Saturday, January 03, 2009

Wild Card Weekend – meet the Wii!

This weekend, new columnist Kate Hardy is converted to that Must Have gift of Christmas 08 - the Wii! (Note - if you got one for Christmas, post in the comments)

I should state upfront – I’ve never been a gamer. I didn’t get why my DH loved the driving games and the football games and what have you on the PlayStation. Never played Doom (or was it Dune?) on the PC.

But the Wii promised to be different. To be something that non-gamers could enjoy. (Or so the pleading from my husband and children went.) So we bought one.

Verdict? Wii Sports was OK. (I enjoyed the ten pin bowling and was rubbish at everything else). But I could take it or leave it… until Wii Fit came out. For me, it’s a double whammy. It’s fun, something I can share with the family. And it’s also a great work tool in that it helps to clear my thoughts and help me focus. It’s definitely a wind-down (and I also recommend Guitar Hero – it’s actually harder if you play the guitar for real, but it’s fun) and at the same time it helps with work.

Don’t believe me?

OK. First off, if you’ve hit the ‘uh, this isn’t going how it should do’ stage at a book, a good way to clear your head is to go for a walk, yes? With Wii Fit, you’re guaranteed to be rainproof, you don’t have to worry about traffic, and you can go round the island and find a view to inspire you – whether it’s rolling countryside or the seaside. You even get a dog for company! Keep to a steady pace, and the walking/jogging helps you think. (And, more importantly, you can stop and grab that notepad at the eureka moment to scribble down that snatch of dialogue or the plot point that’s going to fix the book. Do that in real life, and the dog is going to protest because he’s seen a sparrow or a cat or another dog or… you get the picture.)

There are two other activities in the aerobics section that are really good for letting things bubble in the back of your head: step, and boxing You have to concentrate on the pattern, just as you would in a real step class. And that’ll give you some time for your subconscious to work through a problem and give you the answer. As for the boxing: it’s a great way of getting rid of the frustrations when your characters won’t behave! And if the gym is your thing, there are muscle workouts. You set the reps, and again you can break off for the eureka moments.

Or then there are the ‘balance’ games – things that will make you do something different (and maybe give you a different perspective on the bit you’re mulling over). My two favourites are the heading game (you’d never, ever see me on a football field in real life!) and the one where you turn into a penguin and slide across the iceberg to catch fish. This also works as a wind-down because it’s fun – particularly on Sunday afternoons when you have a house full of family and you’ve been laughing a lot anyway. There’s also a tightrope to walk (which I can’t do) – oh, and the ski jump, which is hilarious (and you’d never get me on skis in real life).

And finally the games ones to help you chill out, relax, and get the muse flowing again. This is the yoga section; one of the activities makes you breathe properly, which sounds odd but is actually a brilliant if you’re stressed and panicking about the D-word. And, finally, the one where you sit still. Trickier than it sounds: you have to sit absolutely still and focus on the candle flame for a minute. Move, and the candle flickers. Move too much, and it goes out. But do it for a minute, and you’d be surprised how much more relaxed you feel.

So I'm a convert. And if you add the weight and exercise tracking tools: for someone like me, who doesn't enjoy the gym and who spends way too much time chained to a keyboard, this might just be the thing to help me keep my new year's resolutions - and enjoy them!

Kate Hardy has two books out this month:

Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded is out in the US, and is also available as an enriched e-book (with pictures, recipes and over 130 links). Romantic Times Magazine says, 'This tale is full of myriad emotions as lifelong friends become lovers. It's nice to see the hero making all the right moves and working to convince the heroine that he's a true prince.'

And The Greek Doctor’s New Year Baby is out in the UK, US and Australia/NZ.

You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website ( and her blog (


  1. Oh, I love the Wii -- which is a big statement since I avoided all games/gaming systems like the plague. But the Wii won me over. I'll play a couple of the sports games, but I'm not great at them. However, I love Guitar Hero -- and we now have World Tour (with the drum set). The Wii Fit, though, is addictive. I actually don't mind exercising.

    Does the Wii Fit heckle everyone or just me? It's bad enough that it gets touchy if I don't exercise for a few days or that it accuses me of being old and losing muscle tone, but the kicker came when it asked me if I tripped a lot when I walked. (Yes, I do, but that's a different story.)

  2. *holds hand up*

    I got one for Christmas! And a Wii fit... and erm... Spyro the Dragon :)Now can someone please tell me how to kill the bizzy things in the enchanted forest? No? DARNIT!!!

