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Virtual gaming a hit at center

Mary St. Vincent cheers as Addie Albright and Dell Edmundson play the Senior Center's Wii video game. (Submitted photo)

Addie Albright has been bowling for years. She still does it the old-fashioned way, but now she's also doing it virtually.

"I like that there is no heavy ball with this," said Albright, one of the seniors who is making use of the South Washington Senior Center's new Wii.

The Wii is a Nintendo video game console in which the controller detects motion. So to hit a baseball, players hold the controller up as if it were a bat and to bowl, they just swing it as if it were a bowling ball.

The center bought the system because it proved to be a successful tool at other senior centers and nursing homes, said Rebecca Kropelnicki, Marketing and intergenerational activities coordinator for the center.

"It has been a hit," said Kropelnicki. "The Wii brings people together to have fun and it is an interactive way to get people out of their chairs."

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until 11 a.m. the Wii is played on a 20-foot projection screen.

"It feels real," said Kropelnicki. "It feels like you are actually bowling at an alley."

The Wii keeps track of scores and is capable of creating leagues or teams consisting of four people.

Bowling, tennis, target shooting and cow racing are among the more popular games played at the center, Kropelnicki said.

"I like the target shooting," said Mary St. Vincent, a senior from the center. "I like the challenge of it."

There is a huge learning curve because of the technology, Kropelnicki said. Instructors for the Wii are available upon request. A student volunteer from the high school is interested in teaching the seniors how to play.

"My ball does not always go where I want it to go." St. Vincent said. "But I have only played a few times."

Kropelnicki encourages and hopes to see the seniors learning together, and then continuing on by teaching others how to play Wii games.

The South Washington Senior Center is located at 8400 E. Point Douglas Road in Cottage Grove.

Brynn Baker can be reached at