Chapter 12

Make Room for the Wii

Game Consoles and the Construction of Space

Ben Aslinger

On April Fools' Day 2011, the popular gaming site IGN released a fake press release from PopCap Games profiling the upcoming UK and Ireland Christmas launch of the PlayWave, the first microwave game console (IGN 2011). With a touch screen in the door, the game Bejeweled preloaded into the device, and a “playtime” setting that cooked food according to a player's progress in the game, PopCap Games' fictional product satirized the growing proliferation of devices on which consumers can access and play games and the move of gaming away from the television-connected console into new spaces and new technologies. While humorous, the press release from the casual games developer highlighted an element of truth that lay beneath the April Fools' stunt—that so-called casual games signal profound changes in the gaming industry and that a multiplication of gaming platforms raises questions about how, where, and when we will play. By choosing to fictionally embed game technology into a kitchen appliance, PopCap Games also humorously highlighted a move away from highly masculinized game consoles to technologies associated with the kitchen, domesticity, and cultural constructions of femininity.

In January 2011, Sega began testing a new device called the Toylet in locations around Tokyo (Geere 2011; Parfitt 2011). Attached to urinals in men's restrooms, Toylets allow men to use the force and direction of urine ...

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