Glassbrick

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/