Wednesday, March 14, 2007
My very adult addiction
When my husband first told me he was going to buy a Wii video game console, I humored him, but I couldn't help thinking I was indulging his juvenile inclinations. I had stopped playing video games when my Atari console went obsolete in middle school. But early one icy morning last month, he waited in line for four hours in front of the Nintendo store in hopes of snagging one of the hard-to-find sets, and came home triumphant, his arms wrapped around his fancy new Wii.

Good for you, I said.

Fast forward to two Saturdays later, when I woke up with a sore arm. The night before had been a Wii marathon. Friends had come over to play, and the living room heated up as we duked it out in boxing matches and bowling rounds. After they left, I continued to practice the tennis game against the computer, serving and backhanding, until I had reached "pro" status. I paid the price all that Saturday, barely able to move my arm, but satisfied at my performance. I was addicted.

That's why I wasn't surprised to learn that some people have started to use the Wii as a weight-loss tool. A Los Angeles Times article cites one man whose only exercise was to play his Wii for 30 minutes a day, and he lost nine pounds over six weeks. Online Wii fitness communities have started to sprout up too. Another article talks about the potential benefit for physically challenged or elderly people to have some physical activity while in the comfort of their living rooms.

It's not the first video game that's been hailed for its fitness benefits. We did a story a while back about John Polchowski, a teenager who played Dance Dance Revolution every day for one or two hours and shed 70 pounds in a year. A Mayo Clinic researcher did a study showing kids who play active video games such as DDR and the Sony EyeToy expend roughly double the energy of kids playing sedentary video games.

And then there are the brain fitness games, like the Nintendo Brain Age, which is supposed to challenge your mind with various activities including quick math calculations. Your score reflects how "old" your brain is. Proponents have touted its ability to keep minds sharp and even to potentially stave off Alzheimer's disease.

Video games have clearly evolved. So should we accept that they are a part of our lives and can even be good for our kids, or should we always push children away from the TV set and make them do other stuff? Is there a reasonable compromise?
wow! that's a nice story... i tried it once at my friends house, and i fell inlove with it. at first, i thought they were just making up the stories about body pain and other pain you get when playing wii. when i tried it, it was true! sweat comes out of your body playing for about 30 minutes. i wanted to have one really bad, but you cant find any unit anywhere. aside from that, i dont have the cash to pay for it. for now, i'll visit my friend more often.
I was a kid in the 80's and 90's when many kids had some form of home or personal gaming system. I'm in my late twenties and I have about three hooked up to the tv at home. I don't play them often, but they're there and that seems very normal to me.
My husband got a Wii not long ago and we both now play Wii Sport on a regular basis. I find boxing practice to be the biggest workout. We have a couple more games, one of them a role playing game in which the player is an emergency room doctor.
I have a Nintendo DS where I like to play Brain Age and Animal Crossing, a simulation of country life, on my train commute home. Very relaxing.
I think that video games are ubiquitous, like television, and that keeping them from kids is going to be impossible. If you don't let them play video games at home, they'll play video games at their friends' houses. I don't think it necessary to keep them from video games either because that doesn't automatically mean a kid's interest will shift from video games to athletics, academics or church, nor do I think video games are harmful in and of themselves. Play is a vital part of human life and video games are a lot of fun and a great escape from stress. I think the key is to give kids a reason to want to get away from the video games. It can be empowering to live vicariously through a heroic character but to prefer it over real life signals trouble not with the video game but within the kid's life.
The Wii, on the other hand, I think is a good compromise for families where the kids want video games but the parents don't want their kids clicking buttons like zombies for hours on end. I think what's also good about Wii is that it can be physically stimulating without being boring for kids too embarrassed by their size or lack of physical strength to play outside or play sports with other kids.
I played the Wii with a couple of friends last week and was very disappointed with it. I boxed against a 12 yr old (I am in my 40's) and SHE kicked my butt! I strutted my stuff like I was Rocky and she sat on the couch, yes sat, and waved her arms haphazardly in the air and beat me. No challenge at all. As for the bowling, once you know where to aim, its pretty much boring. Is it healthy for kids? Yes and no. They should be outside getting sun and fresh air, but with 81 sexual offenders (7 of which are predators) living within 5 miles of my home, I'll buy my daughter a Wii before I buy her a bicycle. Isn't it a shame that we have to change our lifestyle in fear that our children will become prey!
My husband and I play almost every night and a coworker of mine has one too.. We've all experienced the pain but the gain of the benefits too! We are losing weight and it's amazing!
Give me a break!get a life!
I have Nintendo wii and I love it. I work up a sweat and my heart rate goes up. And it has actually made me want to get back into working out (I got out of my work out routine for several reasons in June 2006)! I do not have children so I am speaking from that perspective. If you are hesitant about video games systems, but your kids want one, this is it! Not only will it be good for your kids, but you can play with them. It actually requires hand eye coordination. Days spent outside are also good for kids and adults. But For example, parents who do not feel their neighborhoods are safe enough to let their kids out, this is a good way to pass the time.
Thank you for bringing this up! I think that video games have unfairly been made the scapegoat for all our social ills that individuals and families and communities don't want to take responsibility for, and their current and potential benefits are, accordingly, generally ignored. I see video games as the future of entertainment, of exercise, and of education as well. Its interactive format is appealing and engaging, whatever the focus, and people really respond. I think that rather than limit a child's access to video games, there should be more video games geared toward exercise and education, and that textbook information could come alive if game designers partnered with schools to put educational games in schools (everything from history, math, geography, art, etc could be worked into interactive games that give kids a kind of hands-on experience working with information and problemsolving. And schools could integrate DDR or eyetoy exercise games into gym and/or recess classes. Times and technologies change, and we should stop trying to stop progress by blaming technology for social ills - that same technology could be the answer to so many problems.
Check out Rayman Raving Rabbids. Very high energy game for the Wii. Good exercise, fun, and a great "party" game.
I wish Nintendo would design a Wii game specifically for working out.
Growing up in a working class family...we turned to TV / video games as our babysitter...did they rot my brain?? As far as I can tell...quite the opposite. Tv and games can be beneficial in moderation...its all about balance...
My husband also brought home a wii. I was not very happy about it at first, but once I saw the games, I realized that there might be something positive about this gaming system. I have to admit, the bowling has me hooked. After playing all afternoon one Saturday, I could really feel it in my arm. Better than sitting in front of a computer.
I am baffled. Why not actually go bowling? Why not actually learn to box? We live in a world of bizarre simulacra.
I think that the exercise benefits of interavtive games are great;however, the is NO substitute for an afternoon outside passing the football w/ my little girl and getting beaten by her at HORSE. Sometimes we even let my husband in on the fun ;-). We all love to ride our bikes as well. All of this is not only exercise but family bonding. As for sexual predators mentioned by one blogger my child never goes out alone. Rarely, I wiil let her go out alone IF she STAYS in front of the window, and I keep my eyes on her at all times. We live on two acres with the house set away from the road, but I take NO chances when it comes to my child.
Why not go bowling? Thats a great question. I have carpel tunnel syndrome, I have been unable to bowl for about 9 years now, its just too painful. For some people, alternates may be needed for your "normal" lifestyle. What works for you may not work for another. Thanks to the Wii I can kind of bowl again.
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