It’s not just for the kids.

Published 8:25 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Seniors are scrambling for a turn at playing on Nintendo’s Wii game system.

“It hooks you the first time,” said Carole Hughes, anxiously awaiting her turn at bowling on a Wii gaming console. “It’s just like being in a bowling alley.”

At the Somerset County Area Agency on Aging’s Center for Life in Windber, seniors are lining up to do as their grandkids do: Play video games.

Hughes and her husband, Ray, started recruiting friends to join them after they tried virtual bowling at the center last month. The couple wanted to buy their own console after the first frames.

The Wii system requires players to move around and simulate the actions of the game.

Center administrators bought the Wii about a year ago, but interest has picked up now that a volunteer is on hand to train would-be gamers.

Volunteer Bernie Vater practiced at home, then set up the console in the middle of a room during social hour. A few brave souls gave it a shot.

Now, as many as 10 at a time wait their turn for a remote.

“That got them out of their chairs,” Vater said.

The Wii has become so popular that administrators are planning to form Wii leagues, which will be open to the public.

Administrators want to buy more consoles and possibly set them up at other senior centers in Somerset County.

For those who don’t care to bowl, the center’s Wii has other games including golf, fishing, tennis, boxing and baseball.

Shirley Blackburn of Windber joked that she and her husband, Ed, could have a good time duking it out in the ring.

Agency official Eleanor Pile said administrators and residents wanted something new.

“They wanted us to have a pool table,” she said. “They are loving the Wii.”

Kecia Bal writes for The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa.