Moms Columns & Blogs

Wii've learned a lot about computer games

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I go back and forth on the whole video game thing.

To game, or not to game. Now there's a question.

Computer games, the Wii, Nintendo - I guess they all have their pros and cons.

The obvious advantage to computer games is that my kids are learning basic computer skills. Even my 3-year-old can click and drag with the best of them. And the games they play are educational, so they learn patterns and sequencing, some spelling and math.

The disadvantage is that they use my computer and rearrange all the icons on my desktop. The toolbar goes from horizontal at the bottom to vertical on the side. And they leave the volume turned all the way up so when I'm groggily signing on at 7 a.m., someone hollers "YOU'VE GOT MAIL!!!" And then I fall out of my chair.

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The Wii is another one I have a tough time with. Although I do like that it's one of the few things my boys will do together. I, too, enjoy a little Mario Kart. I like racing my motorcycle around at dizzying speeds, right up to the point I careen off a cliff, and my vertigo kicks in. Such a rush.

The disadvantage is all the arguing over which game they're gonna play, who gets to go first, who got the highest score, etc. We hit a real low point when all the players accidentally got erased. It was like we lost the family pet. I underestimated everyone's attachment to "King Boo" and "Diddy Kong." We held a private ceremony for the dead, followed by a seminar on delete applications.

The Nintendo DS is the tough one. It's not educational. And you can't play it with anybody. But one advantage is that you can unlock different worlds, making the question "What world do you live in?" completely answerable.

The disadvantage is that it's portable. I've seen my son literally work it into his morning routine, so he can make it through at least one world and still be dressed for school. He puts on a shoe, beats a level, puts on the other shoe, beats another level, then makes his way to brush his teeth while entering another hemisphere.

"Come back!" I holler, shaking him out of World 8.

"MOM - I'm about to win this battle!"

Uh... no you're not.

I was sort of amused when he had to write a report on what he wants to be when he grows up. He picked Video Game Designer. I was sure the tediousness of the research and the technical mumbo-jumbo would burn him out on the whole thing. But he wrote a stellar paper and designed five storyboards illustrating the five worlds of his original game.

And then he reported that video game designers make anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 a year. Or more.

Mario Kart anyone?