Originally Posted by CaptainAhab
I have fallen in love with gaming on iOS (with my budget and limited free time it is perfect for me), but I am left wanting a larger screen than my iPhone 5.
In order to have an iPad that will last me for gaming and other things, such as mail and web browsing, for years to come, do I need to purchase the latest iPad Air, or is there a refurbished model that you would recommend that will serve me just as well for upcoming apps and game releases?
Depends on what you mean by "affordable": if your budget allows you to stretch to the latest and greatest, do it. Any full-sized iPad from this generation or the previous one will easily last you a minimum of two years of fluid gameplay from when it was released, however, if not longer. While I'd recommend the Air for the sake of "future-proofing" and all its other improved attributes, the 4th-gen iPad will still hold up well through the end of next year without hassle if you want to go refurbished.
If you do a lot of web browsing, read books or magazines, or play games that rely on player immersion or have a lot of small graphical details (including ported RPGs, and modern board or card games), I'd definitely recommend the Air over the new Retina mini, as you'll find the bigger screen a noticeable plus in that regard. The weight difference between those two devices is a mere 138g, so I personally find any benefit provided by the tiny difference in weight to be overshadowed by the drawbacks of the smaller screen.
As advised by Mr. T, you should probably also always go for the biggest storage size you can afford if you're a gamer or other heavy user, because you can't manually expand that later; I've known soooo many people who have started off thinking that there's no way they'd ever even fill a 32GB device, let alone anything bigger, and only a few days later have realised just how wrong they were. :P