I refuse to be embarrassed by the best gaming peripheral of 2019

On Saturday I went to a Christmas party where there was a White Elephant swap – a secret Santa-style swap with random gifts that participants steal from each other rather than actively swapping.

We sat in a circle and rolled the dice to see who got what. After about half an hour of exchange, the presents were opened and finished. There were coffee beans, candles and lots of alcohol. Someone had lottery tickets; another has a Golden Girls Chia pet. (Sophia if you ask yourself.)

I unpacked my gift and found the Aduro lounger, which is described as a “universal adjustable neck holder”, in a neutral shade of gray. It took a few seconds for everyone in the room to recognize this item for what it is: a device that is essentially a portable selfie stick.

The box lists its advantages: film make-up tutorials! Spying on people behind you! Watch videos without using your hands! You know, things people do!

I immediately took it out of the box and started playing around with it for the joy of the party. I pulled and stretched to bring the screen to the right height. I opened a game – Grindstone of course – to try it out.

A woman I didn’t know tapped my shoulder and pointed to her husband, a man who laughed so hard that he cried and said, “My husband loves your sense of humor!”

They thought I was doing a little.

No friends. It actually rules. The best gaming peripheral of the year won’t embarrass me. And if you want or need to use it, you shouldn’t be ashamed either.

I am not a commuter. I work from home and spend most of the day on my laptop. This is great and I love it – especially when I remember how bad the train system in Boston is. I used to live an hour away from my job, and because of train delays, I often took a lot longer.

However, what I miss is that I have about an hour to play around with games on my phone. I had my standby games that I played when I wanted something that I knew was good, but there were times when I looked for hidden gems in the App Store. I no longer have the two “free” hours a day that I am stuck in a metal tube, so my phone time is fixed at bedtime.

With the launch of Apple Arcade, I no longer have to curate as much. I can just lie down before bed and play a few levels of Grindstone or the game I just played.

Cell phones are big now. Mine is huge – it could also be a tablet. It is not necessarily pleasant to hold an hour while playing. My right hand often goes numb when I play and I don’t know why. It could be a nerve problem – after five operations on my right arm I still have limited use – or a problem with the circulation in my hands. In any case, it is not pleasant to keep my heavy phone at eye level for more than 10 minutes, let alone an hour. The gooseneck cell phone holder makes playing in bed much more comfortable.

And I think it’s a device that can help a lot of other people too. It’s so easy to fake things like that – the technology has gone too far! – because we don’t understand who it might be useful to, except for someone who is too “lazy” to hold his phone. It happens with many products, such as avocado slicers or glass openers, which are classified as “useless” because they are not understood by people with full, painless mobility in their limbs or hands.

I’ve been playing cellphone video games painlessly over the past week, and I haven’t been able to for years. If I want to wear my cell phone as a floating necklace, I’ll do it damn and I’ll have a great time with it.

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