banner

 

January 23, 2009

 

Seniors stay active playing video games

Cortland Senior Center began using Nintendo Wii in October; seniors have been bowling ever since

NintendoBob Ellis/staff photographer
Former bowler George Ely, center, “bowls” with fellow seniors during a game of bowling on the Wii video game system at the Cortland Senior Center Thursday morning. From left watching is, Bob Ferro, Pat Stupke, Clara Bleck and Barb Adams.

By ANTHONY BORRELLI
Staff Reporter
aborrelli@cortlandstandard.net

As Barb Adams grinned and shrugged after scoring another strike, someone behind her shouted, “show-off.”
She bowled another strike the next turn.
Adams, 84, has not been able to pick up a bowling ball in many years due to tendonitis in her shoulder. But in recent months she has gotten a virtual taste of the game.
Adams was among eight visitors to the Cortland Senior Center playing a simulated bowling game with a Nintendo Wii.
As many as 12 local senior citizens have spent hours each day in recent months hoping to rack up the most strikes as the video game plays out on a television screen in front of them.
Senior Center Manager Nancy Dorn thought the Wii would be a good opportunity for the seniors to get up and move around without too much unnecessary stress.
“We saw the Wii was growing in popularity and a big reason is that it’s good for exercise,” Dorn said. “They go through all the motions and for them it’s still something, as minimal as it is.”
The Wii, introduced in 2006, differs from other video gaming systems because of its wireless controller that reacts to the player’s movement.
If the player swings the controller slowly, the ball will travel down the lane just as slow in the game.
The Senior Center council paid for the Wii system and game in October, plus several additional controllers for about $400 total.
Dorn said she expects to get more Wii games, including tennis since bowling became so popular.
“Now they’re experts,” Dorn said.
Clara Bleck said she had never bowled in her life, much less on a Wii. After a few less-than perfect tries and some coaching, her aim improved.
After picking up a spare in the first round of her second game, Bleck, 78, smiled and said, “I’m getting the hang of this.”
Not everyone flocked to the Wii at once when it was introduced, Dorn said.
“A few wanted to sit back and watch to see how it was done at first,” Dorn said.
That did not last long.
Most who play at the senior center have bowled in their youth and can rack up as many as five strikes in a single game.
“It’s been a draw, most of us probably wouldn’t be here as much if it weren’t here,” said Pat Stupke, 75.
The anticipation Thursday in the recreation room was no different than in a local bowling alley.
Cheers grew louder as players hoped a wayward ball would wander closer to the desired pins to pick up a spare.
Sometimes the ball would miss the pins completely if it was not aimed property, but that did not diminish the fun.
“It’s a nice fellowship for all of us,” said Betty Smith, 74. “I feel better, it makes me alive.”
Stupke, who bowled often in her youth, has not been able to go to the lanes in years because it strained her back.
Stupke has been eager to beat her best score of 237, which is among the highest of those who play at the senior center.
“It’s exactly the same as normal bowling, just not with a heavy ball,” she said. “That’s a big advantage for us, a lot of us have back problems.”
All it takes is a flick of the wrist, she said. The player lines up their shot using the directional pad on the controller.
“There’s just as much a chance of us getting a gutter ball with the Wii than at the bowling alley,” said George Ely, 68.
A stroke in 1996 left Ely’s left side paralyzed, limiting his options for physical activity. It was for that reason that he has become an avid Wii player, he said.
“This is as close to it as I’m going to get,” he said.
Pat and Bob Ferro, former league bowlers and now-avid Wii players, said they are no strangers to video games, even in their older years.
Pat, 68, said she bought her husband Bob, 71, a PlayStation 2 several years ago for an anniversary present. Bob said he loves playing Tetris with his 10-year-old grandson, Connor.
Pat admitted she knew little about the Wii, but was not surprised by how quickly she and her husband became hooked.
Clara Bleck said she had never bowled in her life, much less on a Wii. After a few less-than perfect tries and some coaching, her aim improved.
After picking up a spare in the first round of her second game, Bleck, 78, smiled and said, “I’m getting the hang of this.”
It was nearly lunchtime at about 11 a.m. Thursday and the Wii crowd began to dwindle, but that did not put an end to the playing.
“Is anyone going for another round?” asked Stupke, controller in hand.

 

To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe