For years I’ve been significantly behind the video gaming curve. As a child, when the original Nintendo Entertainment System was released and kids across the world were boinging away through levels of Mario and up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-select-starting their way through Contra, the Brigham family was not allowed to have the electronic bringer of joy. We, instead, were forced to do things like play outside. Lame, right?
It’s not that Kyle and I didn’t want the NES; we really, really did. We begged our parents for one with the fervor of starving French Revolution Era peasants grasping onto the boot-strings of nobility for food. But time and again our guardians turned us away, denying us that food (in a metaphorical sense, of course).
Eventually a compromise occurred and my grandmother bought a Nintendo for use at her place, about which my folks didn’t argue. When this happened, my brother and I began a lifelong split that still exists to this day: he was very, very good at video games, and alas, I was not.
From that point on, Kyle’s affinity for gaming grew in leaps and bounds as the technology got significantly more impressive with each passing year. He learned to love the Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox like children, watching them grow up and become increasingly more violent and sexual.
I, however, got more and more frustrated as the games grew progressively more complex and the system controllers kept getting more buttons. The good ol’ NES pad had a four-way movement control pad, an “A” button, and a “B” button. The modern incarnation of the Xbox—affectionately named “The 360”—has more buttons than China has single-child families.
So even though I used to love playing the simplistic Tecmo Super Bowl on Nintendo, I’ve had a hard time for years adjusting to the most recent Madden games. There’s too much to do, too many buttons to push, too many things to watch and colors to consider. And I understand I sound like my grandmother when the original Nintendo came out, but I don’t care. These games have been too hard to be interesting, so I quit on them. Just like that.
The only way anyone could get me to play a video game was by a.) blowing on the back of an old NES cartridge and getting the Nintendo to actually work, or b.) the newfangled system supported an NBA game so I could dingle around with the rosters.
Video gaming life as I knew it changed a few weeks ago, however, as a Nintendo Wii remote was placed into my hand for the first time. There were simple buttons, simple games, and no headaches/seizures/aneurisms. Bowling was fun. Baseball was fun. Golf was fun. Tennis was extremely fun. By the time I was done running around and swinging that remote back and forth for a couple hours I had sweat pouring down my face in fat, streaky droplets
I thought, why don’t they hand out these things to fat kids who don’t want to exercise, yet still desire playing video games? It would be revolutionary! (And in fact, studies have shown a number of health advantages to playing the Wii).
Anyway, the moral of the story is that Amy and I chipped in and bought a Wii. Now, she finds herself struggling with the Wii Sports games while I have excelled, especially in Tennis and Baseball, where my point levels have classified me as a Professional.
You read that correctly. A Professional.
We’re well aware that there are some really hard games out there, too, but we like that some things—Monkey Ball, Mario Party, and many others—are easy enough for any old idiot to figure out. That’s what Amy and I are. Video game idiots. I love my Tecmo Super Bowl, and she’s a Tetris Attack savant, but the next generation of consoles has always intimidated both of us.
Does this mean my brother and I have a point of bonding now, after years of separation on this front of life? Absolutely. Does this mean that I’m back “in the game,” so to speak? Darn tootin’. Does this mean that Amy might rescind her “yes” and decide not to marry me because of jealousy spawned from the fact that I’m a professional Wii tennis player and she’s not? It’s very likely. Video games caused a rift between Kyle and I for years; I assume Amy and I are next.
Until then, though, we’re enjoying our internet-equipped Wii. We have the option of downloading all those old games we used to play, so even if this system gets as goofy and difficult as all the others, we’ll have something to fall back on, with plenty of old NES games downloaded to our Wii hard drive.
And we won’t even have to blow into the cartridge to play them.