Pieces of Flair

We weigh in on the pros and cons of wearing game-related paraphernalia, and where to get it. Plus, we allow users to enter the massive E3 Schwag Giveaway contest to win their very own pieces of flair

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By Carrie Gouskos || Video: Vinny Caravella || Photos: Tyler Winegarner - Saturday May 27th, 2006

No Caption Providedince the days that video game playing was attributed only to the pasty and the antisocial, the medium has certainly come a long way. Arguably, now, instead of being a black mark on a person's social calendar (although the way we play World of Warcraft, the reality is that they often are), games are actually helping bring people together.. They're so popular in fact, that people are beginning to wear their gaming habits on their sleeves.

Quite literally.

There are a number of different ways in which you can rock video game apparel. The thing to bear in mind before you do is, are you sure you want to? While there are definitely cool bits of schwag and clothing to be had, as with any hobby, there's no sense in advertising your affiliation just for the sake of it. Without proper context, you're going to look like you're trying too hard.

We'd like to take you on a brief tour of the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly when it comes to video game schwag and apparel. We'll follow up with a photo shoot of the GameSpot editors dressed up in some of their favorite schwag. At the end of it all, we invite all users (that are legally able) to participate in our massive E3 schwag bag giveaway.



Paying Your Dues


One of the easiest ways to get video game paraphernalia is simply to buy it. There are plenty of people willing to take your money in exchange for a T-shirt that may or may not be clever, but is certain to reference a classic Nintendo game or a kitschy game-related phrase. You can buy game apparel of all kinds, from different shapes of T-shirts and sweatshirts to wristbands and even underwear. Are they worth it? Well, that is certainly up to you. Buying specialty T-shirts can get expensive, and what is it that you're paying for exactly, the opportunity to strike up small talk with a complete stranger about video games? (Actually, though, that's a pretty big advantage to wearing your affiliations on your sleeve.)

The following is a list of some of the more popular places to buy video game clothing. Of course, since video games are only growing in popularity, you can find clothes to wear at many more locations than these.

Gameskins/Penny Arcade
Hot Topic
Jinx
ThinkGeek

Alternately, you can go directly to game developer and publisher Web sites yourself. Many of them have stores with unique and well-made merchandise like the Double Fine
store, which has been constantly adding Psychonauts-related items long after the game's release. The Tecmo store, in fact, sells one of our favorite video game-related items ever, the DOA Kasumi 3D mousepad. We'd explain further, but it really only has impact if you see it for yourself.

The Good

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The T-shirts from the formerly independent Gameskins (now a Penny Arcade affiliate hosted by ThinkGeek) range from the obvious, such as the "Konami Code" tee, to the slightly obscure, like the otherwise-unaffiliated-with-Half-Life "Crowbar" tee. We like a couple of the shirts that are nestled right in between, such as "Insert Credit," a clever nod at both evolution and the joy of good, old-fashioned arcades.




The Bad

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Sometimes a shirt is so terribly conceived that we're hard-pressed to understand how anyone could have ever purchased it. The "Don't Make Me Go Zelda On You" T-shirt from Hot Topic is one such item. It seems to be out of print, so you'd have to try extra-hard to make this egregious fashion error, but believe us when we say we don't think it sends the right message. It's not funny, it's not subtle, and it doesn't even look that good. Stay away!


The Ugly

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Not to pick on Hot Topic, but it hasn't replaced the Zelda shirt with a better selection of clothes. Our (least) favorite example is the "You Know You Are a Nintendo Geek When..." shirt, which is a cluttered mess of text and images that wouldn't make for a very good forum post, let alone a T-shirt. You know you're a Nintendo geek when you purchase this shirt, that's for sure.





Getting a Free Ride


One of the best ways to get free stuff on your own is to get the free stuff that comes with preordering. Preordering is the sometimes questionable practice that stores like GameStop and Electronics Boutique (or rather, the newly combined megacorporation that consists of both of them) use to convince customers that they'll get their games guaranteed on the day of release, if they'll only put a few dollars down on it now. Preorders are vital enough to the economy of these stores that they will often secure schwag to lure people to do it. Quite often, this schwag is really good and rare. Sometimes, though, it's not worth it.

Electronics Boutique
GameStop

The Good

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If a preorder works, then you've received a nice piece of schwag for absolutely nothing! Some of the best preorder schwag over time has included the Mega Man "Eight Master Robots" shirt (which you can now buy), a Link statue for preordering The Wind Waker, and one of our personal favorites, the Nintendogs' lunch sack. Sometimes preordering will secure budget games by the same publisher, as well as shirts, wristbands, and other paraphernalia.

