Playing Video Games · 18 January 2008

As much bad press as video games get – they are violent, they are the cause of obesity, and eventually they will be declared the root of all evil – video games are really just a diversion and form of entertainment. Even just watching people play is entertaining. Especially when they use body English or think video games are a form of aerobic exercise.

Almost all of the people who I have ever seen play video games move the controllers or contort their bodies to give body English to the video game. I know that I move the controller and try to help the console understand that I really want something more than what my input can demand.

It is just like when we used to go bowling. I would lean over and try to get the ball to curve a little more. Sometimes I would lean so hard that I would practically fall into the next lane trying to get the ball to go to the right place. And if by chance the ball nicked a pin and caused it to rock, I would jump up and down to see if I could cause enough vibration to make the pin fall. The amusing thing is that I could look at my friends with me and at most of the other people up and down the bowling alley to see these same things happening. It is also funny to think about because we all know intuitively that once we release the ball, whether it is in bowling or any other sport, we have no more input over how it moves. Still, we try to exert some non-physical force over objects which are no longer under our control.

That same illogic which guides us to lean to help the bowling ball helps us to think that moving a video game controller or moving our bodies might help control what is happening on a screen.

My kids did not really have this same problem when they started playing video games at about six months old. The Mind-boggling Mrs. Miyoshi says that I forced my children to have video games in their hands before they could even walk. In all seriousness, Thing 2 was not really ready for his first hand-held video game at two. He got his Game Boy for his second birthday so that I could play Pokémon. Even so, I was not the one who decided that playing video games should be an aerobic activity.

Thing 3 played video games jumping around and going crazy even before we even thought about getting a Wii. He does not really try to use body English or move the controller that much but he participates with his whole body when he plays. He used to jump up and down the whole time he was playing almost any video game. Now, he just moves around with the Wii games and a couple other games that he just can not keep himself from moving. Thing 3 is really the one for whom the Wii was invented.

I am sure that nobody really gets a very good aerobic workout from playing video games. Even a Wii. But with the new way of controlling video games, those of us who lean when we bowl can finally use body English and move the controllers to get the characters on the video screen to move and do their things. We might still look silly doing it but now everybody needs to use a little body English to control their video games.

© 2008 Michael T. Miyoshi

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