Holiday Gift Guide: What Awesome Gift Can You Get For $0-$25?Just because the holidays are coming up doesn't necessarily mean you have to get crazy gifts for everyone. What if you want a quality gift for a non-terrorizing price?

Downloadable games, accessories, art prints? We're open to ideas. Throw them down below, where our editors will be suggesting gift items in this price range as well.


560 People Are Playing Black Ops II Online on the Wii U Right NowCall of Duty: Black Ops II is now out on the Wii U. It's just not being played online that much. Too many people still at work or in school? Console too new? People drawn to other Wii U games? Everyone distracted by the surprisingly terrific Miiverse?

It's early days, so these stats will be interesting to watch. Expect them to grow.

For comparison's sake, the Xbox 360 version of Black Ops II had 800,000 people playing online on launch day.

Call of Duty never sold as well on Wii as it did on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but it still sold well. We'll see how popular this one gets on Nintendo's new console.

560 People Are Playing Black Ops II Online on the Wii U Right Now


Nintendo's brand new online social network Miiverse has had its ups and downs since it went live on Saturday night. And by that I mean it's actually been up and down, online and offline, since then.

When Miiverse is down it's still just about as good as Nintendo's previous online efforts for its consoles. When it's up, it just might be the beginning of something terrific.

In the video here, I'll walk you through it and show you some pretty cool stuff.

As with all things Nintendo, don't expect something that apes what the competition is doing. You'll see bits of Steam in what they're doing, but Nintendo has not re-created Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. They've not made a network that groups players together for party chat, and they've neglected to create system-wide Achievements. Instead, they've put their effort into what at first appears to just be some presumably-hospitable console-based message boards but could ultimately become a system that connects gamers in some extraordinarily useful ways.

This is a service that lets you pause a difficult game, screencap what was happening on your TV or GamePad controller, hop to a game-specific message board, post the image, type or scribble a question about how to get past a part of the game, go back to playing, and then get helpful replies from people who have played the same game. Not only is this a good idea, but it could give Nintendo license to make a Zelda game that is as packed full of esoteric screenshots.

Give this tour of Miiverse a look. Nintendo's on to something here. As long as they can keep the service online.

UPDATE: Just in case you weren't sure of the Miiverse's awesome potential...

Wach this. (There may or may not be an ACIII spoiler in the video; if I told you, you'd know if it was a spoiler or not. So watch at your own risk. Spoilers are supposed to be blocked on the service by users who post them. Those who break the rules can be reported to Miiverse moderators.)

Or just look at this...

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.

Thankfully the user includes a screenshot...

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.

One person was going on about Tupac, but this person has a different role model...

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.

And meet this kind-hearted member of the community...

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.

OK, we love Miiverse.

UPDATE 2: We can't resist. We're sharing one more. This is one of the most popular entries in the Miiverse community for New Super Mario Bros. U

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.


Final Fantasy XIV Will Get Marriage, But Not Gay Marriage (At Least For Now)

When Final Fantasy XIV relaunches as Final Fantasy XIV: Let's Pretend This Game Didn't Happen A Realm Reborn in the near future, the people behind it plan to add a whole bunch of new features.

One of those features, to be added in a future patch, is marriage. The traditional version, with men and women and paladins and cat-people. No same-sex marriage allowed, at least for the time being. Here's an explanation from the folks at Square Enix:

We previously released a screenshot of a sanctum in the woods.

So when the era came to an end, something happened that led to the sanctum being rediscovered. So what is this place for? Well, in creating a world, we wanted put anything in it that is close to reality. Marriage is one of those things. That's why we built the sanctum—so that characters and players can get married. The system for weddings—proper services and such—might not be available right from the beginning. It'll most likely be added in a patch. However, we've already prepared a place for it.

As for same-sex marriage, this is an extremely controversial topic that has been under discussion in the MMO world for the past few years. First we would like to start out with opposite-sex marriage, and then consider the feedback from our players in order to make a careful decision. I can't say whether or not it will be possible at this point in time. I'd like to keep dialog open with our players as we deliberate the matter.

I don't see what's so controversial about allowing people to get married, but hey, if you let men marry men, what's next? Men marrying moogles? Women mating with chocobos? Tradition is very important in the world of Hydaelyn.

Letter from the Producer LIVE Part IV & Q&A Summary [Square Enix via Siliconera]


Return To New Vegas: Social Experiments Bring Out The Worst In People One of the most fascinating things about the Fallout franchise is the history of the vaults. Before United States was destroyed via atomic bombs, the government ordered the Vault-Tec corporation to build a number of underground safehouses. To the public, these vaults were supposed to help ensure the survival of the American populace after nuclear annihilation.

They didn't build nearly enough of them. Not to justify what Vault-Tec did, but in a way, building enough vaults to house an entire country is kind of crazy. So instead they only built 122 vaults—which, okay, still better than nothing. The issue is that the true purpose of the vaults is a nefarious one.

