Posted on Friday 22 February 2008

Ever since I saw the first Atari 2600 video game for the home, I’ve wanted a video game.

Unfortunately we always had “higher” priorities for the household budget. Eventually I discovered computers (for which I squirreled away my pennies at a time until I could afford one. To be truthful, I actually got a credit card dedicated for my computer habit. It lasted for years and my computers kept me busy enough to “ignore” the video games that were coming out.

To be truthful, my youngest daughter actually acquired several old game consoles from either neighbors or garage sales and I did enjoy getting beat by her whenever we played one of her Sonic or car race games. Man she’s a pretty tough competitor ( would like to think that she gets that from her old man…)

I guess it really should not have been a surprise for me then, when she hooked up with a boyfriend who also liked Video games and had himself a Wii. What was a real big surprise was that my wife actually bought me one for our anniversary!

For those who may not have heard of Nintendo’s latest game console, let me just summarize by describing it as the next generation of Video Gaming. It’s like when automatic transmissions were introduced – it made the automobile attractive to everyone. I think that is what the Wii has done for Nintendo. It’s a Video Game, that is made for everyone!

I have a friend of mine, who upon looking at the Wii when it first came out, said that it wasn’t a “real” Video Game Console and that it was designed for little kids (I think he honestly based this comment on the lack of “blood and guts” games that other consoles had.) He predicted that after the initial “flash” of excitement and reactionary buying, that things would settle down and the Wii would only look like a small bump on the road of Video Game improvements.

Some “bump”. It’s been over 14 months now, when it has been almost impossible to find a Wii Console in any number at any store. Unless you want to buy it on E-bay, for almost twice the price. I was reading just yesterday, that the Wii is poised to become the #1 selling Video Game Console in the world (beating the Xbox.)

So what makes the Wii so successful, certainly not “state of the art graphics” or “mature themes”? What it has that no other console has is that it is “interactive” with the player. Instead of just pushing buttons and twisting joysticks, one actually has to hold the controller as if it were a real “device” – be it a baseball bat, tennis racket, fishing rod or bowling ball.

So instead of trying to figure out the myriad number and combinations of buttons when playing a game, one just picks up the remote (game controller) and push the button showed on the TV screen and use it as if it was actually what you were playing. This makes it intuitive and simple and fun – all in one fell swoop.

The result is that EVERYONE can play, from two year olds to 90 year olds and they are! The Wii is becoming a hit in places where people can’t get out. For the first time ever you can go bowling, or play baseball in your own home or room. As a matter of fact I just had my two grandsons (two and four years old) along with their parents over for a fun Wii night (the boys favorite game so far is baseball!)

Because so many of these interactive games are physical (like tennis or baseball) one can actually get a good workout, without having to go outside! Be warned however, the Wii remote comes with a wrist strap, which should be clipped securely on the wrist. There has been more than one television taken out by someone flinging the Wii accidentally at the screen! This has happened so often that Panasonic is actually starting to “harden” some of it’s larger screens to avoid possible “accidental” damage in future!

I see now that the Wii is now attracting the “blood and guts” game developers, but thankfully there are also more and more “fun” games coming out as well, with plenty of sports games to boot. I’m really looking forward to Deca Sports which should be coming out this summer.

Virtual curling….. What more could you ask for!!

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