Bringing the Outdoors, Indoors

It’s all about the effort.

First, it was the drive-through. Errands involving banking, fast food and hot drinks became easier to complete with little more effort than it takes to apply pressure to the gas peddle and activate the power window control.

Next, fax and email put trips to the post office on the road to almost-obsolete.

Now, thanks to the Nintendo Wii, it is no longer necessary to leave the comfort of our own home to engage in activities such as tennis, bowling, baseball and golf.

Without renovating, remodeling or turf building, my home has been transformed into a high-tech sports venue.

The effort required to play these virtual games is much less than the effort involved in obtaining the Wii this past holiday season.

I was shocked to realize that shopping four weeks prior to Christmas was not an adequate period of time to allow myself to find this wildly popular game system. I refused to run from store to store, or to join a line at 5:00 AM, as one clerk informed me would be necessary if I was at all serious about wrapping up a Wii.

My husband searched the on-line auction he dubbed “Wii-bay” and found hundreds were available…often for hundreds of dollars more than the price in the store.

We reluctantly gave up and moved on to the next item on our son’s wish list which sent us on yet another fruitless search for a video game for a different system.

Incredibly, one of my phone calls netted, not the game I was calling about, but a Wii.  I was startled as the clerk tentatively told me that they had recently received a small number of the elusive game systems.  I got into the car and steadily weaved my way through traffic, certain that all other motorists were opponents, who like me, were trying to reach the prize quickly and with as few point-depleting mishaps as possible.

Once out of the car, construction around the store entrance forced me to dodge pieces of flying debris, and it was necessary to reconsider my path.  In the store, I walked toward the line that had formed at the electronics counter, took my place and waited patiently. Once at the front, I handed the clerk my credit card, and merrily announced, “I’d like a Wii please!”

As it promised, the Wii has changed my family’s perception of video games.  We used to think that the only activity that is a greater waste of time than playing video games is watching somebody else play video games.

With the Wii, watching others play is as great a sport as playing itself.  Regardless of the limited amount of effort actually required, participants dramatically over-play almost every movement.

During a tennis match, players mimic tossing the ball for the serve when all that is required is a coordinated push of a button along with the swing. Feet shuffle and bounce to attain just the right stance for a backhand swing, and grunts are heard each time the racquet hits the ball.

In bowling, authentic sounds echo as balls drop onto the alley and roll steadily toward the pins. Triumphant shouts or frustrated expletives are heard throughout the house, depending on the number of pins that fall with each throw.

Friends who have dropped by during the holidays have been willingly thrust into the virtual world of athletic challenges.  Teams are excitedly selected for round-robin tournaments, and elaborate playing schedules are devised. Team members stretch and warm up at the captains’ insistence, and quietly discuss strategy in a huddle.  Adults and kids alike emerge from the tv–room-turned-stadium giddily discussing this realistic playing experience.

Requests are often made for players to hit the showers, some more urgently in need than others.  The Wii has changed another family joke of ours. My husband and I used to tease the kids by telling them that the reason we wanted them in bed earlier than us was so that we could play with their toys without having to share with them.  We all found this to be pretty funny.

But what was once a lighthearted, virtual joke has now become a reality.

Let’s play ball!