It might be a sign of us buckling under to cultural pressure or perhaps the ongoing weight of constantly feeling like we’re saying “no” to our children as they too process the divorce and changes in their lives, but Linda and I have agreed to let the kids have some Nintendo Wii play time this summer and each of us bought a unit and hooked it up.
First off, the Wii is one amazingly fun and brilliantly engineered device. With its motion-sensitive wireless controllers and the forced feedback mechanism, it’s light years ahead of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, based on my experiences with all three.
Further, Nintendo has remembered that the key most important criterion for a successful video game system is fun and while the PS3 or Xbox might have more visually attractive games with more “polygons” and better smoke and shadow filters (yadda yadda, technical specs) the Nintendo games are far more fun for the average casual video game player.
In particular Wii Sports is the Oscar-winner of the entire video game industry, as far as I am concerned. Children or adults, the tennis, golf and bowling games are sure to capture your imagination and attention, and it’s really no surprise at all that the Wii appeals to a much wider demographic than the more geeky PS3 and Xbox devices.
But here’s the challenge, and it’s a challenge for any electronic medium, not just the Wii: how do you measure how much time your children should have and how do you enforce it in a way that doesn’t involve arguments, fights, games ended mid-way and unhappiness?
I started out thinking “thirty minutes per child” but that didn’t work well. Then I thought “each child gets to choose two games that they play” but that’s not sustainable either: one game is two minutes long and the other 20.
Complicating things most of the games are multiplayer, so if, say, A- wants to play tennis with G-, does that match count for both of them or just her?
I know that there are slick device timers like the Bob, but those don’t have any way of taking into account that they might be in the middle of a game and I know I’d find it extraordinarily frustrating if it shut down my game mid-swing or mid-bowl.
So, dear blog readers, any suggestions on how to have my children enjoy some Wii play time without it taking up hours and hours and hours of a perfectly beautiful summer day, but still letting them have enough time to have fun?
My entire family thanks you!