What do you want for Christmas, Jeff?

It's the question that can slam the brakes on the holiday spirit; it stopped poor Ralphie dead in his tracks in that fateful moment when he finally got to Santa. "What do you want for Christmas?" So, to help make this the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny Kaye, the Shacknews editors present some of our answers for this holiday season to help you be ready for when you get put on the spot during the 2011 Holiday Season. If my friend or family member asks, I'd say... Co-op games, but with a twist. This year, I'm suggesting that my friends and family members find a game with a co-operative mode on their preferred platform--Steam, Xbox Live, or PSN--that they think looks fun, and then buy it for themselves. It's a triple-win. I don't have to worry about them purchasing something for me that I already have, they get a new game out of the deal, and I get to spend some quality time playing with them online with them. Co-op with a good friend or family member is still one of my favorite ways to spend time with someone I care about, when face-time isn't an easy option. It helps that there are a ridiculous number of games with fun co-op modes out this year. Strangely, a good number of this year's great co-op enabled games happen to be the the third installments in their respective series: Saints Row: The Third, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, and Resistance 3.

iPad 2

If I'm writing my letter to Santa, I'd put... An iPad 2. I admit to being fiendishly skeptical about the initial iPad when it was announced and launched. Sure, the tech was slick, but Apple hadn't done a very good job explaining to me exactly why I should want one. I mean, it seemed like quite a premium to pay just to be able to surf YouTube videos while on the can. Since the first device's launch, independent game makers have continued to elevate the platform's appeal for me by releasing a steady stream of surprisingly good games, many of which are tailored specifically to the device, utilizing the gigantic touch screen in ways to provide rich experiences still unparalleled by other platforms. From music-driven fantasy adventures like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP and the recent iPad revamp of Aquaria, to unique puzzle games like Fractal and Halcyon, the platform is continues to overflow with quality indie games. While the iPad 2 is a bit pricey, the games themselves are not, which makes it really easy to dive in and scoop up a handful of great titles on the cheap. C'mon Santa. Hook a gamer up!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

If I hadn't already broken down and gotten it, I'd have to say... A big, fat, juicy RPG to lose myself in. This year, there are two role-playing experiences in-particular that I wouldn't want to miss, were I not enjoying them immensely already: Skyrim and The Witcher 2. Both games present players with rich fantasy worlds to get lost in, morally-grey choices that matter, fun combat, and stunning presentation. CD Projekt's The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a bit more focused, in that you are playing a specific character: monster-slayer Geralt. The world of Witcher 2 is smaller than Bethesda's latest opus, but it's also easily one of the most gorgeous (and challenging) RPGs out there, provided you have a behemoth of a PC. If not, an Xbox 360 version is in the works. Unless you've been living under a rock recently, you already know that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is also an obvious choice for the RPG-nut. For me, it's the most compelling Bethesda RPG to date, largely due to its inclusion of roaming dragons, but also because it does a great job of offering opportunities for adventure in a world worth caring about. It's the kind of game my high-school D&D-playing buddies and I used to dream would be possible one day--a world of blades and magic that you can play your way, and completely lose yourself in.