You know how most of the social experiments we hear about show that humanity is kind of screwed up? There's the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, for instance, where normal everyday men pretended to run a prison. Half of them became guards, half became prisoners. They didn't leave any detail out—prisoners got "arrested," the guards were given batons, and so on. It didn't take long before they all forgot it wasn't real, and the results were disturbing. The guards hazed and abused the prisoners, and the prisoners would have breakdowns. The experiment was canceled before it ran its course out of fear of what would happen otherwise.

There are other social experiments like it, in that they are testaments to our humanity—from how far we'd go to hurt others, to how long it takes us to go to someone's aid (if at all).

So it should come as no surprise that the vaults themselves weren't meant to help people.

Many would argue that social experiments are inherently immoral and wrong. At the very least, if someone does something "as a social experiment" to get away with amoral behavior, we'd likely think that person is an ass.

While the war ramped up in Fallout, Vault-Tec became very powerful—practically another branch of the government. As cliche as it might be, that power corrupted them. They'd go on to research how to evolve humans with the FEV virus, along with a slew of other questionable weaponry and tech.

So it should come as no surprise that the vaults themselves weren't meant to help people. Actually, they were large-scale social experiments. Each vault tested certain conditions, often absurd and ridiculous, sometimes completely disturbing. Most of the vault-dwellers would never know this, save for the overseer, who had to make sure that everything in the experiment went according to plan. The purpose of these experiments was to test out how the population would react to certain conditions, and then to judge how the subjects go about repopulating the country.

In Fallout 1, we saw an issue with Vault 13 that was actually common amongst a good number of the vaults: the water chip was defective, and that's the reason your vault sends you on a quest. Nothing too crazy. Other vaults would have ludicrous conditions like "all women and only a single male." In Fallout 3, the infamous Tranquility Lane is a part of Vault 112, where residents are trapped in a virtual simulation that was maintained by the creator of the GECK.

Fallout: New Vegas, like all Fallout games before it, has vaults in it. Two are of particular note: Vault 21 and Vault 11. If you thought that a vault built in Las Vegas absolutely had to be themed around gambling, you'd be right—that's exactly what Vault 21 is, the gambling vault.

Return To New Vegas: Social Experiments Bring Out The Worst In People

When you enter the strip, Vault 21 is nothing but a glorified gift shop maintained by Mr. House. But if you delve into its history, you find out that it was originally inhabited by only gambling addicts. The idea was to make the vault as "equal" as possible, and this meant that everything in the vault was left up to games of chance. The vault would be emptied by Mr. House after winning a bet against the residents of Vault 21, but you can't be too sad for them or anything. They left the vault for another gambling nirvana, New Vegas itself.

Vault 21 has one of the more amusing premises for a vault in New Vegas; Vault 11, meanwhile, is one of the more disturbing vaults. Here, the vault residents are told that they have to sacrifice a person from the population every year or else everyone will die. What they don't know: they're supposed to defy the decree, and if they do, the vault would tell them that they did good. Guess what: they don't figure it out until it's too late, and almost everyone is dead.

The story leading up to the downfall of Vault 11 is a tragic one. After the first batch of vault dwellers find out that the overseer knew about the twisted purpose of the vault, they elect the overseer as the sacrifice. The vault then adopts this as tradition, where all of its overseers are sacrificed after their term ends. It's funny, in a twisted way, to think that elections are typically characterized by a candidate's desire to be elected—but you'd imagine that in this case, people would campaign so that someone other than themselves would be given the overseer title, regardless of what power came with it.

Eventually a woman named Katherine Stone is told that if she doesn't have sex with a certain group of people, they'll elect her husband as overseer. She complies, only to find out that they intend to elect her husband anyway. She then starts killing those people off, supposing that at best they lose their majority and her husband is safe, or at worst she is elected overseer instead of her husband. She is right, and her first act as overseer is to abolish the election and to have the sacrifice be determined at random.

Return To New Vegas: Social Experiments Bring Out The Worst In People

Naturally this upsets people, notably those who think that Stone's actions will destabilize the already-established power relations in the vault. This, in turn, catalyzes a war that leaves only a handful of people alive. Fate is cruel, and the last remaining vault dwellers find out the truth about the vault. They are so aghast with what they learn that they kill themselves... though even these final moments are filled with tension over what should be done. The only remaining evidence about these events are the audiologs that you find when you explore the vault years later.

You get the feeling that these social experiments were done because the government wasn't really interested in saving anyone that wasn't "important," (i.e., themselves) and this is reinforced by how the Enclave treats everyone on the wasteland as something other than human in almost all the games. Regardless, it's difficult to point fingers and be judgmental about it all, because this vault plot twist is exactly what makes them so fascinating. I know that whenever I play a new Fallout, I'm excited to see what new vaults the designers have thought up. My hope is that the Fallout in question features a good mix of funny vaults alongside upsetting ones.

Maybe we're just all awful human beings—that's what all these social experiments say, anyway. Consider this though: the Enclave might be the ones that set up the experiments, but we're the ones practically eating popcorn while we read the results.

Burger King's Gingerbread Cookie Shake: The Angry Snacktaku Non-ReviewOne of my favorite flavors in the entire world is the warm and spicy snap of gingerbread. The taste instantly transports me back to my childhood, to the warm glow of Christmas lights, the scent of pine and the safe feeling of being surrounded by people that love me.

