Glassbrick: Giving Sight to Gamers’ Sore Eyes

Hands up – who plays their video games on a computer that is hooked up to a large-screen TV?

I do!

glassb vantage1

My vantage point playing casual PC games

I admit, this set-up has posed some gaming challenges. I’d hazard a majority of the PC casual games I play just don’t port well at all onto the big screen, particularly hidden object games that force you to search for teeny tiny items. You would think playing on a flat-screen TV would somehow enlarge what you see, when in actual fact it can make things appear even smaller. Even changing the screen resolution on your computer doesn’t help. If you’re near-sighted like me, this can create a frustrating gaming experience!

It’s true that for the most part, casual PC games are meant to be played seated at a desk on a 15-inch monitor. This is how I used to get my game on, but my preferred way lately is couch-side on my big TV. I spend enough time seated at a desk, damn it!

How do I work around my dilemma and enjoy gaming on my TV? Today I thought I would share with you a piece of technology that has helped me immensely when playing PC computer games; casual hidden object adventure games, specifically. It’s software that is meant to help those with visual impairments, and although my vision problem is not severe, I have found this aid invaluable when gaming. This software is called Glassbrick.

 

Glassbrick is a lightweight screen magnifier. A screen magnifier is assistive technology software that enlarges everything that is shown on computer monitor. There are various screen magnifiers on the market that range in price from free to “break the bank”. Glassbrick is the best free screen magnifier of its kind that I have found. To further support its usefulness Glassbrick was created by Australian video game developer, Sierra Asher, best known as the sole artist behind Jetpack Joyride. Asher himself is visually impaired.

Glassbrick is easy to use and customizable. With a keystroke of your choice, you can enlarge the screen in increments of 50%, and then easily reduce the size down to its normal resolution. Glassbrick runs in the background so it’s ready to enlarge when you need it.

But how does it work with hidden object games on a 47 inch TV? I think it works pretty well!

Below is a screenshot of my game on my TV desktop. Here I am playing Escape Rosecliff Island, a hidden object game notorious for its teeny tiny items to find. Note that my game is in windowed mode, not fullscreen mode (I’ll get into the reason for windowed mode further down).

beforeglassbrick1
I know you’re probably thinking that no one could see anything in that screen to find any hidden object items, and this is true. Playing a casual game in a small window is difficult. BUT! The magic of Glassbrick allows me to see!

Below is a screenshot of my game, enlarged 200% using Glassbrick. It enlarges with little pixelation so you can actually see what you need to find. I think it’s brilliant!

afterglassbrick1

Enlarged to 200%

You can blow up the screen even more and it still doesn’t look too bad.

enlargedglassbrick1

Blown up to 600%

For those really tough-to-find items, I can enlarge the screen even more, but I find you do lose detail the more you zoom in.

Now some caveats: Glassbrick is only available for PCs. It will only work with games that are in windowed mode, not fullscreen. If you try using it in fullscreen, your game will go haywire, either by freakishly contorting the graphics to a psychedelic level, or by weirdly doubling your mouse pointer (??!!). The compromise seems to be playing your games in windowed mode.

Overall, Glassbrick is a great tool to have at your disposal, for games, or even having it to read while writing your blogpost! I highly recommend it. You can downlaod it here: http://www.glassbrick.org/

 

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20 comments

    1. We’ve been hooking up a PC to our TV for years. We actually had an HP computer with a TV PVR. We hooked up our antenna to it and used it to tape shows.
      Now with my PC hooked up to it, I am able to play sophisticated PC games like Borderlands on it without an issue of resolution. It’s the casual PC games that give me the problem. They really aren’t meant for the big screen. I’m really chasing ghosts here, but Glassbrick works well considering

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  1. This is really, really neat! I like the whole Glassbrick idea a lot. Now, I don’t game (so why the hell am I commenting here? I know I know, but stay with me). I don’t even have a TV in my house, haven’t since 1996. Anyway, it’s still all good. Because I know many people who game A LOT, and I know they would get very excited about this idea. I intend to share the link to this post with some of them, if that’s cool with you!

    When we lived in Saskatoon (almost 10 years ago we left there, yeesh), we hung out with a guy who was (and probably still is) what I call a wiring geek. He could make his computers (plural) do really cool and amazing things. It seemed he could hook up anything and make it do things the designers maybe hadn’t known it could/should do. At least, that’s how it seemed to me, Mr. Burn CDs And Blog guy, over here. Anyway, he had his computer hooked to a big TV, but I think he’d have really benefitted from this. I never understood how he did the things he did, but it was always a marvel (to me) to see it in action. I played games at his house sometimes, I remember a game where the point of the thing was to cause the biggest car crash you could. You got more points for more carnage. It was fun, after a few beers. Weird, writing that sober.

