Wii would like to play ... with any age

HURON Marie Malone vaguely remembers getting her first television. She remembers when a cordless pho
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

HURON

Marie Malone vaguely remembers getting her first television. She remembers when a cordless phone entered her life. And she definitely remembers the first time she played a video game.

Malone, an 80-something resident at the Admiral's Pointe Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, started using the facility's new Wii game system in the last couple of days.

Friday, in an activities room full of residents, Malone took a try at bowling.

"I never thought I'd play a video game," she said. "I'm having all the fun in the world."

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Wii is the wildly successful video game console developed by Nintendo.

To use it a player grasps one of the system's remotes -- or Wiimote, as gamers call it -- and mimes the motions involved in bowling or tennis, for example, with those motions duplicated on the screen.

The Huron Eagles donated the ultra-popular game system, which sells for around $250, said Lisa Hudson, activities director at Admiral's Pointe.

Hudson provided seniors with a "crash course" on the Wii, and by Friday many of them appeared to have the hang of it.

"We have wanted to bring it into our facility because of the physical exercise and socialization it brings to the residents," Hudson said.

Residents' reaction to the game has been eye-opening for Hudson.

"Just in the short time we've done it, I've seen an increase in the activity level," said Hudson.

In the past, Hudson scheduled outings for residents to go to a nearby bowling alley, but not all could participate. The Wii system provides an opportunity for some of less-mobile residents to take part in some of the fun.

A Wiimote weighs little, so many of the more infirm residents who might not be able to lift a bowling ball can participate in a physical activity.

"When they play the bowling, they'll start reminiscing and talking about when they bowled in leagues. It really helps the residents out mentally," said Hudson.

Sue Fairchild preferred to play the baseball game. Yesterday she took turns hitting and pitching with the Wii. With a look of concentration that conjured memories of the Cleveland Indians' Fausto Carmona on the mound, Fairchild was able to slip pitches past a virtual hitter. When hitting, she grounded out to the virtual third baseman, who fielded the ball on a giant flat screen color TV.

"I can exercise my arms. They do get sore, but I'll keep working with it," said the 64-year-old Fairchild.

Resident after resident who played the game Friday in the recreation room was cheered on by fellow residents -- some in wheel chairs, others with walkers, many chomping on popcorn.

When one man struggled in the baseball game, one of the residents joked it was "time to get another pitcher out there."

Amy Donaldson, administrator at of Admiral's Pointe, is sold on the benefits of the Wii.

"The (on-screen) graphics are simple enough where the patients can enjoy it ... they can play it," Donaldson said.

While the thought of senior citizens playing video games might seem mind-boggling, the Wii appeared to have converted at least some of the residents at Admiral's Pointe into gamers.

"I'm sure none of them expected they'd be playing video games," Donaldson said. "Especially here."