Monday, October 15, 2012

"No Raymond on Lesson Days!" or 3 Weeks With a Wii

We've had the Wii plugged in for three weeks now.  I hope this box can take heavy use, because with three children it's getting it.

Currently the two girls homeschooled for several hours a day on weekdays, while the 4yo gets a few minutes of lessons.  I allow video games before breakfast and after lessons.  In addition, the girls get two 20 minute "game breaks" one third and two thirds through their lessons to refresh their brains, although in practice they usually take one break around lunch.  The preschooler sleeps until around 10 in the morning and gets pulled off the console in the afternoon to play outside.  They're still undecided on if they'd rather watch TV or play video games at night.

The most obvious change can be seen in the mornings.  No more lazing about in bed for the girls.  The earlier they're up the longer they can play without the toddler.  Owl has limits on his playtime, but at 4 he's trying the "scream louder to get your way" stunt.  The fact that it hasn't worked so far hasn't deterred him yet.

I can see the appeal of mini-games.  In practice I've only got 15-20 minutes/day to play a game and gosh darn it, I'd like to see where I've made just a teeny tiny amount of actual progress in that time.  I've heard the appeal of immersive games is to "lose yourself" in them, but I'd have to "lose" the children first.

As for the games themselves we're currently playing Mario Kart Wii, Boom Blox Bash Party, Active Life Explorer, Just Dance Kids, and Raymond's Raving Rabbids Ultimate Party Collection.

Mario Kart is the children's favorite, especially for our truck-crazy 4yo.  It's fun and very well-designed.

Active Life Explorer is their second favorite.  It lets you be Indiana Jones.  Who doesn't want to be Indiana Jones?  You can really work up a sweat having fun stopping runaway trains and diving for treasure in this game.  I haven't tried it yet as my knee is acting up, but the children love it.  Unfortunately it works with the GameBoy ports and a special mat that can't be plugged into the latest model Wii, so the series it's a part of is going out of print, and the remaining games are selling for insane prices.  Even more unfortunately, it doesn't look like any more of the series will be made.  :(

Boom Box Bash Party is third on their list and first on mine.  The toddler just likes to throw bombs; but dh, the preteens, and I appreciate the intricate puzzles that many of the games present.

Just Dance Kids comes in a distant fourth for the children.  They like it more as a change of pace or a morning exercise program, although their interest has perked up after I showed them you can make playlists.  Yes, the scoring weights toward the arms, but with my knee acting up I can stand still and get a good upper body workout without my score tanking so I shan't complain about that aspect.

Raymond's Raving Rabbids is very fun is a gross, preteen sort of way; but you have to finish huge chunks of it before you can record any progress in your overall score.  For this reason it's confined to weekends when the girls can spend an uninterrupted hour or two with it.

The Wii has done a lot for promoting cooperative play amongst them, although Owl's patience wears thin on occasion.  We weren't able to play board games or card games without all the pieces being lost or destroyed, so this fills a huge gap in that regard.

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