The Way Wii Were

I came to terms with the advancement of modern technology and the hopeless dependence that we have on technological forms of entertainment in our day when I found myself sitting in front of my television set on a Saturday afternoon shouting curse words at a bespectacled Japanese man. With my fists raised to protect my face, I fought Korioshi in a brutal battle of brains and brawn. Though he would keep dodging my punches, I eventually knocked him out cold with a triple combo hit to the face, body, and face followed by a searing right hook. With this, his body flew in the air and convulsed on its way to the ground until it folded up, limbs protruding in opposite directions and the halo of stars swimming around his x-ed out eyes, in a heap on the mat. Take that back to Tokyo.

The object of this rage, as either you could obviously infer or are pleadingly hoping for, is Wii boxing. The Wii is a small, white video game system that uses state-of-the-art remote control technology to make normally sane people look as though the tourettes has come back and violently mingled with schizophrenia. The Wii is a Japanese product that takes its name from the Japanese verb “to urinate.” Despite the ambiguous name, the Wii has been a worldwide sensation as millions of people desperately want to create an armless character that, no matter how you configure it, ends up looking like an embryonic version of yourself with too-thick eyebrows. You can then take this “Mii” as they are so cleverly called and use it to play ping-pong with your grade-school nemesis, Bowser.

I own one of these newfangled contraptions. We got it as a gift from my in-laws because of the fascination that my young son had every time that he would see it played elsewhere. He always talked about one and wanted one for himself, but as we would spend the $300 cost every couple of months on other things for him to “wii” in, it was not really possible. Luckily, the in-laws came through for the little guy and he has been watching his Daddy play ever since. I sometimes feel bad that “Hey, Zach, do you want to go play the Wii?” really means, “Hey, kid, do you want to sit still and watch me play the Wii?” In truth, we have tried to teach Zachary how to play. His cousin who is eight months younger is a wunderkind when it comes to the Wii. Before he could say mommy and daddy, he knew how to throw a curveball to pick up a 7-10 split in Wii bowling. We tried to coach Zachary how to perform the simplest maneuvers with the remote. As the badminton birdie was hit towards him, his mother and I would shout “Swing it, Zach! Now! Now! Now!” Only after the Mii character hung his head in the shame of defeat would he, laughingly, swing his remote. He actually does rather enjoy watching me throw a touchdown or figure skate to Madame Butterfly.

As with most things, my hogging of the Wii can be traced back to my disturbing childhood. In the gaming department, my parents were the proud owners of both a Texas Instruments computer and an original Atari game system. While my friends played Duck Hunt and Super Contra, I learned how to type lines and lines of programming code from the T.I. manual in order to turn the white cursor into a man made up of about six white cursors and watch him turn cartwheels against the backdrop of a blue screen. While my friends upgraded to Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I battled pixilated tanks in a never-ending desertscape and raided the hell out of many a river. I would go over to my friends house trying to find an escape from the terrible monotony that was my childhood, only to receive ridicule that I could not even beat Soda Popinski, let alone Don Flamenco in Punch-Out. I was often relegated to watching from the back of the room and fetching beverages. Still, it beat writing program code all day.

Today, I not only have the most coveted gaming system around, but I also have one at work. Yes, the liberal higher-ups at the corporation that I work for believe that playing the Wii is an excellent way to inspire much-needed creativity. And who am I to argue? I used to have a Wii-date with one of my co-workers nearly every afternoon. We later had a Wii-breakup however as I was much too dominant in the game that we played and that was somewhat off-putting for him. Lately, I have used the work Wii to prepare for the company-wide Wii boxing tournament. A fellow entrant into the tournament and I have ruggedly jousted for a few weeks now in order to prepare ourselves for the upcoming tournament. Sometimes, he would follow me on a bike, wearing a pink tracksuit, as I jogged with the New York skyline slowly inching past me. We have sufficiently built up our stats over these sessions, and just in time as the first round of the tournament will begin tomorrow. Yes, I love my job.

And so, Sunday afternoon, while the rest of the family is napping, I find myself in front of the television flailing my arms wildly. It does not matter who steps in front of my fists of fury. I have punched men who were dumb enough to wear their glasses in the ring. I have punched women directly in the ovaries. I have defeated an inordinate amount of Japanese boxers in order to arrive where I was at that moment. I have reached the legendary level of 1500 and was toe-to-toe and glove-to-glove with Matt, the champ, in person, or, technically, in per"Sii"n, I believe. I ended him as I ended all the others. Oh yes my friends, first round knockout.

With this knockout I received the ability to fight all future bouts with Matt’s own silver gloves. I was so proud of myself for reaching this milestone that I nearly cried on the couch, by myself. Then, the deflating sense of pointlessness hit me, like a slow-motion uppercut from the surprisingly talented Hiromashi, as it does after achieving success at any video game. I have a personality where I am gung ho on anything I undertake until I eventually realize the futility of it all. I completed a whole season in Fifa Soccer, only to have the season start all over again. I achieved victory by means of nuclear annihilation on Civilization, only to have the anticlimactic text “Congratulations” come on my computer screen. They couldn’t even spring for an exclamation point. And here I am on my couch staring down at my pointless silver gloves and wondering what I was doing. Had my life come to this- a meaningless pursuit to win back the video game experience my parents thoughtfully and mercifully denied me?

I set the controllers down and began to walk away. I felt so angry with myself that I had wasted so much time. So angry in fact, that I felt like punching something. I realized shortly after the “Ding-Ding” of the Wii starting up sounded in my ears once again that there was a perfectly valid reason for me to be playing this game. There is no better way to manage one’s years of built-up and internally stored anger than by ruthlessly punching countless Japanese faces as they continue to line up, one by one, just to play with me.

6 comments:

Joe said...

A Wii tournament at work? Where do I get an application? My 3 year old is so addicted to Mario Kart that we had to put the Wii away this week so he could focus on eating again.

David Baker said...

No video games as a kid. WOW. You should have at least been playing Scorched Earth.Or the dos game that was similar, where the monkeys throw explosive bananas at each other.

doug said...

As the co-worker mentioned (you know, the one with the pink tracksuit), I only have one question: Why are you wasting your time blogging when you should be training for our Wii Boxing tournament? Get back to work!

Di said...

yeah, I didn't have video games growing up either. We had to play with socks. Not new ones either... wow, that sure does explain a lot.

Tim said...

Your training paid off today. I could tell you want this title, you want it bad. On to the second round...

Entertaining blog. I will start reading, rather than skimming your posts from now on.

Cameron Smith said...

Just in case any of you are still reading this, I have an update. The Great White Hope, yours truly,was knocked out in the Semi-Finals by a mean-spirited co-worker. Looks like it's back to the boxcar leagues for me.