Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Everybody Loves Game Cube

I'm reading: Everybody Loves Game CubeTweet this!

Eight year-old Smartypants has been waiting for years to get a Game Cube. When he was only five I gave him a quarter to buy a superball from one of those candy/junk dispensers at a restaurant and he told me he was going to use the money for his video game savings instead.

So after years of saving birthday money and demonstrating responsibility, reasonable maturity and self-restraint (in terms of tantrums, not beating up his little brother, etc.) We bought a Game Cube. One important thing-before making the purchase, we created a written list of Rules for Game Cube Use. Rules include things like: homework, chores and instrument practice must be done before playing; parents will give five-minute warnings when playtime is up; when it is time to stop you must stop. Smartypants gets extremely intense about his gameplay and has a history of going through a nasty withdrawal when he gets "unplugged." The rules seem to be working well as we've had few tantrums.

Here are some reasons your family should get a video game system: (What? We are the only family you know who didn't already have one?!)

1. As the boys observed on our recent trip to the Smoky Mountains, games like Monkey Ball teach you not to slow down on curvy roads because if you don't, you will fall off and get killed, although in Monkey Ball you get more lives.

2. As noted in a recent USA Today article "We've known for a while that games can sharpen memory and improve hand-eye coordination, but they can also be used to teach problem-solving skills, increase our awareness of world issues, help with social phobias and can even treat those with serious illnesses," says Ben Sawyer, co-founder and director of the Games for Health Project, an organization that brings together medical professionals, researchers and gamemakers to explore new ways to improve health care practice and policy. "What we're realizing now is that gaming, as a medium, has become more than just entertainment."

3. The Chicago Tribune agrees. In last Sunday's Q section they had a blurb referring to a University of Miami study of a group of young boys in the August issue of the Harvard Health Letter. In the study they found that the gaming boys' blood pressure went up by 19% and their breathing rates rose 55%. The energy they expended playing video games was that equal to a 15 minute walk at 2 miles/hour. I've often seen Smartypants break into a sweat when playing computer/video. Now I know why. Of course, outdoor play is still recommended over video games, but given a choice between the games and simply watching TV, put down the bag of chips and grab that controller!

4. According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal affluent newbies are actually paying as much as $50 an hour for video game tutors. That's right. Hardworking professionals are hiring coaches so that they can blast their kids in games like Halo-2. It's only a matter of time before Smartypants will be able to pay his own tuition!

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