People unlike the folks working at Burger King, where I've attempted to purchase a seasonal Gingerbread Cookie Shake and failed on three separate occasions.

I don't know what I did to piss off Burger King. Perhaps the company is upset that I've featured McDonald's so many times in my regular Snacktaku features. Maybe they don't enjoy my constant criticism of the three BK-themed Xbox 360 games that were released years ago and still languish in the used section of every GameStop, worthless and hilariously overpriced. Have they instituted a company-wide missive advising against providing me with adequate service out of fear that their food might not be up to my exacting standards?

All I know is I want a damn milkshake, and they won't give it to me.

Attempt One

My family and I pulled into the drive through of a Burger King off Highway 92 on our way to visit some family in Woodstock, Georgia. We were tight on time but there was no one else there, so we figured we'd grab a quick couple of shakes and run.

I pulled up to the speaker and was asked to hold. Five minutes passed. By the time the people working inside the store completed whatever Lovecraftian rituals were required to type my order into the mystical cash register it was too late to wait on shakes. We grabbed a couple of cones and sped away.

I realize that this was completely my fault. Had I allotted a more realistic amount of time for sitting idle in my car while the Burger King employees inside the restaurant ritualistically slaughtered livestock, I would be telling you about how delicious that shake was right now. My bad.

Attempt Two

Undaunted, we decided to try again in the evening on the way home from our engagement. As we pulled up to another of Highway 92's many fine bastions of burger royalty the clock read 9:30PM, an hour and a half before the location closed. We declared our intent to purchase the seasonal shakes into the magical microphone box.

"Sorry, we already shut down the machine for the night."

This is the most infuriating thing a person trapped inside a tiny metal prison can possibly say to me. Having worked many food service jobs, I can understand wanting to get the more involved work knocked out early in order to make closing go faster. As a consumer however, I cannot fathom why a location dedicated to feeding people things for money would cripple its ability to do so with an hour and a half left in their day.

I politely sighed heavily, shouted a word that rhymes with "fuck" and drove off into the night.

Attempt Three

It wasn't until a week later that I found the courage to try again, this time at the Burger King near North Point Mall on Mansell Road. I specifically mention this location not to get the people there in trouble, but to ensure that people—okay I am lying, I'd really love to see them get in trouble. This was three days ago and I am still furious.

Again, no one else in the drive through, I pull up and order one of those desirable Ginger Bread Cookie shakes. A completely disinterested voice from the box gave me my total, at which point I informed her that the "and a" I added after mentioning the ice cream drink indicated there was more to the order. This may have angered her.

I pulled up to the window, credit card in hand, and sat there. No one acknowledged I was there. There was a man in a white shirt and tie working the counter inside, but he never met my eyes. The woman that had taken our order was nowhere to be seen.

We sat there for seven minutes. I know this because Dave Matthews' Band's "Last Stop"—a seven minute long song—came on my wife's iPod as we drove up, and as I angrily drove away it had ended and the next song was starting.

So not only did I not get a shake, I had to listen to "Last Stop".

And so there is no review of the Burger King Gingerbread Cookie Shake, because Burger King obviously does not want me to have one. It might be the best thing ever created. I read someone on Tumblr describe it as "an orgasm in my mouth." If Burger King doesn't want to orgasm in my mouth I have to respect that decision.

Free Wii U With $5,000 Box of Twinkies? Now There's a Bargain.Why spend a ridiculous amount of cash on one thing that's not as scarce as people think it is when you can get two in one stupid eBay auction?

Sent to us by reader Chris, this timely twofer combines the joy of milking a potential Christmas Wii U shortage with the chance that Hostess will close its doors forever and we'll have to wait until the company that buys Twinkies gets production up to speed.

It was funnier before the bankruptcy judge forced Hostess and the Baker's Union into mediation, but who knows—this could still be a pretty valuable combo. Just not this valuable.

TWINKIES 10pk get them while they're hot comes with free NINTENDO WII U [eBay]


Activision Suddenly Pulls Nuketown 2025 Map from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Multiplayer Earlier this month, Activision announced that it would let people who pre-ordered the publisher's latest FPS mega-hit play on a re-imagined version of the popular Nuketown multiplayer map. That part of the promotion turned out to be true. But that access to the special battleground appears to have been suddenly revoked. The sudden bad news was confirmed via tweet from Treyarch game design director David Vonderhaar:

The expectation was that players would be able to play on Nuketown 2025 whenever they wanted. As you'd expect, fans are up in arms over the fact that the map has gone AWOL. Kotaku has reached out to Activision for comments and will update this post if they respond.

Allow Me To Convince You How Much Of A Dog You Are At least when you play as a video game character, that is.

View the full Dorkly comic below, but the ones above are highlights of how being a dog is just like being a video game character.

Allow Me To Convince You How Much Of A Dog You Are
For more sick and twisted video game comedy, follow the link to Dorkly.com.

It would probably look like Gotham High, created by these brilliant YouTubers at movieclipsTRAILERS.

Can you spot all the movie references? Post your favorites below.