Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Paging Dr. Mario

I've always believed that allowing my children to play video games didn't automatically qualify me for Bad Mother of the Year honors, although some would disagree. Fortunately, Nintendo's Wii has made it more difficult for the holier-than-thous to cast aspersions on my parenting skills. If you've ever seen kids play Wii, you know that many of the games are physically somewhat rigorous. In addition, the development of hand-eye coordination, even entire body coordination, from video gaming is pretty astounding. My kids seem to have an intuitive connection to virtual reality that I certainly don't have.

Eric has a theory that the Department of Defense is keeping a close eye on young gamers for future recruitment into military service. Technology has enabled military operations -- from dogfighting to tank-dozing to missile launching -- to be performed using controls and video monitors, not hands and eyes. The real world has been reduced to a game! Becoming proficient at the game won't be enough in a high-stakes situation. Only expert gamers will possess the true intuition necessary to obliterate the enemy, and move to the next level.

Now I find that there is another benefit to playing the Wii -- the honing of surgical skills. My ex-husband, the surgeon, will be thrilled to know that all the time our children spend not studying may actually make them fine physicians one day!

With many of the Wii games, success is based on subtle movements of the wrist and hand. Similarly, endoscopic surgical procedures are performed, not by making a large incision and playing around in the goo, but by inserting into the body a narrow instrument with fiber optics and performing the surgery watching a video screen.

In a recent experiment with surgical residents, half the group played Wii Marble Mania and the full complement of Wii Play games for an hour; the other half did not. The gamers were then pitted against their less-fortunate colleagues in a computer-simulated laparoscopic procedure, and managed to attain 48% higher scores, on average, than the non-gamers.

The researchers behind the experiment are developing Wii software that will simulate surgical procedures. A training platform based on the virtual console could be used to train surgeons in developing countries instead of traditional virtual training tools that are usually more expensive.

Once again, my mother's intuition has served my children well. Goody-two-shoes mommies, I await my tiara.



suesun said...

I'm no goodie two shoes mommy, but I still prefer that my boys hone their fine motor skills by whittling sticks into sharp points with pocket knives.

Wii is what their friends' houses are for.
Great photo!

Marie Walden said...

I actually spend quite a lot of my time keeping my kids away from isolating electronic pursuits. I want all of us to live balanced and healthy lives, and I think we do.

I love the comment that Wii is what their friends' houses are for. We were one of the first to get a Wii system and suddenly my kids had lots of new friends!

As for the goodie two shoes issue, I am a firm believer that parents should raise their children however they see fit. I used to occasionally feel judged by new mommies who would bring their 4-year-olds to preschool in fully matched GAP outfits, perfect hair, new shoes, etc.

I, on the other hand, always allowed my kids to dress however they wanted to. They were allowed to style their own hair, which occasionally necessitated a dozen scrunchies. Every day they went to school feeling gorgeous and fashionable, like performance artists, even though they actually looked like they'd come from a roadside circus. The teachers thought it was great. The other moms, not so much.

T.R. said...

I would like to reverse my position on cloning please. I think we should clone a couple million copies of Marie Walden to spread around the world. Oh what a world that would be!

T.R. said...

The other thing folks forget about the Wii is that it has cross generational appeal and often brings together technologically disparate groups of the household - grandmothers joining grandchildren, aunts with nephews, etc.