Wii the People

Steph and Susie went to MicroCenter Friday night, ostensibly to buy me a new printer.  When they came home, they had the new printer, but there was more… a Nintendo Wii.  This was something we had considered for at least a year, and finally the set’s beckoning call was too great to ignore.

After the nightmare of unpacking it and setting it up, we christened it with Wii Bowling.  Bowling was the only sport that even remotely held my interest as a child (or afterwards), and the only sport I ever enjoyed playing, despite my poor showing.  (As a child, I would pick up a bowling ball with both hands, carefully set it down in front of the foul line, and push it off with both hands.  You could pick up a sandwich and a cup of coffee, plus read a section of the newspaper, by the time the ball made contact with the pins.)  Of the three of us, I won with 100 points, and managed to make the only strike in the game.

Steph and I went to the auction and dinner at church last night, so Susie had free reign to play the Mario Brothers games that came with the Wii.  While she was at church for youth group, I went to Target and bought Steph an early birthday present–a Band Hero Band Kit.  Setting up the drum and cymbal set was easy, as was assembling the guitar, but we were completely in the dark about how to play until we went through a step-by-step tutorial.  That game is one I will pretty much leave to Steph and Susie.  Unlike them, I have had absolutely no musical training.

I was favorably impressed by the graphics and the realism in the games.  We’re not planning on buying any of ther Grand Theft Auto games or their spinoffs, but they remind me of one of the earliest video game controversies, when I was in junior high.

The game in dispute at that time was something called Death Race. The player would sit down with a steering wheel and an accelerator, and the screen would be full of stick people running around.  Your car would appear on the screen, and the idea was to run down the stick people.  When you did, the machine would let out this horrible blood-curdling scream, and a little cross would pop up.  If there were two players, whoever had the most tombstones at the end of the game won.  The graphics were quite primitive, and the violence level was nothing compared to what would follow in the next three decades, but people were outraged enough that Death Race quickly disappeared from arcades, and functional game sets fetch a pretty penny on eBay and elsewhere.

Video games were never my strong suit.  I did quite well in pinball, back in the days when breaking 100 thousand points was spectacular, and heralded by a free game, lots of bells and fanfare, and every light on the machine illuminated.  I fared decently with the early Pong games (we had one hooked to our TV), but by the time of Pac-Man, Defender, Tempest, and Missile Command, I was spending too many quarters and earning too few points.

Eye-hand coordination is essential for success in video games, and mine is not that good.  (Even there, that’s not 100% true, since I am a very fast typist with only my index fingers.)

To further humble myself, I played Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader? with Steph and Susie tonight.  In my first game, I bombed out after the $2000 question, but in the second one, I was up to $100 thousand before I flunked out.  Steph, on the other hand, is smarter than a fifth-grader.

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