Wii love to play and make fools of ourselves

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller share the same small house (still), work in the same office (again) and somehow manage to cling to their sanity (barely). Older and wiser (she's wiser, he's just older), the Southeast Missourian sweethearts offer their views on everyday issues, told from two different perspectives.

SHE SAID: We spent Christmas bowling. And playing tennis. And boxing (ask Bob about his 6-month-pregnant wife knocking him out cold in Round 1). We played a couple games of baseball. Hit some golf balls. Did some fishing. Raced some cows. Blew up some enemy tanks.

The Miller household is not the most technologically advanced. We don't have HDTV (but we spend a lot of time watching HGTV). We don't do blu-ray; or any other color of ray, for that matter. Though I'm a huge music fan, I just started downloading tunes to an MP3 player within the last year.

It's not my fault -- I come from a technologically backward family. My dad called me a few months ago asking where the "dot" was on the keyboard because he was trying to type in wwwDOTsomething-or-other. He's also recently announced that his new cell phone has blue tongue technology.

Bob and I knew we wanted to get my stepson a new game system for Christmas, but we had no idea what muck and mire we were trudging into. You see, you can't just buy the system (though that in itself can be a huge obstacle). No, you may need HDTV and Wi-Fi and whatever other group of letters ITP (Important Techno People) can string together to confuse the rest of us.

So we did our research and in the end decided to buy a Nintendo Wii. As many parents probably can attest, just finding this thing in Cape Girardeau County is an epic battle. I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say it took a few phone calls and involved me sprinting my pregnant behind across a parking lot, dashing to the very back of a local store and in between gasps pleading with the electronics clerk to please have just one more Wii. I walked out of that store feeling like some sort of conquering hero.

On Christmas Day, I learned that I am not a hero. I am 56. That's my Wii age -- a number derived from a series of fitness challenges intended to test your stamina, strength, endurance and embarassment threshold. Bob was 66 the first time he tried the test.

The system was a huge hit at both grandparents' homes over the holiday. Adults and kids alike stood in line to play. My dad, who still wrestles the computer mouse into cooperation, took to using the wireless remote in a snap. My 22-year-old brother, who detests most video games, jumped in line to play at every opportunity (he's 79, by the way, in Wii years, so I don't feel so bad).

What the instruction manual doesn't warn you, however, is that playing Wii may actually begin to resemble a little something called exercise. Bob and I both woke up with stiff arms and shoulders after boxing and bowling the first day (ask Bob about his 6-month-pregnant wife knocking him out cold in Round 1... wait, did I already say that?).

HE SAID: Yes, my cute and talented wife knocked my block off.

Quite the boxer, though not nearly as good as my 10-year-old son, still the undisputed champion. The Wii is an incredibly sophisticated system. Not only do the controllers mimic your movements on-screen in real time, the Wii also understands that Callie must win every fight between the two of us. Callie didn't win everything, though. I beat her where it hurts: I'm a better shooter than she is. While I was blasting away those clay pigeons and tin cans and weird UFOs who were trying to abduct us, she was plunking away aimlessly as though blind and strung out on caffeine. She was no kind of shooter at all. No wonder she didn't get a deer this year.

But I think the Wii will make us a better couple. Just this Christmas morning, when I could have been doing a thousand different chores or errands, I was playing the Wii. And my wife didn't say a word when she got out of the shower. No nagging or bickering. She only wanted me to hurry up and get ready for work so we could both go to work sooner -- and get back sooner -- so we could get back to the Wii.

Callie and I are already hooked, no doubt. But next time we get into an argument, we'll know exactly what to do. Turn on the boxing. She'll win, of course, like she always does. But she'll wear out much sooner this way.

Bob Miller is the Southeast Missourian's managing editor. Callie Clark Miller officially re-challenges him in the shooting game, now that she has figured out which button to push to shoot. Reach them at bmiller@semissourian.com or cmiller@semissourian.com. They may even respond if they're not too busy playing Wii.

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