The Bad

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Well, you have to preorder to take advantage of this, and for those of us who have had bad experiences with preordering, this might not seem worth it. By preordering, you're encouraging these companies to base their purchasing requirements on preorders, as well as allowing them to hold your money, when you can't help but think they're hoping you'll forget you've left your money there. Sure, sometimes preorders work without hitches, but it isn't the binding contract that they make it out to be.

The Ugly

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These PN03 glasses are cool in theory, but they're absolutely ugly on everyone.

Seriously. They look good on PN03 protagonist Vanessa Schneider, and were a really neat giveaway idea, but they simply don't work. Don't believe us? GameSpot editors attempted to wear these glasses with style, but only one of our many numbers was able to pull it off. Who? Check the following page for the full GameSpot fashion shoot.

Overdoing It

Ever wondered what would happen in video games suddenly became so popular that entire spreads in magazines were devoted to game apparel? At GameSpot, we certainly had to find out, so we had our editors dress up in their gaming best for this fashion shoot. Beware, totally exaggerated modelling is about to ensue.

Win Your Own Schwag

1. What is GameSpot's E3 Schwag Giveaway?

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GameSpot’s E3 Schwag Giveaway challenges all you GameSpot members to show off your creativity, skill, and imagination in a creative writing contest! All you need to do is write in 250 words or less why you think you deserve our two giant bags of free game giveaways from E3 2006.

2. When does the contest begin and end?

The E3 Schwag Giveaway begins 12:01 p.m. PST Saturday, May 27th, and ends on Wednesday, May 31, at 4:59 p.m. PST.

3. Who is eligible to enter the contest?

To enter GameSpot's E3 Schwag Giveaway, you must meet the following criteria: a. Be a legal resident of the United States (excluding Arizona) or the District of Columbia.

b. Be a GameSpot member.

4. How do I enter the contest?

Entering the contest is easy! Just follow these few simple steps:

a. Read the Official Rules

b. Create your entry

c. E-mail your entry to features@gamespot.com

d. Check back during On the Spot on Thursday, June 1st, at 4 p.m. PST to find out the winner

5. What are the requirements for the submission?

a. Text entry must be an original creation that has not been previously published or posted in any type of medium, for entry in any other competition, or the like

b. Entry must not exceed 250 words

c. No profanity, obscenity, pornography, or illegal or offensive material may be used in submissions

Please read the Official Rules to make sure your submission is eligible.

6. What are the rules and restrictions?

Click here to review the Official Rules.

7. How many entries can I submit to the contest?

Limit one entry per person.

8. How are winners chosen?

A GameSpot judge will decide the winner based on the following criteria, which shall be weighed as follows: creativity/presentation (40%), clarity of message (20%), and humor (40%). All decisions by the GameSpot judge are final.

9. What is the prize?

A bag of stuff from E3! Seriously. All of this was acquired free of charge, so there's nothing especially valuable in there--but it should at least be entertaining enough to sift through.

For more information, please read the Official Rules.

GameSpot’s E3 Schwag Giveaway Contest

Official RULES AND REGULATIONS

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.

Sponsored by: GameSpot, a division of CNET Networks, Inc. ("CNET"), 235 Second Street, San Francisco, California 94105 sometimes referred to herein as "Sponsor."

Entry Period: The "GameSpot’s E3 Swag Giveaway" Contest (the "Contest") begins at 12:01 pm Pacific Time ("PT") on May 27, 2006 and ends at 4:59 pm PT on May 31, 2006 (the "Entry Period").

Eligibility: The Contest is open to legal residents of the United States (excluding residents of Arizona) and the District of Columbia who are at least 18 years of age or older as of May 27, 2006 and who have an active e-mail and GameSpot account. Employees and their immediate families (spouse, parent, sibling, child and respective spouses) and those living in their immediate households, whether or not related, of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates and subsidiaries are not eligible to enter or win a prize. All applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.

a. How to Enter: During the Entry Period, each person who submits a completed entry (the "Entry") to features@gamespot.com will be entered in the Contest. A completed Entry consists of all of the following elements: (i) text Entry must be an original creation that has not been previously published or posted in any type of medium for entry in any other competition or the like (ii) Entry must not exceed 250 words, and (iii) no profanity, obscenity, pornography, and illegal or offensive material may be used in submissions.

b. All entries should answer the following question: "Why do you think you deserve our two giant bags of free game giveaways from E3 2006?"

All required parts of an Entry must be submitted as described above or the Entry will be void. Entries submitted via any other method will be void. Contest submissions submitted to Sponsor prior to the start of the Entry Period are void unless resubmitted to Sponsor with completed Entry during the Entry Period. One Entry per person, household and/or e-mail address. Multiple entries will be void. Entries generated by script, macro, or other automated means are void and the entrant will be disqualified from winning. Use of any false e-mail account will void all entries made by that entrant. All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.

