Controlling Video Games With Your Pee – SEGA Brings Awkward Fun to the Restroom

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Peeing Video Game

Sega's latest bid for video game dominance: fun while you pee.

In the early ’90s, Sega held 65% of the US video game console market, had millions of fans, and was considered one of the premier creators of modern gaming entertainment. Today, they are helping you play with your pee. The Japan branch of the multinational company recently announced that they are testing their Toylets male urinal video game at select locations around Tokyo. Toylets uses a pressure sensor located on the back of the urinal to measure the strength and location of your urine stream. A small LCD screen above the urinal allows you to play several simple video games including a simulator for erasing graffiti and a variation on a sumo wrestling match. At the end of a game, the screen displays advertisements. Normally when I see something like this I would reach for my enormous “WTF, JAPAN?” flag, wave it around a few times and then return to my life without giving it much further thought. However, I can’t seem to get Toylets out of my mind, because I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s secretly brilliant and maybe even a sign of things to come. Whether you find the concept hilarious, disturbing, or disgusting, urinal video games are simply another way that interactive media could invade every part of our lives. It also shows that no space is safe from digital ads.

Peeing Video Game time trial

Don't like graffiti? Who does? Use your urine to wash it away, and compete in this time trial.

First, let’s have a big round of honesty here. How many guys out there have never made a game out of peeing? (Liars.) Sure, it’s childish, but maybe it’s part of the male psyche. Now, look at Toylets. Very weird, very childish, but…c’mon…if it just so happened to be in the bathroom you were using you would play it, right? The game could be enticing to that silly part of you that finds peeing fun, and it definitely is trying to appeal to its (presumably) male audience. According to Sega and Akihabara News, the four types of video games on the Toylets include:

“Mannekin Pis”: a simple measurement of the urine produced.
“Graffiti Eraser”: where you move your urine back and forth to remove paint
“The North Wind and Her”: a game where you play the wind, trying to blow a girl’s skirt up. The stronger you pee, the stronger the wind blows.
“Milk from Nose”: A variation on sumo wrestling, where you try to knock the other player out of the ring using the strength of your urine flow (shown as milk spraying from your nose). The record of your pee is saved and used as the opponent for the next player. So the game is sort of multiplayer. Toylets even lets you save information onto a USB drive! I fear the MMORPG that will arise from this.

Peeing Video Game battle

The Milk from Nose game lets you compete against past users for strongest flow. Pee, pee for victory!

Getting men to enjoy using a urinal is simply one side of the equation, however. Making money is the other. Digital signs are already in many bathrooms in major cities in the US. I remember seeing them in New York back as far back as 2007. Mostly these ads were ignored like all other things in the Men’s restroom. But what if that ad was part of a video game…you might pay more attention to it then. Making advertisements interactive is one of the ways in which the marketing medium is evolving, and you can see that phenomenon everywhere on the internet from Facebook to pop-up ads. The other big innovation, making ads personalized, is also creeping from the digital world into reality. Considering that Toylets allows you to save data to a USB, there are chances we’ll see the same sort of customization available there as well.

Toylets video game

Oh, sure, you'd want to save your high score... WTF, JAPAN!

According to Sega, the Toylets games will be on trial at their testing locations until the end of January 2011. After that, it’s anybody’s guess as to where Sega will take them from there. The era of urinal video gaming could die as quickly as it was born, relegated to the dark corners of WTF history. Or, just maybe, we’ll see more of these interactive bathroom shenanigans in our future. 15 years ago, Sega’s market share fell into the crapper. It would only be fair if the crapper helped them get back on top again.

[image credits: Sega via Akihabara News]
[source: Sega, Akihabara News]

Discussion — 35 Responses

  • Gabriel Alexander January 5, 2011 on 6:32 pm

    Finally! Peeing can be fun now!

  • Jeremy January 5, 2011 on 6:34 pm

    Wait, do different urinals have a preset game, or are we actually supposed to touch the thing and choose one?

    • genevieve Jeremy January 5, 2011 on 7:55 pm

      As a lady, who doesn’t get to play, I am mostly worried about hand washing.

      • Jeremy genevieve January 6, 2011 on 4:10 am

        Well, this is Japan, and squat toilets are still common, so maybe if you are lucky you will get a chance to play.

    • joe brockhaus Jeremy January 11, 2011 on 4:17 pm

      I’d imagine you use your pee to select.

  • Tim S January 5, 2011 on 7:13 pm

    I’m guessing it takes its measurements using a small camera. Can I opt for the urinal without a public camera starring at my junk?

    Also, what about the ladies… no games for them?

    Will this inspire men to go to the bathroom together to play versus mode?
    Is there a two player split-screen co-op mode if you share?

