Monday, October 22, 2007

Video Game Therapy

For years, video games have been stigmatized as a time-consuming, lazy and sedentary activity lacking in societal worth no matter how much they've come since their humble beginnings as a simple collection of flashes, beeps and boops.

Today they remain the cannon-fodder of lesser politicians, who find themselves grasping for an easy target to blame for America’s educational pitfalls and dwindling family values. And while the younger generation is surely lost (sarcasm) to the flickering lure of Master Chief, Super Mario and Solid Snake, the older generation seems to be reaping the benefits of this emerging form of entertainment, thanks to the Nintendo Wii.

According to a story published on newsday.com, the Wii is fast becoming a physical therapy tool for the elderly since its release last Christmas. Unlike Microsoft’s XBox 360 or Sony’s Playstation 3, the Wii forces players off the couch. Wii Sports, which comes bundled with the system, offers players the chance to play tennis, bowl and even box in the comfort of their own living room.

Studies such as this one seem to be popping up daily, with reports that regular gaming amongst elderly populations helps retain brain function and improve both visual skills and hand-eye coordination.

While I’m not advocating that video games are the best thing to emerge in the entertainment industry since the advent of the motion picture, they are viable medium that can not only provide escapist fun, but exercise the mind, body and even the eyes. With immersive games such as BioShock, Halo 3 and World of Warcraft, you might even get caught up in a great story or make some friends through online multiplayer.

But I digress. There’s an election on the horizon, and we all need someone to blame for society’s ills, don't we? And I hear there’s a new Grand Theft Auto on the way as well. That should fuel the fires of ignorance. After all, haven’t political figures taught us over the years that all games are about beating hookers, stealing cars and shooting cops? And who ever heard of a narrow-minded politician?

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