Wii and Me (or Mii)….Exercises in Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

When I was in grade school and middle school, I loved bowling at the old King Louie on 80th and Troost.  Sometimes I went with my cousin Todd…sometimes we took a school field trip to the alleys.  After a few games, I would run to the area where they had pinball machines.  My mom would give me enough money for snacks but I would save a couple of quarters to play.  It was a dream to someday have my own pinball machine in the corner of my bedroom like I would sometimes see on TV or movies. 

Then around 1975, something new came on the scene – PONG.  It started out in the pinball parlors but then Atari created a home version.  It was basically tennis and the objective was to turn the knob, which would move the “paddle” to hit the (square) ball.  The cool thing about it was the home version allowed me to play by myself.  My childhood was kinda sheltered and I didn’t go outside to play very often.  And I didn’t have any older brothers to play with so I played against the “computer” most of the time unless I had friends over.  Unfortunately, it was not connected in my room…we attached it to the big console TV in the living room.  So much for my dream. 

This is a close depiction of the Pong setup we had at my house circa 1975-76

As I entered high school and then college, I somehow missed the whole wave of Atari and Nintendo gaming systems.  But I did get interested in pre-installed computer games in my thirties.  My father had taught me how to play Solitaire with cards when I was young so it was really cool to play it on a computer.  And I got really good at Minesweep and Freecell.  When I bought my first computer around 1997, I graduated by loading it with You Don’t Know Jack, MahJong tiles and a few others.  But my favorite game to play was MYST.

One of the Ages of MYST

MYST was cool because there was a STORY.  There was a brief introduction but very little instruction on how to play or back story – the mystery took shape as you wandered through the game.  You just clicked on different objects and transported to other worlds or Ages.  There were tons of puzzles and traps.  And what was really cool was the game changed depending on the options you chose.   It challenged me to play so I could find the answer to the mystery.  I would play MYST for hours and was eventually able to reach the end.  Then I took on the task to conquer the sequel, Riven. 

Travel between two ages in RIVEN

Another reason why I wasn’t interested in the console games was the violent themes.  Slaying a dragon is just fantasy.  Graphically and realistically killing a human in a game seemed a little too real.  Grand Theft Auto flipped the script.  The heroes weren’t the cops….the pimps were the heroes.    Death and destruction were the main plot lines.  And most of the other games seemed to fit the same mold. 

Flash forward to 2004, 1 mile past my 40th birthday.  During a Christmas trip to NJ to visit friends Carolyn and Larry, my godson Sterling re-introduced me to gaming.  But things had changed drastically since Pong.  There was now a controller with an A and a B button and a joy stick and jump buttons…it was too many buttons!   But I had fun learning the new technology and decided to try something different.  Sterling taught me how to use the controller and we played different games.  When I returned home, I purchased a GameCube. 

My first game console, the Cube

It wasn’t as exciting as the Xbox or Playstation 2 but it was just my speed.  And I got a used one at Game Stop so it was in my budget too, less than $100.  But I got bored with it over time because I noticed the same trend from game to game.  Whether it was Ms. Pac-man, James Bond or Spiderman, they all had leaps over mountains/buildings/chasms, swimming under water for treasure or money and returning to certain points in the game to “re-energize” or get “healthy”.  After that, I only played the games about 3 times a year when I wanted to try to reach the next level in one of the games.  Last year, I introduced my 3 godchildren to Ms. Pac-Man and Happy Feet so it’s nice to see them get excited about playing “the game”.

Two years ago, I started hearing about Wii.  What?  What is Wii?  Who is Wii?  Why is it Wii? 

Myy Wii in Black

When I first saw the Wii (in White) in action, the next question was – where’s the cord?  The controller didn’t look like what I was familiar with – it looked more simple.  I was intrigued but not interested enough to even considering buying one because I was still bored with the whole gaming concept.  Until, again, my godson Sterling introduced me to Wii last year…during another Christmas visit.  We played bowling on the Wii and I found myself, starting to sweat and felt my breathing and pulse rate increase.  More importantly, I had FUN. 

i decided the Wii was for Mii!  I was in the process of trying to lose weight.  My food habits had changed but exercising was the big challenge. 

Sports have rarely been something I participated in or watched.  My parents forced me into little league baseball as a teenager – I was “husky” and clumsy with no athletic ability at all.  It was bad!  A kid in the stands yelled at me one time, “you’ll never hit the ball!”  My older sister had come to my defense.  “Yes HE WILL!”, she yelled back at the kid.  I didn’t.

During my attempts to exercise, I have tried aerobics (I had the cut sweatshirt, head and wrist bands, etc.), running (back in the 70’s and 80’s), walks in the park or around the local track (80’s and 90’s), and exercise machines at hotels or my apartment complex (90’s and early 2000’s).  I could never be consistent…I would do it for a few weeks or months and then I would hit a plateau or use my work schedule as an excuse not to.

It was fascinating Wii Fit Plus could tell what I was doing and whether I was doing it correctly.  With the Wii, I discovered a way to exercise and play games at the same time while enjoying the process, as well as the end result.  It allowed me to track my progress, create my own routines and get support from mii Wii buddy.  And since I don’t currently have a steady work schedule right now, I get up in the morning, have prayer and meditation and begin my workout.  It has become the foundation for my day.

As I move closer to my 50th birthday, I look back over my life with not a lot of regret.  It is what it is and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am had I not made the choices I did.  But I do regret that I didn’t treat my body better.  I took my health for granted, neglected to exercise my body (while I was exercising my mind and spirit), and now, I am paying the price for it.  My muscles and joints devote their time to reminding me that I’m not in my 20’s anymore.  They punish me with subtle aches and sudden jabs of pain. They find ways to challenge me to get up out of bed each morning or rise from a chair after sitting too long.   

But with a new approach to, and a greater appreciation for, food and a renewed spirit to exercise, I am trying to make up for lost time.  I just hope my body is forgiving.


Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.   I Corinthians 6:19-20

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  I Corinthians 9:27

If the body be feeble, the mind will not be strong.  ~Thomas Jefferson
Sometimes your body is smarter than you are.  ~Author Unknown


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