For about the last year, if my wife and I wanted to shape the behavior of our eldest child, we dangled a Wii. This has worked effectively on a number of issues. To wit, he has been promised said gaming system in return for: learning multiplication tables, being nicer to his sister, not using shirt as napkin and writing thank-you notes, among other things. Until recently, this technique yielded such good results that getting the kid an actual Wii would be clearly self defeating, to say nothing of the expense involved.
But lately we’ve been seeing some “Wii fatigue” in our subject. The “Wii for Brushing Teeth” campaign lacked a certain crispness in target audience engagement. The rolling of the eyes gave it away. So I made an internal and unilateral decision (surprise, honey!) that the next time I came across a Wii, I would buy it for the kid. The problem is that I have extremely bad Wii karma. I insulted the Wii gods a week before this last Christmas. I’m chatting with the electronics guy at Costco about the SLR camera that I will never buy, when another employee walks up and hands him a single Wii. “Last one before Christmas,” says the guy and walks off. There it is. The moment when I become a hero to my kids. And I can’t. Pull. The trigger. So I am punished. Now that I am ready to buy the stupid thing, none for ready money, or at least room on the consumer credit line.
Until Sunday. While shopping for a birthday present for Daddy Brad’s eldest (atta boy, big guy!), there they were. A cluster of three on the bottom shelf. I got the salesman to confirm four different ways that the boxes actually contained full game systems. I snapped one up to the absolute amazement of my kids. They were flabbergasted, floored, almost speechless. Bubba muttered, “I can’t believe this is happening,” over and over again like a shellshocked doughboy. Which doesn’t even compare to how astonsihed all their friends were. I guess I’m shaping up to be the neighborhood hard-ass, no-fun, anti-technology, crank dad.
Sweet. Okay, so the thing is fun to play, and, no, that was not me you saw through the window on Saturday night playing another nine holes of Wii golf between sips of añejo tequilla.
I must ask, what kind of ritualized acting out is it to play Wii boxing with your six-year-old daughter? I kept wondering if it was appropriate, meanwhile, unencumbered by such doubts, she’s thoroughly kicking my ass. KO in second round. No lie. And, yes, I am sore from playing the stupid thing. I’m just that kind of physical specimen. Bonus Upside: participating in small Japanese company smacking down Sony and Microsoft. Unforeseen Downside: need to remodel house so virtual boxing doesn’t transition seamlessly into the real kind. Also, Wii trojan Horse — this thing has wireless? Would you Wii? Do you Wii? Wii or Wii not?