If you've been following our streams on Twitch or listening to our podcast, you'll likely fully aware of how much we enjoy poking fun at the professional gaming scene. Folks like Fatal1ty, the concept of "gaming glasses" and other facets of this extreme pro gamer culture seem to exist in this weird world where everyone has decided to take video games infinitely more seriously than we do. Not to say we don't take iOS games (or video games in general) seriously, but there's an order of magnitude of difference here. I've, for instance, never used chemical hand warmers before playing a game to increase my actions per minute, or anything close to that.
How much better we'd be doing in video games, particularly the iOS games I play while streaming, if I was wearing professional gaming glasses has been a running joke forever. In my mind, those silly yellow glasses you'd see practically glued to the head of pro gamers like Meteos embodied everything that was ridiculous about this whole scene. It really doesn't take much to roll your eyes at them, Gunnar is leading the charge and hit up their "How They Work" page you'll be thrown a pitch that sounds like the world's most convincing snake oil salesman selling you on his magical cure-all. So, in my mind, they always existed in that category of product for people with more money than sense, and I never thought about it too much more.
Anyway, we deal with lots of marketing and PR companies with TouchArcade, especially with bigger budget games or products. Sandbox Strategies is on my (incredibly) short list of these outfits that I really enjoy working with, and as part of preparing for the launch of one of the products they were promoting, the Steel Series Stratus, we somehow got on the topic of non-iOS stuff they were doing and Gunnar glasses came up. I don't remember what my exact response was to the offer that they send me a pair, but, I'm pretty sure it was something along the lines of "LOL, alright."
A couple weeks later the FedEx dude dropped off my bright yellow gaming glasses, and I was left with a huge "Alright, well now what" feeling. Wandering around my house, looking at things tinted yellow, I started to suspect my suspicions were true. FedEx in my part of town comes pretty late in the day, and I was already done working at the time, so I just put them on my desk and went on with my evening.
It took a couple days before I started wearing them, with the likely catalyst being me wandering around looking for my glasses, sitting down at my desk, and figuring I'd just wear my Gunnars instead. Initially, again, it seemed like the sole difference using them was that my screen was slightly yellow, that's about it.
I figured I'd spend more time with them, try wearing them for a week, and then see what if any difference I notice in going back to my other glasses… Which is when the whole thing hit me. When you spend your day staring at an LCD wearing Gunnars, it's straight up unpleasant to look at your display with normal glasses. It results in the experience encapsulated in this tweet and feeling like this squinty dog image that's been floating around the internet forever.
For better or for worse, Gunnar glasses do actually allow me to spend more time staring at my computer screen. I'm still not entirely sure about all the crazy features they boast, but one thing is for certain: When you're just used to how your vision is, and dealing with eye strain using a computer, it never feels like anything is wrong. You start doing the whole squinting thing, closing your eyes hard, rubbing them as it gets later in the day, and this is all both kind of normal and something you don't really think about.
But, it's actually really surprisingly nice not needing to deal with that anymore, and the only cost of removing these sorts of annoyances from your life is wearing some admittedly pretty silly looking yellow glasses. I used to be pretty happy to get off my computer in the evening and go look at something else, and never really felt like playing computer games after staring at the WordPress back end of TouchArcade all day… But that's not really the case anymore wearing Gunnars while I work. It's weird how you just take computer eye strain for granted, and adjust your day around it, without ever really thinking about why you're feeling that way or doing that.
I'm not about to say "If you use a computer, you must go buy some Gunnars," or anything like that… But if you're like me and always sort of dismissed these kind of glasses as gimmicky, you really owe it to yourself to try 'em out. Chances are, you'll be pleasantly surprised. In fact, it's too bad Gunnars aren't sold in more stores, as I think sell tons more if you were able to actually get a pair on your face and look at a computer monitor versus just looking at their web site and getting the hard sell on all the magical features they have, as seeing really is believing.
I started telling friends, "Hey, these glasses are actually pretty great, you should try them out," and was met with more than a few "Yeah, no crap, I've been wearing a pair while working for ages now." So, apparently, I'm just behind the curve. Again.
As far as whether or not Gunnars are for you if you're specifically looking to use them while playing iOS games, I'm not so sure. Where they really seem to shine is in extended viewing sessions, where you're able to wear them and look at something long enough to forget that everything has a yellow tinge. In the mobile world, play sessions are typically so short and you're often looking at other things so much that you don't seem to really experience the full benefit.
If, however, you're working in an office under nasty neon lights or play computer games for hours at a time, you've really got to try these. A week of use and Gunnar managed to turn someone like me who couldn't possibly be more skeptical about their glasses to someone who wears them daily? That's pretty huge.