Victor LoBello, 63, competes in a Nintendo Wii bowling league at Giovan’s, a restaurant in Crest Hill, Ill. - Image courtesy New York Times
Nintendo console bowling over the geriatric

The Nintendo Wii continues to cross the once-thought to be impossible barrier: age. Nintendo, traditionally a company focused on the younger spectrum of gamers, is experiencing unparalleled success amongst the elderly. In February, the Wii became latest rage at the Sedgebrook retirement community in Lincolnshire.

The latest success story of the Wii comes from Greenspring Village Community in Springfield, Virginia, where retirees have quickly grown fond of Wii Sports. Not only is the entire video game industry, including Nintendo, surprised at Wii’s broad appeal, but retirees are surprised at the fact that they are now part of the video game demographic.

“I'm 82 years old, so I missed that part of our culture. Soap operas, yes. Video games, no,” said Ruth Ebert, part of the Greenspring Village Community. “It was funny, because normally I would not be someone who would do that,” she said, referring to playing video games.

Ebert one day picked up the Wii Remote to try Wii Tennis, which reminded her of younger days when she played the sport. “I played tennis, if you can call it that, as a high school student. I had such fun doing it,” she said.

Baltimore-based Erickson Retirement Communities manages more than 18 retirement establishments around the country with 19,000 residents is installing Wii consoles in each of its locations, according to the New York Times.

Although Wii Sports consists of five different activities, Wii Bowling appears to be the most popular in the upper age bracket. Flora Dierbach, 72, helps organize Wii Bowling tournaments in Erickson Retirement Communities in Chicago and tells of the virtues of virtual bowling. “It's a very social thing and it's good exercise ... and you don't have to throw a 16-pound (7.25-kg) bowling ball to get results,” said Dierbach to Reuters. “We just had a ball with it. You think it's your grandkids' game and it's not.”

Wii Bowling is also spreading to those outside retirement homes. Dick Norwood, 61, owner of a Wii and privy to its features, convinced a local Italian restaurant to being a seniors-only Wii Bowling League, where nine couples now show up for every Thursday.

“When I started calling people about it, they had no idea what I was talking about, and they were laughing at me saying, ‘You want to start a bowling league on a video game in a bar?’” Norwood told the New York Times. “Well, we got there the first time, and we were there for six solid hours. In the past, I probably would have agreed that video games are just for kids. But I’ll tell you, at our age when you bowl for real, you wake up with aches and pains. Those balls aren’t light. But with this you’re getting good exercise, but you’re not aching the next day.”

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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