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game theory Feeling forever young is no feat with today’s buffet of gizmo and gadgets BY Kim Visudharomn

Above “Controlled-ler” (2006) Acrylic on canvas artwork by Dyn/Asian Art Options

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Last month, I found myself in the enviable situation of holidaying at the hotel of parental pampering; for those who are unfamiliar with such circumstances, it happens when a working bird, shot down from its daily grind and disastrous undertakings, returns to the nest for a recharging hiatus and much needed TLC under the warm wings of mama and papa bird. The humble abode had remained unchanged, except for a Wii, which had somehow worked its way into our otherwise tech-retarded home. Thus began my close encounter with “Mario Party 8” and the Nintendo phenomenon. Now, it must be said that when my siblings and I were growing up, my parents, upon hearing horror stories of bespectacled students losing both eyesight

and study scholarships to the likes of “Pro Evolution Soccer 6”, had banned the presence of any and all PlayStations, Cubes, Xboxes and oblongs from our premises. So, when I saw the Wii staring me down one Sunday morning, I had to inquire about its sudden emergence in my home. According to my mother, it was mostly to appease my teenage brother’s incessant pleading, though she was quite easily swayed when she saw how its slender design slipped so nicely between “War of the Worlds” and “Wuthering Heights” on her pristine white bookcase. Functionality and form may go hand in hand, but it is the latter that has stolen the forefront position in influencing our purchases (as the sleek iPod that Apple

Left With its chrome-finished details and sleek silhouette, the “11” would look more at home in a museum than a frathouse Below Your all-access ticket to exclusive events is in these Armrevolution cufflinks Bottom The Tenori-on digital turntable puts music at your fingertips — literally

has built its billion-dollar MP3 player empire on will attest). Though their duality is essential, form satisfies our most fundamental desire to possess objects that are pleasing to the eye. Hence, the Wii, with its irresistibly smart white facade and its supermodelskinny frame has emerged prom queen amongst gaming consoles, deserting its frumpy predecessors in a distant memory of cable tangles and clumsy horizontal disk trays. According to research firm Digital Marketing Services, the average video game player — far from the stereotypical geeky teenage boy — is aged 30, and women over 40 spend more hours online playing games than said teenage boy. Needless to say, such a promising market has not gone unnoticed. In the cutthroat market of gadgetry where new models are spat out and chewed up by the day, innovation has become necessary in pushing product sales. Tech trends of reinvention and multi-purpose capabilities have been on the rise for some time now, and in recent years, their integration has lead to collaborative efforts in such fields as fashion and product design. The end result is a fresh batch of newfangled toys that have shifted their cursor from a youth-orientated demography to targeting the inner child within. In its pursuit of a more adult audience, the industry has turned to designs doubling as progressive pieces of furniture and fashion accessories, elevating the appliances’ status from plain gadgets to glorified artistic installations. Take, for example, accessories brand Armrevolution’s cufflinks. To “create the most innovative cufflink brand in the world”, Armrevolution has designed a series of cufflinks or “arm architecture” that have each been embedded with a unique serial number, allowing the wearer access to exclusive events and the Armrevolution website. In short, the brand will do away with membership cards and barcodes, permitting consumers to literally wear elite chic on their sleeves. Another groundbreaking contraption is the Tenorion, Yamaha’s latest offering in an age of digital musicality. Designed by Japanese artist Toshio Iwai, the compact handheld instrument, consists of a screen of 16 x 16 LED switches encased within a magnesium frame. A flick of the switches emits various sounds from the two in-built speakers, while dials and buttons at the top of the frame allow users to control the type and speed of the beat. To heighten your sweet musicmaking experience, the connective interfaces permits users to play synchronized sessions, as well as send and receive songs between two devices. The portable turntable, enhanced by its “visible music” capabilities, is a fantastic fusion of light and sound, which recently concluded its premiere world tour in April this year. Tech-savvy clothes and toys barely scratch the surface; staying one step ahead of the Joneses nowadays requires you to furnish with the most modern gizmos money can buy. The Arcade Table attempts to disguise itself as a coy coffee counter, though the protruding cherry-red knobs and buttons are dead giveaways of its gaming capabilities. Encased

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in sleek stainless steel, the formidable standalone structure boasts the likes of “Donkey Kong”, “Pacman”, “Galaga” and 45 other pre-installed arcade classics all to be played out on a color-screen tabletop (remember to coaster those beers). Traditional blips and bleeps, and brick-by-brick pixel displays may leave much to be desired by the standards of today’s blood-gushing graphics, but it is likely that The Arcade Table’s target consumers do not belong to Generation Pokemon but rather to the neon haze of nearly two decades ago. Such is the new school of thought that old-school gadgets are scrambling back under the surgical pen of design teams. Nipped and tucked, these games are repackaged and reborn as larger-than-life gizmos, saturating our senses in sleek designs, surround sound, and superb visuals, while capitalizing on our nostalgia with familiar characters and old plays. A hybrid breed of new-old consoles has landed, combining contemporary forms of the future with comforting memories of the past. Similar in its purpose to profit from evocative thoughts of yesteryear is the “11”. Launched during Milan Design Week 2008 and named for the number of players on field in a football team, the 11 is a recreational throwback to when table football — or “foosball”, as the baggy-breeches brats called it — monopolized our leisure. The 11 adheres to the simple rules of its forerunner, but the aesthetic of the archetype has been significantly altered. Gone are the plastic players sporting painted-on shorts and bowl-cut hairdos, to be replaced by sleek, curvaceous chrome silhouettes. The traditional wooden playing table has morphed into a galactic bathtub, its curvilinear figure inspired by the grandiose architecture of stadiums the world over. It is sleek, it is stunning, it is the only prototype in existence. Still, expect to see the 11 in the childless sitting room of a shamelessly rich neighbor real soon.

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Games and gadgets are powerful mechanisms, facilitating our escape from reality, even if only for an hour or two. They speak of our material standings while nurturing our competitive nature — albeit at times to an unhealthy extent. One night, huddled amidst the masses of cushy throw pillows, I began to plot my revenge against Mario. “You’re going down, you dodgy Italian typecast,” my grumbles punctuated by a crack of the knuckles. At that moment, I truly — with many thanks to the Wii — felt like a crazy kid again. q

CONTACT INFORMATION Nintendo Wii www.wii.com Armrevolution cufflinks www.armrevolution.com Tenori-on www.global.yamaha.com/design/tenori-on The Arcade Table www.arcadetables.com.au 11 www.eleventhegame.com

Above “Space Invaded” (2005) Acrylic on canvas artwork by Dyn/Asian Art Options


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