Everyone is Going Outside. I’d Rather Play Wii Sports
This Saturday marked the next turning point in the battle against COVID-19. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered that all state and county parks were to reopen. The decree falls in line with a decrease in coronavirus cases in the state, a flattening of the curve.
As a photographer and generally inquisitive mind, I went to the first place I could think to go on a 72 degree afternoon 23 days before the unofficial start of New Jersey’s summer: the beach. I didn’t dare go for the water — I can’t swim — nor the sand (it’s coarse, and rough and irritating and gets everywhere). Rather from the safety of my car, I ventured east to participate in a spectator sport, checking out all of the egregious instances of people not social distancing.
Surprisingly, people were spaced well. The beach saw what I’d describe as pockets of households. A few 20-something roommates. Mom, Dad, the kids and dogs. The most outrageous offenses were the people biking and jogging mask-less — one unpublished study suggested that exercisers are capable of dispersing infectious COVID-19 droplets over longer distances than non-exercisers, though that needs to be taken with a dose of skepticism.
Had I arrived to the water early enough, and with the intention of getting out the car, I might have considered finding a space with a six-foot buffer zone from other individuals. My anecdotal evidence would suggest that folks were quick to adhere to social distancing requirements.
At least on the beach they did.
Though local authorities roped off the boardwalk to all manner of amblers, cyclists, and other creatures in motion, the open areas around the beach poised the biggest health risk. The parking lot was packed to capacity, and idling cars — with the windows rolled all the way down — sat in a collective haze waiting for spaces to vacate. And for those who managed to get a space, they crowded the sidewalks before heading sandside, patronizing the businesses providing takeout food and desserts.
Rather than up and over the nose and mouth, sidewalkers parked them squarely on their chins, licking away at gelato or chop sticking ramen into their mouths. The businesses were partially to blame for the lax social mood. The once barren outdoor eating tables had their cache of chairs replenished, giving eaters the chance to eat next to whichever stranger sat near them first. It was spring break all over again.
The quarantine is taking its toll on people. Being cooped up inside has influenced researchers to study a potential rise in post-traumatic stress cases. People need an outlet and the trial weekend for the great outdoors offered the first reprieve in nearly two months. But the risks of jauntying to a crowded beach or park are too high, at least in my estimation.
I’d rather stay inside and play Wii Sports.
If ever there were a time to dust off Nintendo’s sixth generation gem, it’s now. Released in 2006, the console came bundled with Wii Sports, a collection of five games — baseball, bowling, boxing, golf and tennis. 82 million copies shipped worldwide. Chances are you have a copy lying around somewhere.
Taken seriously, Wii Sports is enough to get your blood pumping. Baseball and boxing are master classes in reflex training. Switching between forehands and backhands in tennis will leave you sore in the morning. Wii Sports is a certified aerobic classic.
The quarantine possibilities for Wii Sports and its successor, Wii Sports Resort begs the question: can Nintendo re-release these classics?
Nintendo might not be a non-profit, but it certainly has a reputation for supporting the greater good. According to the company’s corporate social responsibility policy, Nintendo of America works with non-profit organizations in and around the Redmond, Washington area. They’ll match employee charitable contributions, as well as formed the NGiving Committee, which supports employees’ charitable activities. Re-releasing Wii Sports would be a philanthropic effort, giving people an outlet for activity that doesn’t require leaving the house.
Moreover, the technology is, or at least should be, in place. The Switch, which supports motion input via the Joy Cons, has already seen a Wii Tennis-like game in the form of Mario Tennis Aces. Additionally, Nintendo’s reliance on peer-to-peer gaming rather regional servers should allow for accessible online play without requiring new technological infrastructure. (As an added vote of confidence Steam and Good Old Games recently gave online multiplayer back to Star Wars: Battlefront, which is 16 years young.)
There’s no easy way to spend time under lockdown. Daily news has become a depress-fest, with negative headlines outweighing the positive. Re-releasing Wii Sports would be a welcomed surprise, even if it’s only a minor distraction from the outside world.