Entries must be the original work of the entrant and must be exclusively owned by the entrant prior to entry. Entry must not have been submitted in any other competition or previously published. Entry must be in keeping with Sponsor’s image and may not be offensive, as determined by judges in their sole discretion, nor can it defame or invade publicity rights or privacy rights of any person, living or deceased, or otherwise infringe upon any person’s personal or proprietary rights. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any Entry at any time in the event it is determined that the entrant has not complied with these Official Rules.

Prize(s): On or around May 31, 2006, one winner will be chosen by a qualified CNET judge from all entries received by 4:59 pm PT on May 31, 2006. All non-winning entries reviewed on that selection date will no longer be eligible for consideration. The judge will base his/her decisions on the following criteria: creativity/presentation (40%), clarity of message (20%), and humor (40%). The judge’s decisions are final and binding on all matters relating to the Contest.

The contest winner will receive a bag of free items from the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo ("E3"). Items will include t-shirts, bags, posters, and other household items (ARV $100).

Actual value of prize depends on the bag of free items, and any difference between the stated ARV and the actual value, if any, will not be awarded. Prizes may not be substituted except by Sponsor, who reserves the right to award a substitute prize of equal or greater value. All federal, state and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the winner. 1099 tax statements will be filed with the IRS for the winner of any prize that has a value exceeding $600. Prizes will be awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied by Sponsor. Prizes cannot be transferred, substituted or redeemed for cash, except by Sponsor in its sole discretion. The name of the prize winner can be obtained from Sponsor, from June 1, 2006 through July 30, 2006, by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to GameSpot’s E3 Swag Giveaway Winner List, c/o Karen Lee, 235 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94105.

Claiming a Prize: Potential winner will be notified via e-mail, within 2 days following the selection date, at the e-mail address and phone number that he/she provided with his/her Entry. All prizes must be claimed within 6 days. To claim his/her prize, potential winner must respond to Sponsor’s prize notification e-mail and complete and return the Affidavit and General Release and any W-9 form included with such e-mail. All unclaimed prizes will be forfeited and awarded to alternative winner(s) selected from the rest of the eligible entries for the Contest. In the event of a dispute regarding who submitted an Entry, the Entry will be deemed submitted by the authorized account holder of the e-mail account specified in the Entry. "Authorized account holder" is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. Sponsor is not required to choose a winner.

General Conditions: By participating in the Contest, entrants agree to abide by the terms of these Official Rules and by the decisions of Sponsor and the judges, which will be final and binding on all matters pertaining to this Contest. Except where prohibited by law, by entering the Contest, each entrant agrees that Sponsor and its designees may use his or her name, likeness, city and state for advertising, promotional and other purposes in any media now or hereafter known throughout the world (including the right to post Entry on Sponsor’s websites or any affiliated websites) without further compensation or notification. Neither Sponsor, nor its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, divisions, advertising and promotion agencies, or the respective officers, directors, employees or agents of the forgoing (collectively, the "Released Parties") are responsible for (i) any injury, losses or damages of any kind resulting from participation in this Contest or acceptance, possession or use of the any prize; or (ii) any warranty, representation or guarantee express or implied, in fact or in law, relative to any prize, including but not limited to its quality, mechanical condition or fitness. If for any reason the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, force majeure, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of Sponsor, which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this Contest, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest, and judge entries from among all eligible, non-suspect entries received prior to such action. Released Parties assume no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. Released Parties are not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer on-line systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any e-mail or Entry to be received by Sponsor on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to participant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participation or downloading any materials in this Contest. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, CNET RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH ENTRANT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

Entry Rights: By submitting an Entry, each entrant agrees Sponsor shall own the Entry submitted (including all rights embodied therein) and that it and its designees may exploit all elements of such Entry in any and all media now known or not currently known (including the right to post Entry on Sponsor’s website), without compensation to entrant or any third party and without limitation to time or territory. The Sponsor reserves all rights, including the right to edit, publish, use, adapt, exploit, modify, copy, disseminate, post or dispose of any Entry, online, in print, film, television, or in any other media for advertising and promotional or other purposes without compensation or notification to the entrant of any kind, except as prohibited by law.

Privacy: By entering this Contest, you agree and consent that any information you provide upon entering may be used by Sponsor in accordance with its Privacy Policy, available at http://www.cnetnetworks.com/editorial/privacy.html. If you do not want your information used in this manner do not enter this Contest.

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