Game Console: A Photographic History from Atari to Xbox
Amazon

The Game Console: A Photographic History from Atari to Xbox

$19 from Amazon
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This one's for your resident video game historian or a lover of photography. Or both. It's a 264-page visual history of home video game consoles, from the first-of-its-kind Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 to the streaming-based Steam Link of 2015. Each profile contains multiple images of the machines (inside and out), plus brief histories and technical specs.

Related: The Best Gifts for Photographers from Newbies to Pros

Commodore Amiga Retro Raspberry Pi Case
Etsy

Commodore Amiga Retro Raspberry Pi Case

$38 from Etsy
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The Raspberry Pi is a microprocessor kit designed for developers, hobbyists, STEM teachers and students, or anyone who wants to learn how to build and operate a computer or robot. They're also far, far more powerful than the old Commodore Amiga computer of the 1980s ever was. This case will protect your Raspberry Pi while giving it a touch of old-school computer class.

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Turn the Disk Over! T-Shirt
TeePublic

Turn the Disk Over! T-Shirt

$20 from TeePublic
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If you're old enough to have played games like G.I. Joe on a personal computer, you'll also remember having your gameplay interrupted at regular intervals in order to access data on the second side of the floppy disk it was stored on. This 100% cotton T-shirt pays tribute to those days. It's available in more than two dozen color options and in sizes up to 5XL.

Related: Retro Gifts for Kids With Too Much Screen Time

Atari Flashback 8 Gold Deluxe
Walmart

Atari Flashback 8 Gold Deluxe

$90 from Walmart
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Know a gamer who still laments the day they got rid of their Atari 2600? Then give 'em this reproduction console. It comes loaded with 120 games — Pitfall, Space Invaders, and Frogger among them — plus paddles and wireless joysticks. Shop around for the best deal; there are several versions of the Atari Flashback sold and preloaded games vary.

Related: Fun Gifts for the Entire Family

Sega Genesis Mini
Amazon

Sega Genesis Mini

$50 from Amazon
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After Atari's demise, Nintendo and Sega went head to head in the console wars. The Sega Genesis promised better graphics, plus exclusive games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Altered Beast. This pint-sized reproduction is packed with 42 classic Sega games (Tetris included!) and comes with two wired controllers.

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Build Your Own Pinball Game
Uncommon Goods

PinBox 3000 Pinball Machine Kit

$50 from Uncommon Goods
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Talk about hands-on gaming: This kit is designed for the gamer who is a wizard at pinball and crafting. Follow the directions to assemble the pre-cut cardboard pieces, then use your artistic skills to decorate it any way you see fit. Best of all: No batteries required.

Related: Great Gifts for People Who Love Crafting

recognizer Sticker
TeePublic

Tron Recognizer Sticker

$2.50 from TeePublic
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When it debuted in movie theaters in 1982, Disney's "Tron" was like nothing people had seen before, a hybrid live-action/digital animation film about video games and evil corporations trying to take over computing. The iconic Recognizers were the brutal enforcers of the game grid. Stick one on a laptop as a subtle signal that you're a "Tron" geek, too.

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Intellivision Retro Controller T-Shirt
Intellivision Amico

Intellivision Retro Controller T-Shirt

Starting at $35 from Intellivision Amico
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Intellivision was never as popular as the Atari 2600, but its graphics and sounds were a cut above (as any geeky gamer of that era would insist). Like other popular consoles of the day, Intellivision eventually faded into obscurity, but its button-stuffed controllers remain an icon of early home gaming design. This cotton-poly tee pays homage with a rendering of the original schematic diagram.

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Old School T-Shirt Genesis Sticker
TeePublic

Old School Sega Genesis Sticker

$3 from TeePublic
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This graphic decal calls to mind the controller for the Sega Genesis 16-bit gaming system, which dominated the console wars of the early 1990s. It's the perfect accent for a laptop or rear window of a car, signaling your old-school gamer cred.

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Personalized Retro Gamer Pint Glass
Uncommon Goods

Personalized Retro Gamer Pint Glass

Starting at $32 from Uncommon Goods
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Here's one for that gamer who also harbors a love of craft beer: their likeness rendered as a classic 8-bit game character (think paleo-Mario Brothers). These 16-ounce glasses are dishwasher-safe and can be personalized to resemble friends and family.

Related: Raise a Glass to These Gifts for Beer Lovers

Video Games Collection Puzzle
Uncommon Goods

Video Games Collection Puzzle

$18 from Uncommon Goods
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Photographer Jim Golden's artful tableau of vintage Atari, Intellivision, Nintendo, and other classic gaming consoles and cartridges becomes a challenging 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that any old-school gamer will appreciate when they need to take a break from playing Breakout.

Related: Gifts for People Who Love Jigsaw Puzzles

Amiga 500 Console Mug
Etsy

Amiga 500 Console Mug

$18 from Etsy
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Commodore's Amiga 500 personal computer was remarkably advanced for a home PC when it was released in 1985, one of the first able to process sophisticated (for the time) video and audio. That made it a gamer's dream, but the Amiga never could compete against generic PCs and Apple computers in terms of popularity and software titles. In other words, the Amiga is the kind of computer only a true nerd could appreciate.

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Addams Family Pinball
The Pinball Company

A Vintage Pinball Game

Price Varies from The Pinball Company
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Got more quarters than you know what to do with? A restored machine from pinball's golden era of the '80s or '90s ain't cheap — the iconic Addams Family game from 1992 sells for about $12,000 — but for a dedicated old-school pinball wizard, this is the ultimate holiday gift.

Related: Awesome Gift Ideas Under $250

Razer Raiju Mobile
Amazon
Aladdin's Castle Arcade T-shirt
Bygone Brand

Aladdin's Castle Arcade T-shirt

$24 from Bygone Brand
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Mallrats may remember hanging out at an Aladdin's Castle arcade; at its peak there were 450 locations in malls across the U.S. This 100% cotton T-shirt is available in sizes up to 4XL.

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