Going to the bathroom at a bar isn’t usually an experience I revel in—believe it or not, I don’t enjoy being in small, filthy spaces with flatulent fat dudes and sticky floors. But on a recent visit to the The King & Queen pub on Cleveland Street in London, I couldn’t find enough excuses to pop to the loo. In fact, I was downing imperial pints of Adnams Southwold Bitter just to gather up ammunition for my next excursion. That’s because the lavatories at this particular pub, and presumably many others across Britain, double as grungy arcades, where games are powered by a stream of your own urine.
Here’s how it works: You walk up to the trough-style urinal and position yourself in front of a screen that’s labelled, rather brilliantly, “The Whizzard.” Suddenly, a truck appears on the monitor, revving its engine on the starting line of a race track. 3, 2, 1…the competition begins, and you realize that the only thing controlling the car’s progress is your pee. Hitting a target positioned directly in front of you causes the truck to accelerate, while targets to the left and right allow you to maneuver it on the track in order to avoid obstacles and collect power-ups.
Since I was rolling hands-free in London, here’s some footage my cousin Sam captured of the game—don’t worry, he managed to avoid an unfortunate schlong shot:
To be fair, there are a couple obvious problems with this game. Firstly, it only lasts as long as your stream, so unless you’ve been holding in a pee for a few hours, your time on the track is pretty limited. And secondly, if you got a little overzealous trying to pull off a last-second swerve, it seems a little too easy to splash a fellow patron with pee shrapnel.
All that said, the pee game definitely made trips to the toilet a lot more enjoyable. And since British beer-drinking is a stamina event—more of a test of your bladder capacity than your ability to remain standing—it makes sense to turn urinating into part of the fun. At very least, it’s a big technological step up from the crap game where you pee on a plastic soccer ball to make it go into a miniature goal—that’s just patronizing.
The Whizzard and other games of its ilk might be old news to some of you, but I had never encountered them before. I did a little Googling and found that “playable pee stations” started to crop up around the UK a few years ago, and they’ve also been installed by Sega in Japan. The games include steering skiing penguins, answering trivia questions, and causing wind to blow under a women’s skirt (no prizes for guessing which country that last one comes from).
Here’s a closer look at one company, Captive Games, that is popular in Britain:
And here’s the Japanese version, operated by a Manneken-Pis–like robot:
Here’s hoping that these urinal games gain more traction in the U.S. beyond sports venues. Even if they do, though, we’ll still lack the other key perk of British WCs, which is hilarious blokes storming in and saying things like, “Hasta la pasta—I’m going to the brass house!” One cultural miracle at a time…
Speaking of which, is there a women’s version of this? Let us know, ladies.