Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hey, Wii want to Party - Great Wii Game for Autism Spectrum Kids & Teens

As I type this blog, I am watching my husband at his desk with his headphones on, swaying his head back and forth to whatever music (or political show!!!) he might be listening to.  Nice to see him relaxing...

Justin and Ryan are playing cooperatively together at Justin's desk.  They're excitedly enjoying a game that Justin made up for the two of them. It's an offline and online personally created version of Wii Party's Board Game Island.  It's based in concept on the Wii Game but Justin has created little mini-games that the boys can do here at home that are not part of the actual game itself.  It's actually quite intricate which doesn't surprise me since Justin is already skilled in gaming and program design. I am truly impressed with the creativity and teamwork they are showing.  John's contribution of seeing how many times you can get Bert the Farting Hippo (John has his own NCIS replica) to fart in one minute makes for a lot of added giggles.

With a lull in craziness in our office, I'm going to try and get through a quick blog for you.  The topic today is pretty light and focuses on cooperative play in the form of a video game.

The boys got Wii Party for Christmas and as a family, we've been enjoying it ever since.  If you know of children on the autism spectrum, this game has many terrific opportunities for promoting social skills and cooperation. Ryan, our four year old is able to play most of the activities with just a little bit of guidance. Justin who is 11 is able to show success in almost all of the games.


One thing that the whole family likes is that this game allows you to use your Mii characters.  At some point I'll have to take some actual pictures of these and add them to the blog.  It's funny how much both Ryan's and John's Mii characters resemble them.  Justin's is pretty accurate too.  Before I got my haircut, mine did a fairly decent job representing me.  "Tigress" is one cool wildcat. One shouldn't expect any less!

Speaking of Mii characters, the boys have also created characters for all their grandparents.  This way, even though the grandparents aren't with us here physically, they can enjoy knowing that at regular intervals they are flying, diving, skiing, playing baseball, hitting golf balls, swinging on tree vines and playing all kinds of games.  The boys get a real kick out of it and I have to say it's pretty fun too watching my parents' Miis show up at random times to cheer on the family in various games.  I hope they appreciate the chance to exercise!

There really are a wide variety of games to play on Wii Party.  I was surprised.  No-one has gotten bored yet because the diversity in minigames, game modes and skill levels keeps one challenged. There are plenty of activities for four players, three, two or one.  You can engage in a 30 - 45 minute game like Board Game Island or you can test your skill in various mini-games that only take a couple minutes or so to play. 

For children, teenagers and adults on the autism spectrum who are working on learning cooperative skills, we recommend playing Balance Boat.  If you go to any autism support events that encourage game-playing among the kids with Asperger's or ASDs, this game has a lot of potential.

If the child or teenager hasn't played before and can easily get flustered, it's best at first to have one understanding adult with a sense of humor show the ropes because some of the mini-games do take a little practice to get the hang of.  

Fortunately there IS a practice mode so that you can try and figure out how to play in advance. Balance Boat has two parts to it. The bigger game is the balance boat where you and a partner have to balance characters of equal or different size on a three level-boat.  To do so, you play up to 10 levels of cooperative mini-games where two players work together to try and clear a level.  Wii Party has around 80 mini-games with varying difficulty and the computer randomly chooses a different game for each level.

I'll have to admit, depending on how important it is for your children to "win", it can be challenging to play some of the games which require more skill.  Whenever John and I get involved in these kinds of games with the boys, we try to put "winning" on the back burner (in terms of domination) and focus more on having fun, learning new skills and practicing turn-taking and good sportsmanship.  Being that John and I are actually very competitive people, we can understand and relate to the kids wanting to "win". In fact when we occasionally play by ourselves after the kids go to bed, it's an all out battle.  When we're with the boys, we often downplay to an extent where everyone can feel success.  That isn't to say we throw every game or don't try but it means we give an opportunity for the boys to feel good about winning.  

With a game like Wii Party, there are lots of opportunities for success.  A lot of the games also have a lot of luck built in so unless you have really bad luck consistently, everyone should find a game where they have the chance to win.

We got some other games as gifts for Christmas too. The boys are enjoying building tracks with their new Hot Wheels racer game and John and I have realized just how silly and ridiculous we look emulating the moves to Wii's Just Dance Kids. That being said, it's GREAT exercise, clean fun and if you can laugh at yourself, it's a cute game to play with the kids.  

In Washington, we're in our rainy season so having games like this help us get exercise and have fun without realizing it.  Next up on my "to try" list is the Wii Fit.  We actually got it a year ago and yeah... it's been sitting around unused.  I figured if I could boogie to the dances on Just Dance Kids, trying Wii Fit is a natural next step to me improving my shape and fitness.

Any other Wii owners out there?  What are your favorite games both for your children and yourself?  Do any of you use the Wii to workout?  Success?  Challenges? Inquiring minds want to know!  Feel free to post anonymously if you'd like!

Well, I'm ending this blog early tonight because I'm going to give myself some special reading time. There is a book calling my name and I'm listening.  I told myself if I got a certain number of hours of work in this week, I would treat myself to reading time this evening.  So on that note, I'll bid you adieu!

Wishing you, Mii and Wii a great rest of the weekend!
Karen

4 comments:

  1. I have a direct download link to a zip file that you can download the program and run it.

    4 PLAYERS!!!

    This app will be updated constanly.

    Download Link 1:
    http://justinkapps.webs.com/downloads/BoardGameIsland.zip

    This is on my Webs (FreeWebs) website.

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  2. Hi Justin,
    Can you explain a bit how you created the game app? I'm quite impressed. :-)

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  3. I think you sold me at the farting hippo. My boys (unfortunately) think that farting is the height of humor. They'll play anything that involves it.

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  4. Hi Gavin!
    Ahh, the farting hippo... Actually, he is unfortunately (???!!!!???) not part of the real Wii Party game. He was incorporated into the fantasy Board Game Island game that Justin created for him and his brother to play. John helped contribute the farting hippo as a novelty.

    Yes indeed, farting humor brings a lot of giggles to our boys as well. Charming, isn't it?

    Karen :-)

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