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Playboy's Cyber Girl Jo Garcia hawks PlayStation Vita in Chicago

  • Jo Garcia holds some Playstation Vitas at the Vita Hill Social Club at 1444 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Jo Garcia holds some Playstation Vitas at the Vita Hill Social Club at 1444… (Martin Reisch )
February 02, 2012|By Ryan Smith | For RedEye

Chicagoans anxious to get their hands on the PlayStation Vita—Sony’s newest handheld device landing in stores Feb. 22—can get a test spin this month in Wicker Park.

Sony has opened a temporary "pop-up" store at 1444 N. Milwaukee Ave. that lets inquiring gamers hang out and try out Vita for free. Chicago is one of the eight U.S. cities hosting the exclusive Vita showcase, dubbed the “Vita Hill Social Club,” through Feb. 27.

To hype the store’s appearance in Chicago's epicenter of cool, Sony's social partner Playboy threw an RSVP-only party Feb. 1 featuring Jo Garcia—Playboy's 2008 Cyber Girl of the Year and creator of playboy.com’s “Gamer Next Door” gaming blog.

Garcia talked to RedEye about what we should expect from the Vita and how she is still fighting off stereotypes about being a hot female gamer.

What are these “Vita Hill Social Clubs” all about?
I think Sony wanted to get the word out about the Vita and because it didn’t launch for Christmas, the smart thing was to create these popup stores across the U.S. so people can get 1-on1 time with it. There’s nothing that can sell a device better than you playing with it for yourself. It’s something you need to touch and feel to appreciate.

How do you think gamers will respond to the Vita?
I think it’s going to be wildly played and appreciated. Not only can you play high-definition games on it—no one is going to beat the looks of the game—but there’s Wi-Fi and 3G capability and people can surf the web and keep up with their friends on a smaller device than an iPad or tablet. The diversity of the games that will be available at launch is amazing. Usually you get little dorky games at launch, but you’re seeing big name titles this time.

A lot of people would be surprised that brands like Playboy and PlayStation would be mixing. Are there still a lot of negative stereotypes attached to gaming?
It still exists, but for me it’s a little bit different. For me it’s not because I’m a female, it’s because I’m a Playboy girl, and they don’t put those worlds together. The obvious reaction is that this girl is probably too preoccupied with shopping, her hair, going clubbing and manhunting to play a video game. But I average about six hours a day. I make some guys look bad as far as time spent. I’m a Playboy girl who happens to be addicted to video games in the worst way.

The most recent statistic from the ESA says that 42 percent of gamers are women—a greater portion of gamers than boys 17 and younger.” Does that surprise you?
Nope, it doesn’t surprise me at all. With social platforms and the Wii and companies creating more games that are more friendly to family, they naturally bring in women. And then it becomes like a gateway drug where women eventually get into more hardcore games.

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