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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

Strikers is a short documentary of the power of Wii Sports Bowling

One of the biggest topics that have arisen in the discussion of video games is accessibility, as in making video games more accessible for more players. The term accessibility can mean many things. For some, it's the ability to make certain games available on more platforms, as opposed to being exclusively available on one. For others, various difficulty settings ensure players can tailor their experience to what they prefer. But, accessibility can also mean letting players of any age be able to play. It has been said time and time again how amazing video games can be for mental health, and the short-documentary Strikers demonstrates the power of games for the elderly and the disabled.

Strikers aired on the YouTube channel Short of the Week, which collects various short productions into one channel, from anti-mutation to documentaries to a variety of short films ranging from horror to science-fiction. This channel posted the short documentary Exit 12, which highlighted a dance production company founded by Veterans to tell the story of Veterans. Strikers focus on a group of bowlers from Illinois. However, these aren't any ordinary bowlers, as they deal with very specific bowling: Wii Sports Bowling. The team is known as the Eden Strikers, representing Eden Supportive Living. Every year, the Illinois Affordable Assisted Living Coalition hosts a tournament in Springfield, Illinois. The Eden Strikers compete with several nursing home bowling leagues, including their arch-rivals from Bolingbrook. It's all for fun and camaraderie, and the team competes with determination to win the tournament. the12 minute documentary gives a brief glimpse into the lives of the Eden Strikers and the tournament. The team consists of seniors who share their enthusiasm for bowling and what Wii Sports has been able to provide, with one being grateful for the ability to find friends with the game following an unexpected heart attack.

While it's a short documentary, the 12 minutes we have with the Eden Strikers, and the rest of the participants, is nothing short of profound. Video games have broken barriers, and as games reach seniors and the disabled, the barriers are being broken further. In Strikers, there is a team united by their love of bowling, and the bowling part of Wii Sports fulfills a philosophy for players. That philosophy resides in striking (pun intended) a balance between a game experience that is easy to accept and understand and an experience to provide that sensation of challenging competitive play. The movements, the anticipation, the feedback, the mental calculus in positioning the arm and wrist in the right moment to achieve the goal of striking the pins. These are players not restricted and bound to their physical limitations as their competitive spirit breathes life into themselves with every strike of the pins and flick of the wrist. There's elation, excitement, determination, and maybe a bit of disappointment, but it's all in good fun, which is good for the heart and the mind.

It shows that video games continue to be a medium that needs to be treated with respect and further explored, as well as further pursued to make available for audiences everywhere. Using games to treat physical and mental disabilities has been an ongoing pursuit for some time. According to research found in the National Library of Medicine, Video games improve 69% of psychological therapy outcomes, 59% of physical therapy outcomes, 50% of physical activity outcomes, 42% of health education outcomes, and 42% of pain distraction outcomes. While the research dates to 2012, it's a function that continues to impact today, and you can see it in the expressions of the Eden Strikers.

Strikers is available for free to watch on YouTube. Strikers is an If/Then and Field_Of_Vision production.

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