Do we weely need Wii?

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By John Pawlak

 Call me strange, but I don’t drive a Humvee armed with a 50-caliber gun turret shooting up the neighborhood.

I don’t engage in mortal combat with 800-pound lizard-people, vaporizing them with crystal swords or energy grenades.

I don’t fight evil hordes of Planet Zorton, protecting the planet from certain doom. And yet somehow, I manage to cope with the day-to-day existence known to normal people as “life.”

There are many alternate realities available today, ranging from the mundane (“SimCity”) to the truly warped (“Second Life”). For those who can’t enjoy their day without at least a few dozen homicides, “World of Warcraft” and “Grand Theft Auto” provide ample opportunities to exercise those sociopathic tendencies that we usually hide from our friends at work.

But a far more insidious virtual reality is slowly taking over our everyday lives.

Does anyone remember bowling? You know, that silly game where you roll a ball down an alley? It was a strange game. You had to leave your house and go out with other people to a place where you had to pick up a ball and throw it. Now really, how could spending an evening with friends be fun? And who wants to pick up a ball anyway?

What about baseball? Now there’s a ridiculous activity. Going out with friends again, breathing outside air, the sun hitting your skin, exerting yourself by running around, throwing and catching balls and wasting your breath by doing things like laughing and having fun. Fun? What fun could that be?

I mean really, who wants to go outside when you can cross-country ski in your living room?

Today’s “I-hate-reality” generation has Wii (pronounced “Wee”). With Wee, wee don’t have to leave the house to do anything. In the comfort and solitude of our living room, wee can bowl, wee can cheerlead, wee can dance, wee can play baseball, table tennis, soccer and golf. Wee can even box. And why bother wasting time with real friends? Wee can do it all on the TV set with fellow wee avatars.

Who wants to play with real people anyway? Wee friends are much more fun!

Yes, wee love Wee and with Wee, wee don’t need anything or anyone. Want to learn how to play the guitar? Don’t waste your time with a real one. Wee offers “Guitar Hero.” Wee just push the buttons. Want to do some snowboarding? Forget about dealing with all that nasty snow and fresh air. Wee has that covered too. Just flick a switch and wee are there. Wee can even go running (without going anywhere) and have a virtual wee-dog run with us. Where wee are, wee don’t really know, but wee sure are having fun, aren’t wee?

Enough Wee already. Maybe “we” like Wee, but I sure don’t. It bothers me to see young kids playing basketball by themselves in their living room. When I was young, I loved archery. I loved pulling back that bow, feeling that moment of release, the twang of the string, the smooth feel of the arrow flying towards the target.

But now kids just hold a sensor and pull back their arm as if to scratch their back and watch an electronic arrow on their TV set fly toward a virtual target.  All together now, shout “Whee!”

Stand in front of your TV and swing your arms. You’re a golf pro! Bend a wrist and pretend you’re swatting flies and suddenly you’re a champion table tennis champ! You can even fence without having to learn how to hold a foil.  Thrust! Lunge! Take a break and watch an episode of “South Park.” Parry! Touche!

What’s next? Wee bench -pressing 900 pounds? Surfboard a typhoon? Play volleyball with your favorite anime character? Go swimming in your pajamas? Ah yes, an entire generation of lounge chair Olympians.

I can see it now ... Wee for dogs. Let’s hook up our dogs and play Frisbee with them. That way, they don’t have to run and wee don’t have to throw anything.

Yes, yes, I know, Wee can be fun and several people have told me how much they enjoy it.

It does allow people to exercise in their homes and have fun doing it. It’s a great tool for physical therapy and is even used in nursing homes. Families in Iowa can canoe down the rapids together. And yes, it is fun to be able to play baseball in the dead of winter.

But do wee have to wee it all year long?

So let our children’s muscles atrophy and all shout “Weeeee!”  Of course, Wee will probably release a soundboard that will shout for us, so the kids won’t have to do that either.