Tricks Aren’t Just for Kids

June 24, 2008 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

emember that thumb-separating trick you did when you were a kid? If you tried it today, your friends would probably kick you in the crotch (Am I the only one with violent friends?). But do it in Japan and you might actually get people OOH-ing and AHH-ing in amazement.

Quick, visual gags go a long way in Japan. And now they’ve gone high-tech. Imagine yourself coaxed into going to the beer garden with the boss after work. You’re a 21-year-old new recruit and he’s a grumbling 65-year-old with whom you have nothing in common. You have no idea what to talk to him about. So what do you do? Take out your iPhone and entertain him this:

It’s called iBeer and it’s one of many silly applications created for Apple’s iPod/iPhone line. When my brother in Japan told me how happy he was to finally get his iTouch last October (iPhone is set for release on July 11), I knew it was the start of a new trend. He quickly downloaded iBeer and started showing his friends how many he could chug without getting drunk. And then came others: iBug (a potato beetle runs around your screen), iWash (a bikini girl squeegees your screen), iWater (you get the idea), iPopcorn, iX-ray…

Then recently a Japanese guy created iPong:

I’m assuming it’s not just a visual trick and that it’s using the Touch’s built-in Wi-Fi to bounce around all three screens. The application’s creator, Kondo-san, only programmed for one ball to be used, but in the future he’ll offer more balls to create havoc on the screen. It looks like fun and opens the mind to other possibilities with this kind of technology.

Americans might underestimate the demand for utterly inane forms of entertainment like this in Japan. But believe me, whether you’re out with coworkers or new friends, mindless distractions are a necessary form of social lubrication. Very seldom are Japanese (that I know at least) keen on getting into impassioned talks about personal views. Unless you really know the person you keep the conversation light. Very light. So after exhausting all discussion points on today’s weather, what do you do? Take out your iPod of course, and have a beer! (^_^)/


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June 2008