Nintendo games are marvelous — Super Mario Sunshine is my favorite. I love the world of Mario and his friends. My only problem with the games is the controller — I just can't make my fingers and thumbs move the right way, or fast enough, to be very good at most of the games, especially the competitive ones. My daughter beats the pants off me in Monkeyball. One time, after a particularly humiliating loss to her in MonkeyBall, she said, "I feel bad winning; it's like playing against a baby."
When the Wii arrived in its very Mac-like box, I didn't know what to make of the controller, other than to think that it looked like a big iPod Shuffle. I hooked the system up to the TV (which took all of 30 seconds) and realized that there was no cable to plug into the controller. It was wireless. If that wasn't cool enough, I soon learned that the way you moved the cursor on the TV screen was by waving the controller around. It was like using a laser pointer. What's more, the controller uses haptics (touch technology) to help you navigate. When the cursor goes over a button or icon, the controller produces a physical "bump" to help you navigate. It feels like magic. I love it.
The Wii cames with a sports game, and it makes great use of the controller. To play baseball, you hold the controller like a bat and swing it. A tiny speaker on the controller makes the sound of a ball hitting the bat, and the haptics let you feel the crack of the impact.
My favorite part of Wii Sports, though, is the boxing game. My daughter and I had created avatars that looked like us and we used these avatars to box with each other. We each held a controller in out fists and punched at the air, making our little avatars punch at the same time. When the bell rang, I started pummeling my daughter. Yes, it felt a little funny hitting a cute cartoon avatar of my daughter wearing glasses and pigtails, but after losing to her so many times in MonkeyBall, I wasn't going to let the fact that I was her father get in the way of my chance to get revenge. I pounded away furiously, sending a jab to her head that knocked her to the ground. The referee started counting, but she was out cold. I finally won a game against her! The simplicity and intuitiveness of the controller had leveled the playing field between my daughter and me. Her days of treating me like one of those TV commercial idiot dads were over.
"Hey, no fair!" she said. "You're bigger than me."
"Payback is a mother, honey," I said. "Wanna try again?" Link
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects