Friday, October 24, 2008

Dharma Games

Technology has trotted through our household at a brisk clip: last weekend we received a Wii from my inlaws, and yesterday Rebecca finagled a Wii Fit. We tried it out last night but this morning I used it in earnest: half an hour of yoga to wake up, and 45 minutes of cardio after lunch. Now, leaping into it like this means nothing: I tend to geek out on something for about two weeks and then abandon it (see also: calligraphy, linoleum carving, silk screen printing, &c.).

What Wii Fit has going for it is that it doesn't release all its goodies all at once. You have to earn the best stuff: put in enough time and you gain in-game credit to unlock new exercises or advanced skill levels. That taps into my competitive/achiever spirit and I'll hammer away at winning all these opportunities to work out even more.

On the other hand, when I'm in a losing battle, I tend to turn deconstructionist and break a scenario into its component parts. Sure, I could continue playing World of Warcraft, shelling out $72/year, but what is this game really? Didn't I really complete the game at first level? Goals were set, resources were acquired, monsters were slain and tallied, and I was rewarded with advancement. What, essentially, makes the endgame any different than that? After a year of clawing tooth-and-nail to level 59, this is why I don't feel bad about letting my subscription lapse.

I could do the same thing with Wii Fit. If I can't regulate my balance in Sun Salutation pose, I can consider myself to have essentially grasped the fundamentals and walk away from it without further need to improve my score. I hope I don't, but I can totally see myself doing this. And then we've just bought another expensive toy we don't play with.

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