John F. Russell: Not your dad's video games


John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Tuesdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email

Find more columns by John here.

— Last year, Santa brought my 11-year-old son a Wii for Christmas.

Hey, cool.

This is a chance for dad to show the kid a thing or two about the video game generation. I'm a product of the 1980s. I spent hours in front of the television set with my friends, protecting the world from aliens in Space Invaders, dodging giant rocks in Asteroids and chasing ghosts around a maze in Pac-Man.

The Atari game console sparked the video game generation, and that makes me an expert.

It was pretty simple back then - we had football, baseball and hockey. The players couldn't spike the ball or talk trash, but none of us seemed to care.

But now that my son has the Wii, I know exactly how my parents felt. I still recall the days watching my dad attempt to play Asteroids and Space Invaders and the chuckles that followed.

Now, it's my turn to be laughed at.

I still can't believe I have to stand up to play this game. I can remember a time when the best position for playing a video game was leaning back in a beanbag chair with a sack of Cheetos on one side, a cold soda on the other.

But after being introduced to the Wii last year, I've discovered the best place for a soda is the kitchen, and you rarely have time to grab Cheetos. Plus, they turn the safety strap orange if you're not careful. What happened to black controllers?

Sure, you still can defend the world from aliens, smash buildings and shoot at things. But the full entertainment value of the Wii is found in sports games.

Wii Sports, which comes with the console, still is a favorite in our household. In the span of a couple of hours we can bowl, match up at tennis and play an entire game of baseball - you need only two players, but they have to move.

This Christmas, my son is hoping for a Wii balance board, which, from my understanding, comes bundled with the Wii Fit. That package includes Yoga, stretching and other games that inspire physical fitness.

Personally, I hope he gets one, so I can work off all the turkey and extras I plan on eating this holiday season, without having to leave my TV.

But as a member of the video game generation, I can't help by wonder - what is this world coming to?

Video game junkies should be rebelling, not embracing. We all should demand games that require good hand-thumb coordination and promote lazy days in front of the tube.

Personally, I saw this coming when the newer games got rid of the joystick in favor of all those confusing buttons.

I'm sure the Wii will be at the top of many children's Christmas wish lists this year. But parents, be warned: If you find a Wii under your Christmas tree, there's a good chance you'll be sore the next day.


Tracy Barnett 8 years, 4 months ago

Count me in among the "children" with a Wii on the Christmas list. My son has a Wii and brings it over for the family to play on Sundays when we have a family dinner. I have been introduced to Wii Fitness and did 25 minutes of exercise without even realizing it. I am also an expert hula hooper and a terrible driver. Exercise was never this much fun before!


Matthew Stoddard 8 years, 4 months ago

Still haven't gotten a Wii. My XBox 360 keeps me going, especially with Fable II and GTA4 still not finished! I spent many a quarter at The Games Room way back when (and at Go-Fers, before Cal made that area his photo processing shop) and I've owned at least 1 console per generation since the first Playstation. (Too young & drunk to afford the earlier Nintendos when they came out, but I played them at friends' houses!)

I'm already anticipating the next generation of consoles!!


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