Most gaming headsets work to isolate the player from outside distractions, using closed-back designs, thick ear cups, and sometimes even active noise cancelling to immerse the player in the world of the game. This isolation doesn’t help you much if you’re worried about a crying baby or are sitting on the bus, though; there are some gaming situations where it’s beneficial to know what’s going on around you while you’re gaming.
It’s situations like these that AfterShokz’s Gamez Wireless Mobile Gaming Headset markets towards; since the headset uses bone conduction instead of traditional headphone speakers, you can hear more of the world around you than traditional earbuds.
There’s nothing about this headset that makes it specially adapted for gaming, though; it’s just a repainted version of the AfterShokz Bluez 2S headset. Though it’s good for light gaming or music, it can become pretty uncomfortable quickly if it’s not properly positioned, and some may find themselves bothered by the constant vibrations of bone conduction.
When I say that the Gamez headset is a repainted Bluez 2S, I mean that 100%: when you power the headset on, “Audrey’s” voice says, “Welcome to Bluez 2S” in your ear. It even says “Bluez 2S” when you pair it via Bluetooth to a device. It seems that all they’ve really changed between the Gamez model and the Bluez 2S model is the Forest Green paint job, which is a decent color, but doesn’t do much to augment its gaming capabilities. Designed as a mobile headset, it’s marketed for use with cell phones and tablets, though since it pairs as a general-purpose Bluetooth headset, it could technically also be used with a PS4 or PC as well. The headset includes a noise-cancelling inline mic; though I was able to use it for phone calls, people on the other end of the line seemed to have trouble hearing me.
Really though, using the Gamez headset is all about the bone conduction, and it sounds pretty good for a non-traditional pair of headphones. Sound comes out of a small speaker and combines with vibrations channeled through the cheekbone directly to the cochlea, meaning that you expose the eardrums to far less noise and potential for damage, plus leave the eardrums open to ambient noise. The vibration can be pretty intense when listening to bass-heavy music or when playing games with a lot of explosions; I found that I preferred to use them with calmer, fantasy-style games like Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf, since the constant buzzing in more action-oriented titles felt tiring after a while. Still, the sound quality itself was pretty good; highs felt fairly crisp and clean, and even when there was a bit of bass, it was still fun to feel the rumbling from time to time.
I also have to point out that my head is larger than most, which means that non-adjustable devices tend to give me a bit of trouble. Proper positioning with the AfterShokz Gamez headset is key; placing them too close to the eardrum increases the buzzing feedback, while placing them too far forward provided too much tension, hurting after 10-15 minutes of use. It takes some time to find the proper seating, and though I had a couple other people try them as well, we each had to experiment a bit to find a fit that was good for us. Other AfterShockz models are more appropriate for more active tasks; after finding a good fit with the Gamez headset, I found that I wanted to move my head as little as possible.
Overall, the AfterShokz Gamez Wireless Mobile Gaming Headset may be a good choice for people who consistently need to be aware in their surroundings, or for people who have damage to their eardrums and need an alternative listening device. Still, the average gamer will likely want to go for a more traditional headset, and at a $99 price point there are plenty of other appealing options to search for. Keep these in mind if you want an alternate headset or really care about using bone conduction, but more dedicated gaming headsets will serve your gaming purposes better.