In Paris, I Learnt A Few Things About Video Games (And Toilets)

I went to Paris last weekend, which is an extravagant thing to do if you live in New York and should probably be making shorter weekend commutes. But I had a rare chance to go and so off I went, out Thursday overnight, back Monday afternoon.

I wasn't supposed to be working, but I can't shut off the video-game-reporter part of my brain. While on vacation I did a little work. For your benefit!

That "work" mostly involved snapping photos and learning valuable lessons (mostly) about playing video games as an American in Paris.


You will not escape the ads for Max Payne 3. It was the only video game I saw advertised in the Paris Metro and on the streets of the city, but it was also one of the things I saw advertised the most.

Fun fact: There were also lots of ads for The Avengers move, which was already out there. Weird.

Lesson 2

Nintendo doesn't want you charging your American 3DS in European electrical sockets. For some dopey reason, Nintendo's official 3DS charger can't handle the voltage of French electrical sockets, even with a necessary travel plug converter connecting the charge cable to a Parisian outlet. A basic travel converter lets you plug in any American-style flat prongs into a European-style socket that takes cylindrical prongs. That's all the gear you need for plugging in and charging an iPad, laptop, iPhone or Vita (trust me, I did all that), but the 3DS will just sit there not taking any juice.

There is a solution! Well, there are probably two fixes: one would be to get a voltage converter, but why? The better solution, the one I used, was to buy a USB charger for the 3DS. I was able to use it to charge my 3DS off my laptop — and also off the back of the seat in the Swiss Air plane I flew to go home.

Lesson 3

They're trying to sell the Vita in Europe, which is more than I can say for any other gaming hardware. Ads for any other hardware were nowhere to be found. I even saw a guy using a Vita... to take a picture of a dog.

I didn't see anyone using a 3DS, but I picked up plenty of people via the system's StreetPass while walking through Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport.

Lesson 4

For some reason there is a lot of video-game-based graffiti in Paris.

It's everywhere!


Lesson 5

There's nothing special about Parisian game shops. The selection is pretty much what you'd get in America. That is the opposite of what you experience in many of the Parisian comic shops (of which there are tons, including an entire street, Rue Dante, that's full of them!).

I might as well have been outside a GameStop.

Lesson 6

The 3DS' 3D camera is a champ when you're taking photos in the Rodin sculpture museum, but it can't handle the Eiffel Tower. It's great with close-ups, but it can't pop any decent 3D with anything — say, a building! — that's more than a few feet away from you. (Download several 3DS pics I took of the sites from this Dropbox link.)

Here is a special piece of possibly-painfully-obvious advice to aspiring 3DS photo-takers who wish to aim their Nintendo portable at tall structures: don't turn your 3DS to snap a vertical photo. You can only see the system's 3D effect when you are holding the machine horizontally. So if you photograph the Eiffel Tower with the system held vertically, you'll only be able to watch the Eiffel Tower pop into 3D on the machine while the system is horizontal. But holding the 3DS horizontally would leave a vertically-photographed Tower on its side.

Lesson 7

The miracle public toilets in Paris clean themselves as soon as you step out of them, scrubbing their toilets and floors through some arcane magic.

This is apparently not new, but, my god, it is amazing.

Lesson 8

Flight attendants still refer to portable gaming machines as Game Boys (when they're telling passengers which electronics can be used after takeoff). I think they're the only people on the planet who still do this.


    Also those self washing toilets are everywhere in Australia. As is Avengers. Good to see them advertising the Vita there though, I mentioned to a few people here that I got one recently to which they replied "What's that?"... *shudders*

      yeah the toilets have been in Perth at least since 10+ years ago.

    A lot of the video game inspired street art over there is the product of a guy who calls himself' Space Invader'. Learnt all about it on a walking tour of Paris last year.

    When I was in Paris there was an insane amount of Rocky Balboa billboards in 2008. Like an INSANE amount. They like what they like. :P

    I know you won't see this but, most cheap american chargers (as in, ones that aren't a large brick type) aren't able to handle European (or Australian for that matter) chargers as they are designed for 110 volts, while Europe (and Australia) use 240. Larger power bricks are more likely (but not always, check before plugging in, I won't be held responsible for fried chargers/electronics) to have multiple voltage support.

    Also, with video game shops, unless you are either in a Japan (where there are many themed game shops, as well as regular ones), or in a country where most games sold are pirate copies(and even then, the largest cities should have legit copies available), the vast majority of dedicated game stores will pretty much have the same selection of games (though there will be pricing differences, and issues with regions). The video game store has pretty much found its ideal form these days (that is, focus on the games, and game consoles, and occasionally pre-built PCs, rarely will you see individual components for sale outside a dedicated computer hardware store, and those will rarely have games that aren't a part of a bundle with hardware).

    I'm living in Paris at the moment and most things here are backwards in comparison to what I'm used to in Australia.

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