Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Finally, a Brain Booster Video Game

Well, somedays you just can't win! So we're all set for last night's Brain Gym Basics TeleChat and we had enough out-of-my-control technical glitches at the last minute that we had to postpone it. Even included a glitch from the University of Colorado at Denver which offers the graduate credit for teachers

Now Brain Gym Basics is on for March 11. And the ADD class for April 1st. And that means changes on the websites, changes in the telephone conferencing schedule, changes in the calendar, changes in the online registration, and on and on. Guess what I'm doing this morning? Certainly wasn't part of the original plan for today!

So after railing against video games for years (except for a slight nod to improvement in eye-hand coordination), there's finally a video game that looks like it'll get an A+ from me.

It's called Wii Fit. (Pronounced "we.") Check out the demonstration and a video from Nintendo. It really looks like fun. Nintendo's pushing it as family fun--another A+ from me. I even like the music.

But there's a caveat to the A+--that's only for families who already have the Wii video game system which, unfortunately, allows kids to play some of the most violent games without ever getting out of their chair or moving a muscle beyond wrist and fingers. Although such isn't the purpose of Wii. And the system is a bit pricey. The cheapest I found this morning was $286--before you buy Wii Fit at around $70.

You can use Wii Fit for aerobics, yoga, muscle stretches and games, and get a "core" workout with some of the Wii Fit games. I haven't seen any promotion for losing weight but if you're doing aerobics frequently enough with Wii Fit, weight loss would certainly be a result. Who can argue with that, given the rise in childhood obesity.

Wii fit has over 40 exercises and activities. 8 family members and friends can keep track of their scores and progress.

Don't get too excited, however. Wii Fit isn't scheduled for release until May. If you can't wait, log into Amazon and ask to be emailed the minute you can buy it.

However, the buzz has created a Wii Fit entry in Wikipedia. And Nintendo has blog postings and YouTube videos to promote their product.

Wii represents a new and positive, from my way of thinking, approach to video games. They call it social network gaming. And lots of the Wii software, unlike many of the other social networking games, requires moving around rather than sitting still at your computer screen.

But I don't necessarily recommend the Wii video game system unless your kids have other video game systems which they're into. There's a great review of Wii in the "New York Times."

On the other hand, what's wrong with technology that promotes social and family interaction, involves moving, and having lots of fun? Maybe your children have been begging for a video game system and you've said "No, no, a thousand times no, in the past. You might reconsider with Wii as the option.

Video "games" plus movement aren't new. Exergaming has been around for awhile but has never really taken off. I'd never heard of it until I read the Wii Fit article in Wikipedia. And the Wii system already has Wii sports out where you can play "pretend" tennis, golf, baseball, and bowling. All of which involve standing up, and moving around but not as much movement as Wii Fit. Most Wii systems already come with Wii Sports.

Looks like Wii Fit is ready to make a splash in the U.S. Let's hope so for those families and kids where video games are already part of the daily routine! With 1.3 million units in homes in Japan, it's sure made a splash there.

So to summarize, if kids must play video games, the Wii system is the best around and Wii Fit (and Wii Sports) promises to be one of the best set of games going in terms of Brain Boosting and general health enhancement. Not to mention fun!

Still doesn't take the place of playing, hiking, or running around outdoors. But then sometimes you've got four feet of snow in your backyard and the thermomenter in the car port says ten below. We've have plenty of days like that at our house and still have snow drifts over our heads.

Speaking of snow, Cynthia, my friend who uses Brain Gym with her first graders at the Apache Indian reservation school in Dulce, NM, called to tell me they had SIX feet of the white stuff and her kids are getting cabin fever. They need Wii Fit.


P.S. If you've got snow and warm enough temperatures to bundle up and go outside there're lots of things kids can do. Check out the February issue of the "Brain Boosters for Your Kids" newsletter. Lots of ideas for playing in the snow, including how to do Brain Gym in the snow.

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