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

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I got the “gag gift” at Secret Santa, but it actually rules

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Deputy news editor Nicole Carpenter using her phone holder neck thing Photo: Nicole Carpenter

On Saturday, I went to a holiday party that was hosting a White Elephant swap — a Secret Santa-style gift exchange with random gifts that participants steal from each other, rather than actively swap.

We sat in a circle and rolled dice to determine who gets what. After about a half hour of swapping, the gifts were opened and settled. There were coffee beans, candles, and lots of booze. Someone ended up with lotto tickets; another got a Golden Girls Chia pet. (Sophia, if you’re wondering.)

I unwrapped my gift and found the Aduro Lounger, described as a “universal adjustable neck mount,” in a neutral gray hue. It took a few seconds for everyone in the room to recognize this item for what it is: a device that is, essentially, a wearable selfie stick.

The box lists its merits: Film makeup tutorials! Spy on people behind you! Watch videos without using your hands! You know, things people do!

I immediately took it out of the box and, to the party’s delight, started fiddling with it. I pulled and stretched at it to get the screen at the correct height. I opened up a game Grindstone, of course — to test it out.

A woman I didn’t know tapped my shoulder and pointed at her husband, a man that was laughing so hard he was crying, and said, “My husband loves your sense of humor!”

They thought I was doing a bit.

No, friends. It actually rules. I will not be embarrassed by the best gaming peripheral of the year. And if you want or need to use it, you shouldn’t be embarrassed either.

I’m not a commuter. I work from home and am at my laptop for most of the day. This is great, and I love it — especially when I remember how bad Boston’s train system is. I used to live an hour from my job, and it often took me much longer due to train delays.

The thing I do miss, though, is having an hour or so for fiddling with games on my phone; I had my standby games that I played when I wanted something I knew was good, but there were other times when I spent the ride digging through the App Store to find hidden gems. I no longer have those two “free” hours per day where I’m stuck in a metal tube, so my phone time is regulated to before bed.

With the launch of Apple Arcade, I don’t have to do the curating part as much; I can just lay down before bed and play a few levels of Grindstone or whatever game I’m tapped into at the time.

Phones are big now. Mine’s huge — it might as well be a tablet. It’s not necessarily comfortable to hold for an hour while playing games. My right hand often goes numb when I’m playing, and I’m not sure why. It might be a nerve issue — after five surgeries on my right arm, I still have limited use of it — or a problem I have the circulation in my hands. Either way, it’s not pleasant to grip and hold my heavy phone at eye level for longer than 10 minutes, let alone an hour. The goose neck phone holder makes the experience of playing games in bed a lot more enjoyable.

And I think it’s a device that could help out a lot of other folks, too. It’s so easy to goof on things like this — Technology has gone too far! — because we don’t understand who it could be useful for, except for someone deemed too “lazy” to hold their phone. It happens with a lot of products, like avocado slicers or jar openers, deemed “useless” because they’re not understood by people who have full, painless mobility in their limbs or hands.

I’ve played mobile video games pain-free for the past week, and that’s something I hadn’t been able to do in years. If I want to wear my phone as a levitating necklace, I will, dang it, and I’m going to have a great time doing it.

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