Get a little competitive this Christmas and Hanukkah with the latest in both high-tech and low-tech games — from board games for kids and families to video games that will get your heart pumping. Here are our picks for the top gifts for gamers for the 2019 holiday season, with a special eye toward makers with a tie to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest (denoted with an L).

Board games

Friends of a Feather by Ravensburger: Easy to learn and fast to play, this Seattle-designed game teaches colors, turn-taking and a little bit of strategy as you add tail feathers to your bird. 2–4 players, ages 3+. $20 at (L)

Thinking Putty Puzzle by ThinkFun: This logic game that gets progressively harder challenges the player to use Thinking Putty to connect dots without overlapping the lines. Single player, ages 8+. $30 at

Throw Throw Burrito: What kid can resist chucking a squishy foam burrito at friends and family members? This fast-moving card game, with illustrations by Seattle artist Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal, encourages it. 2–6 players, ages 7+. $25 at

Villainous by Ravensburger: Channel your inner Maleficent (or other Disney baddie) in this Seattle-designed strategy game where the worst wins. 2–6 players, ages 10+. $35 at (L)

Planet by Blue Orange: Compete to create a perfect world on a 12-sided planet core, arranging magnetic continents to create the planet with the largest animal population. 2–4 players, ages 8+. $31 at

Hardback by Fowers Games: You’re a novelist working on your next book (and earning money and prestige along the way) in this deck-building game that can be played competitively or cooperatively. 1–5 players, ages 12+. $38 at

Decrypto by Iello: Transmit secret codes without the other team intercepting them in this easy-to-learn, fast-moving party game. 3–8 players, ages 12+. $20 at

The Chameleon by Big Potato: Everyone knows a secret word except the player with the Chameleon card; it’s their job to stay hidden while the rest try to suss them out. 3–8 players, 14+. $20 at


Video games

“Pokemon Sword and Shield” Double Pack: The latest Pokemon games let you become a trainer, embark on new journeys, explore vast lands with free camera control and team up with other trainers to take on a wild Dynamax Pokemon. Rated E, for Nintendo Switch. $120 at major retailers

“Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order”: As one of the last remaining Jedi, you explore lands, evade the Empire and find clues leading to the next steps in your quest. Rated T, for PS4, Xbox One and PC. $60 at major retailers

“Telling Lies”: Use fragments of conversations between four people to piece together events and solve a mystery in this voyeuristic indie game. Unrated, for PC. $20 at

“Mortal Combat 11”: The third iteration of this classic single-player fighting game has improved gameplay and graphics, and all the gory fighting that’s made it a hit across generations. Rated M, for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. $40 at major retailers

“The Outer Worlds”: Exploration and action come together on a space colony in an alternate future in this single-player, sci-fi role-playing game. Rated M, for PS4, Xbox One and PC. $60 at major retailers

“Gears 5”: Gears of War trims its name but not the action in this standout first-person shooter with five game modes, developed in Vancouver, B.C. Rated M, for Xbox One and PC. $60 at major retailers (L)

“Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled”: The classic game is more suped-up with wilder racing, fun characters and lots of general mayhem. Rated E 10+, for PS4. $40 at major retailers



Nintendo Switch Lite: The super-popular Nintendo Switch gets a slimmed-down, handheld version for on-the-go gaming for all ages. $200 at major retailers

HyperX Cloud MIX Rose Gold Edition: Get great sound at a great price for Bluetooth gaming headphones; plus, the white and rose-gold styling looks great at home or out and about. $200 at

Other games

Galison Queen of the Stacks Set of Two Shaped Puzzles: This shaped-puzzle set bring together two favorites: cats and books. $17 at

Pendleton Backgammon Set: Unwrap a game of backgammon at home or the campsite with this handsome set featuring Pendleton-printed canvas out of Oregon and vegan-leather straps. $35 at (L)

Dungeons & Dragons vs. Rick and Morty: Play D&D through the lens of the mad narcissistic genius Rick Sanchez, from the Cartoon Network series “Rick and Morty.” Pickles recommended for snacks. $21 at (L)

Products have been independently selected and reviewed by the writer.