Wednesday, February 24, 2010

wii little me

Around Christmastime Larry brought home an extra gift he got "for the boys," which was one of those "wii" gaming systems where you stand in front of the TV waving these white controllers in the air in a way that slightly resembles doing a sport. Everyone says that this is better than regular video games because you move your whole arms instead of just the thumbs. Although the boys were happy enough to get it, I wasn't very enthusiastic about bringing yet another time-wasting electronic into the house.

After the initial excitement, guess who was the one spending the most time of all strengthening his elbows? That would be Larry. And then he went and bought another game to upgrade from what came with it, this one called "wii sports resort."

He quickly mastered Frisbee golf and then went on the 100 pin bowling. I observed that he seemed to get a sense of satisfaction out of watching the ball smack down all those bowling pins, sending them flying and bouncing away. It must meet some testosterone-fueled need to dominate, crush and destroy passive objects. Maybe this is a good way to take care of that. But still, not my thing.

But then I found myself with all of this extra free time recently, and the boys have had a lot of days off from school due to breaks and snow days. Desperate to get them away from the TV screen, I had the idea that if I was taking a turn at it then they would be forced to find other things to do. I asked Jeff to show me how the wii worked, and he helped me to set up my avatar. We made a wii little Mindy in a purple shirt, and I kind of liked watching her bopping around on the screen.

I really didn't want to go to all the effort of standing up in front of the TV, so I found a game for flying an airplane that I kind of liked, and I saw that there was one for bicycling that I could do while sitting down.

It seemed silly at first, sitting there on the couch pedaling my arms in the manner that my feet would go, which has very little to do with riding a bicycle, which is the one sportly thing I actually do in real life.

But after a bit of practice I found some things to like about it. The way that the perspective is set up on the screen, you get the feeling that you are actually there, traveling through this happy sunny digitally created place, with the fake wind blowing through my fake avatar hair. And although the pedaling action is weird, to take the corners on the paths you kind of lean over to the side, very similar to steering a real bike, which for me is nearly an instinctive reaction with all of the bike riding I do when there isn't 12 inches of snow on the ground like there is now.

And so I got kind of good at it, and I started to enjoy the false reality of whisking around the island. I think it is the same thing as watching an Imax movie, where your peripheral vision takes in the motion on the screen and your brain and body react as if it was real.

I got so good that I earned the chance to go up a level and unlocked a new course that travels up the side of a volcano on a windy little path. That visual perspective trick was also at work here, and I truly had the feeling that if I didn't keep in control and steer just right, I could fall right to my death by plunging over the rocky cliff.

And then I did!

Ahhhh! It was a horrific moment as I virtually experienced my worst fear of losing control of my bike and plunging to my rocky death below. I closed my eyes because I really didn't want to know if I would see a bloody wii little Mindy lying at the bottom, or being carried off by the wii paramedics to be pronounced dead on arrival and prepped for her wii little funeral.

Alerted by the sound of their mother screaming at the TV, Tim and Jeff appeared to see what was happening. After they got me calmed down, Jeff showed me what to do.

"See mommy, you just go right back to where you were, a little farther behind than before, and then you keep on going."

Of course. As always, he has it exactly right.


Heather Leigh said...

excellent resume enhancing past time, I must say!

Aunt Kathy said...

You gave me a good laugh! I have several "pets" on Yoville game and I worry I'll find them dead when I neglect feeding them!