    OH MAN I just had a flashback of him using WinAmp on that thing too (“it really kicks the llama’s ass!”) Hahahaha wow. Does that even still exist? I doubt it.

    Anyway, I built a watch with all of that in order to tell you that this was a very cool post about a really cool thing.

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    1. Sure, go ahead and share. Even if they don’t game, they may benefit. Windows has a magnifier that one can activate, but it isn’t customizable and it leaves this magnifying glass icon on screen. Super annoying. Glassbrick is nice and clean.

      So, no TV? At all? Not even to watch movies? Or just no cable?

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      1. Something Windows made is super annoying? OH GO ON! Hahaha.

        Nope, no TV at all. We do have my iMac in the living room, 21″ super-nice screen. We get DVDs from the library and watch them on that. But to be honest, if we’re gonna watch a 2 hour movie, it’s gott be the weekend. By the time the kids are in bed, everything’s done and it’s time to watch, we’re baked and have no desire to start a film. We’re more likely to watch a TV show season of something (also from the library). An episode is way shorter than a movie. Right now, it’s The Americans, which is a really really excellent Reagan-era Russian spies in America thriller thing. We’re hooked. It is very, very taut, and well-acted, for sure. It even has John-Boy in it.

        And nope, haven’t paid a cable bill since 1996, when an ex-girlfriend got mad, moved out, and took the TV (and the horse it rode in on – the TV stand thing) with her. I hardly ever watched it when we did have it, anyway. About the only thing I miss is hockey, and if I cared enough to look it up I’m sure there’s a way to stream it online.

        I could make a sociological study out of people’s responses to finding out we don’t have a TV at all. Generally it goes like this, and all in the span of half a minute:

        Stage 1) WHAT?!?!?! How do you live? What do you WATCH??? etc etc

        Stage 2) Wow you must be really bored.

        Stage 3) You know, I don’t watch THAT much TV either. Just this show, and this… oh, and this one… (and by the time they’re done they could work a part-time job with the hours they’ve put into all the not-much-TV they watch).

        Anyway.

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        1. I don’t watch much live tv. We have satelitte, only because we get it cheap as the hubs works for one of the large media conglomerates, but otherwise, it would be over-the-air for us. But, i do watch media. Binge watch tv shows on netflix and youtube. I also have a large collection of movies on DVD. I’m not gonna say I don’t watch tv, just on my own watch, instead of the networks’.

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        2. BTW, a good way of weening yourself off the idiot box is going back to school as a mature student and working your weekends. Basically having your time eaten up between work and assignments will cut back on the tv watching. That’s how I did it.

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      2. That’s an excellent way to get off, as Harlan Ellison called it, the Other Glass Teat.

        Truth be told, I was never much of a watcher. As kids, we were always outside. Even in winter – cold doesn’t bother me, never did. So it doesn’t feel weird now to not watch a whole lot.

        I totally get controlling the content. It’s what we do. Same thing I do with music – as noted in my radio series, I need control and I can’t stand the ads and talking. So, I get off my tookus and get it for myself. Done.

        I have a huge stack of DVDs – several music ones, some comedies, but the boatload is samurai/kung fu/ninja flicks. I have so many. It’s a compulsive habit of mine, see them in the $5 bin and just buy them. I just love them.

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        1. No doubt, growing up my mom truly ruled the TV. I missed most of the good sitcoms because we weren’t allowed to watch TV on school nights. I made up for it when I left for uni, but yeah.

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    2. And I had to LOL at kicks the llama’s ass…Isn’t it whip the llama’s ass? I don’t know…
      I thought they were supposed to shut it down, but people still use it. I guess anything to get away from big bad iTunes…

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        1. Meh, FB is a sourge, really. Was a frequent flyer on it – heavy user, heavy commenter. Then, last year I made an inappropriate comment that somehow got me in hot water at work (who me?). Anyways, yeah. Found out who I could trust at work (no one). At any rate, locked that effer down and unfriended a boatload of coworkers. Now I am barely on the thing.

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      1. It’s funny, I know so many people who were deep into it and have pulled way back. My lovely wife did, for a while, but never really deep into it. Now she just scans it and rarely comments.

        Shame you can’t trust anyone at work. But Bill Murray was right (was that in Ghostbusters?) when he says “people would just as soon step on you as help you up.” Jerks. I’ve had so many jobs, in three different provinces, and every single one had a typecast role for everyone. It’s disgusting. Like high school all over again.

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        1. Agreed! I have only *3* people from work who can see my statuses. They hold my philosophy about FB and protection, and they’re wary of mgmt too. There is a 4th but she’s not on FB at all. Yep.

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  2. This sounds really neat. I’ll reblog it if I can work out how 🙂 It would certainly help me see the HOs better on my PC – I’ve bought bigger screens but you do lose definition while gaining size of HO. A bit of a trade-off. 😀

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