  3. Okay, I don't have one, but my sister does and after playing it at her house one weekend, I can see how completely addictive it could be--good if using the wii fit, bad if only playing games. I have enough distractions right now! LOL

  4. We got one for the Wii Fit yet. They keep selling out. Maybe I'll hunt one down this weekend. I'm shocked by what transfers from reality to Wiiality. I'm a great at bat, but can't run for...yeah. We got Outdoor Challenge which has jumprope - it seems my husband has had jumproping issues since elementary school. Thankfully, neither boy inherited this deficiency...

  5. No Wii here, or Playstation or XBox or any of those consul thingys. I'm a bit of a Nazi about telly time (as my boys spend far too much time in front of the box as it is) so I figured it was probably safer not to go that route and give them even more opportunities to sit on their butts.

    But now you've intrigued me Kate... Now if only they did WiiFit with added GCSE revision guides I'd be totally sold on it.

  6. We have one too. My kids got a Wii from grandparents last Christmas and Santa bought me Wii Fit this year. We are all totally addicted.

    It is a wonderful way to burn off some calories and the way it tracks your weight is a great incentive. I have set my targets and it encourages you when you have lost weight which is helpful.

    It heckles me too but the funniest thing is over the holidays we were all up late and it told the kids they should be in bed!! It even asked them if they had remembered to brush their teeth.

    But the best thing? We all play on it together and laugh together which is great in a house with two teens that usually just grunt at me!!

  7. We got one too! And I prefer it to other video games because if you do the sports etc. you actually have to get UP. We can't find a FIT yet either - they sell out before they are in stock. But it's on the agenda. Just the sports has been enough to make my upper body sore ALL WEEK.

  8. Kimberley - yup, it heckles. Also fusses if you overdo it. So I'm sold. Love Guitar Hero World Tour, too (though I find it easier to play the songs I don't know - the ones I do, I find myself starting to fingerpick or mess about with the whammy bar, and GH doesn't like proper guitarists *g* - might be really evil and hook up DH's Fender to the amp, to put son off...)

  9. Trish - sorry, haven't got Spyro so can't help. The kids say that Mario Galaxy is brilliant. Not that I'm trying to distract you from work or anything *g*

  10. Heather - I'm aiming to improve my work/life balance, so I'm counting it as having fun messing about with the family, rather than a distraction.

    (But I admit, it can be a big distraction. Especially Guitar Hero, as that's our newest one.)

  11. Jenna - I am SOOOO rubbish at the baseball ones. And don't start me on how bad I am at golf. (Tenpin bowling, though... that I can do)

  12. Heidi - it's a great bribe. And we have a limit on how much they're allowed to play (i.e. homework MUST be done first, and no playing after 7). I used to think it was bad for them, but actually there's research showing that it's good for helping them learn strategy and quick reactions...

    Am sure GCSE revision will come. It has to be the next step up from Brain Training/Big Brain Academy.

    (All right. So I play sudoku on the kids' DS Lite, as well...)

  13. Joanne - we haven't had the teeth thing yet. But you're right. The best thing is playing together and laughing together.

  14. I y'all think we can now justify the Wii as a write-off? We can all copy Kate's post...

    Outdoor Adventure is is's even great with board games. No clean up!

  15. We bought a Wii for Christmas and I asked for the Wii Fit. I love it! The problem is, kicking the rest of the family off the games so I can work out. :)

  16. The dh bought me mine back in the summer and I've been faithful to my little "fit" guy ever since.

    I played tennis last night and the dh and I also did the brain thing. Clearly Christmas sapped the little grey cells -- we were both down on last time!

  17. PS I can't keep my body still for more than 15 seconds!

  18. Michelle - that's when back to school is good. It's all mine... (For my work limbering up period, that is.)

  19. Liz - mine was very sarcastic this morning about how long it had been since I got on. But I was pleased to get only just below my personal best on Step.

    Somehow DH has beaten my Bubble record. That's going to have to change!

  20. I fell in love with Wii Fit when I was staying with my daughter in November. She and her daughter, age 8, did it regularly, and got me doing it, too. Then all my kids (with daughter the instigator) got together to get me the Wii and Fit for Christmas. It arrived in November, so I've been enjoying it ever since.

    I didn't think I was ever going to get the hang of the soccer ball heading (I'm still rubbish at being a penguin), but the soccer heading has improved. I'm an ace at Table Tilt, though. And I'm not a bad tightrope walker now, either. I won't be doing those one arm push-ups, though.

  21. I can't do Table Tilt or the tightrope, Anne, so hats off to you. But I'm a great penguin. (It's even the same shape as I am *g*)