Digital Dragon Holiday Gift Guide

As the Holiday Season approaches, so do the amazing gifts that make for meaningful experiences that can bring joy to our friends and loved ones. There are plenty of toys, games, gizmos, and gadgets I won’t cover in this post due to the simple math of it all. That being said,  I’d like to focus on a few examples which I find as transformable, extendable, and… well, down right cool. The educator in me strongly encourages anyone and everyone to explore the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model from Dr. Reuben Puentedura when considering purchasing educationally focused products. More information can be found via his blog: Now onto the stuff!

LEGO – FORMA: Teens to Adult

LEGO FORMA is on Digital Dragon's Holiday Gift Guide

For the adults in your tribe, think of backing the LEGO FORMA project. The limited run, currently found on Indie-Go-Go, is specifically designed to steer us back towards our creative selves. Many of us have experienced, and may be still be, what the LEGO community refers to as the “Dark Ages.”  Simply put; when we are no longer actively building. This set might just be the model to rid us of those awful times and convert us to an AFOL (adult fan of LEGO). I have been following this project since launch and have been very impressed with how the LEGO team has handled feedback from backers. In the true spirit of making, they have even released even more customizable skins that anyone can print and assemble on their own. The LEGO system by itself is naturally transformative and extendible, but it’s nice to see the level of intention the team has given to this unique adult-oriented product line.  

Pokémon Let’s Go – Kids to Adults!

Pokemon Go is on Digital Dragon's Holiday Gift Guide

Still considered by some as a video game console outlier, the Nintendo Switch is launching Pokémon Let’s Go: Pikachu! and Pokémon Let’s Go:Eevee! editions on Nov. 16 for fans of all ages. Various bundles are available; some which include the unique Pokéball controller. While I would not usually call out a “Triple A” (mainstream) title, there are several intriguing elements to these titles. Surging from the phenomenal success of Niantic’s Pokémon Go, Nintendo is taking another step towards blended digital and physical play. The experiences are cross platform between one-another (mobile to Switch and vice versa) and also offer an easy drop-in / drop out cooperative play. While I could “diglett” way deeper into this, let’s “l’eevee” it at that – for the time being.

Education Games – All Ages

For those of us who are flirting with the idea of taking the dive into VR, it’s a decent time to do so. Prices for hardware are *reasonable* and there are some titles worth checking out. I’d like to spotlight the works of the Pittsburgh based independent studio: Schell Games – the largest full-service education and entertainment game development company in the United States.

Future Game Designer – Gift Idea

Tech Holiday Gift List by Digital Dragon features "The Art of Game Design" book.

The founder, Jesse Schell, is not only strongly involved with my university’s (Carnegie Mellon) department, but also the author to the world-renowned title “The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses” (a great gift idea in itself for future game designers!). The studio’s catalog includes titles for all ages – from the award winning educational chemistry lab game “HoloLAB Champions” (2018 VR Awards – VR Education Game of the Year) to the multi-million dollar revenue gaining spy-thriller, “I Expect You To Die.”  Both titles are available on multiple platforms including the Oculus Rift, Playstation VR (IEYTD), and HTC Vive.

Virtual Reality – Best Santa Gift!

Digital Dragon recommends, Playstation VR gift for serious gamers on your list.

But which one should you buy? That all depends! All things considered, we’d probably go with PlayStation VR just based on the price point and content available. Granted that’s if you have a Playstation. Otherwise, both the HTC VIVE and Oculus Rift still need beefy enough computers to not drop frames…so it’s really a toss up between those two.

TLDR: Over the new few months, we will want to share gifts with friends and loved ones that nurture their development and well-being. There are a lot of things out there, we owe it to ourselves to put in the time to decipher what might be uniquely best for the intended recipient. We can do this by using various frameworks (I as did with the aforementioned gift ideas) to guide us along our purchasing path.

Honorable Mentions: micro:bit, Hummingbird Kits, interactive museum tickets {Two Bit Circus and Meow Wolf (Las Vegas isn’t too far from LA!)}, the MicroSoft Xbox Adaptive Controller, after school classes and tech camps.😉

Education Experience – Gift Certificates!

Digital Dragon Holiday Gift Certificate for Educational Present

Digital Dragon gift certificates make great gifts from those relatives that want to get more meaningful presents for the grandkids, nieces, and nephews! We offer them in any denomination for classes, camps, and private instruction. Call to order your holiday gift certificate today, 424-280-4654.

John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education. This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.