    • kule Tim S January 6, 2011 on 11:30 am

      Quality – your comments cracked me up! :)

  • jb January 6, 2011 on 10:14 am

    When playing in two player mode, will it be considered ‘gay’ to cross the streams?

    • Trek Bristol jb January 6, 2011 on 1:21 pm

      Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
      Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
      Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
      Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
      Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

  • Lol January 6, 2011 on 12:29 pm

    The difference is in Japan almost nothing gets vandalised, here in the UK they would be quickly destroyed!

  • Jambo January 6, 2011 on 1:22 pm

    I wonder if they worked with folks who developed this concept at MIT Media Lab in 2005.
    http://web.media.mit.edu/~hayes/mas863/urinecontrol.html

  • jambo January 6, 2011 on 1:23 pm

    Edit: 2002

  • Etomcat January 6, 2011 on 3:04 pm

    Alphaville: Pee in Japan (1984)
    It’s easy when you pee in Japan,
    Aah when you pee in Japan-tonight…
    Pee in Japan-be-tight…
    Pee in Japan… ooh the eastern sea’s so blue
    Pee in Japan-alright, pay!

  • Jules January 6, 2011 on 3:04 pm

    Shame the name “Wii” is already taken…

  • Kapauldo January 6, 2011 on 3:22 pm

    (posted to pikk) Awesome or Disgusting? Controlling Video Games With Your Pee [POLL] – http://www.pikk.com/803ef

  • Bob Ugiansky January 6, 2011 on 3:50 pm

    Wii-Wii gaming system?

  • doodah January 6, 2011 on 5:00 pm

    Might there be a increased risk of urinary tract infection as players hold their ammo until the last possible moment to give them a performance edge? :)

  • Bill Myspam January 6, 2011 on 8:25 pm

    Guys with enlarged prostates would be at a disadvantage.

  • Marc Bush January 6, 2011 on 9:25 pm

    I think this fits anywhere between “Brilliant” and “Why not?” This looks like fun, and besides for potentially monetizing this, another benefit will be that it will make bathroom clean-up easier. I bet that people will have better accuracy playing a game than they would otherwise. (See the famous Urinal Fly example here – http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_fly_in_urinal.htm)

  • Anton Gauert January 7, 2011 on 1:33 am

    awesome! i hope we will see this things all around the world as soon as possible! #urinal #videogames #japan #fb

  • Bryony January 7, 2011 on 5:41 am

    guys get all the fun :(

  • monkeyrotica January 7, 2011 on 12:37 pm

    In my day, we’d pee on cigarette butts.

  • Fercza January 7, 2011 on 11:29 pm

    The only thing I’ve always envied of boys is that they can pee standing up. Now… it just went to a whole new level.

  • Guest January 8, 2011 on 10:46 pm

    Does anybody know where these are installed???

  • Archive007 January 9, 2011 on 2:31 am

    I’m already training for the International Pissing Championship. I’m sure I can out piss those Japanese boys. Bring on the beer!

  • David January 10, 2011 on 2:12 pm

    In my day, you’d see bullseyes on the wall with the legend “If you can hit this spot, join the fire department!”

    If only I’d realized this was a proposal for a video (piddleo?) game!

  • Ronny January 12, 2011 on 12:30 am

    women now a days have a lot of devices to choose from if they wish to pee standing so that is no longer an issue… the issue now is having these urinals installed in women’s bathrooms and accepted by the masses…just google the products available to pee standing and choose the one best suited to your needs ….maybe some day men’s and lady’s urinals will be linked together for games making it a true battle of the sexes lol … until then happy pissing everyone

    • Rob Ronny January 13, 2011 on 2:25 pm

      Those “her-inal” devices for woman — at least the designs I’ve heard about — may allow a female user to better aim her urine stream, but they don’t provide a way to vary the pressure. (I.e., the pee flows out of the device only as fast as gravity carries it.)

      • Ronny Rob January 16, 2011 on 4:13 pm

        that may be true but don’t forget women have a shorter distance to cover to expel urine in the first place and also have muscle control over it just like guys do and can push or hold back pressure just as well also so a device will not hinder their performance in the least…

  • Sobrien January 12, 2011 on 2:12 pm

    Hmmmm. I can’t get too excited about this.

  • Dags January 12, 2011 on 5:57 pm

    No wonder Sega has become an irrelevant company. Thinking like this would do that.

  • brian January 12, 2011 on 9:24 pm

    So when can I download this on my phone? Or, rather, someone else’s phone?

  • Anonymous January 12, 2011 on 9:33 pm

    I’m not sure why we waste money looking for out-of-this-world intelligent life when we have the Japanese right here….

  • Anonymous January 19, 2011 on 2:19 am
  • Neurosys October 30, 2011 on 2:16 pm

    Dude, wash your USB pen. Seriously.