Video game flips into evil dance mode

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Over Christmas my wife and I were given a video game system. I won't mention which one, (it rhymes with what a certain little piggy does all the way home). At first it seemed like a welcome addition to the family.

It sat quietly by the television, minding its own business, waiting patiently for me to get home and shoot things, or go fishing, or immerse myself in the lives of a pair of Italian plumbers. It was too good to last.

Recently, however, the machine turned sinister. Here's what happened:

My wife needed to drive to Salem, and with the weather turning foul she asked if I could handle the driving. I agreed. Husbands are suckers for compliments on our driving skills.

We headed out early to make sure we didn't miss any potential hazardous weather. Quarter-sized flakes slapped with a sloppy abandon against our windshield. Any snow that missed was flung back up onto the car by passing semi-trucks.

After several hours, my hands cramped around the steering wheel. My eyeballs cramped, too. And then the weather broke, the road cleared -- and we came to dead stop.

Roughly 17 million semi-trucks had backed up waiting for road crews to clear a collision somewhere ahead of us. After waiting for several hours, we began to creep forward, and having missed our appointment, we turned at the first exit and headed for home.

On the way home we stopped to eat at a freezing restaurant where the wait staff's only objective was to get us to leave and quit hogging the apparently limited supply of oxygen.

By the time we dragged ourselves through our front door, my wife and I were exhausted, cranky and hungry.

This is when the un-named video game system revealed its dark side.

Of course, I should have guessed something was wrong when my wife offered to fire up the game system so we could relax and let off some steam, but I was so tired I missed the red flags.

"I saw this at the rental store and thought it would be fun," the love of my life said.

An hour later I reflected that I had never seen this particular game at the store, but I may not have been looking. The premise of the game is that you, the gamer, are out "clubbing" at a night club and a dance competition starts.

Because you, the gamer, are a world-class dance expert, you immediately join and begin flailing your entire body around in an effort to earn stars that -- wait for it -- allow you to keep flailing your body around to new and different songs you had hoped you would never hear again after you graduated from high school.

At least that's how it seemed to me. I'm a farm boy and I have been trained to throw small cows on the ground and catch pigs in a rain storm. The only time I have ever been "clubbing" it involved a large stick.

My wife, on the other hand, is a very good dancer.

Recently scientists at major research universities have released studies that show A) women are different than men, and B) they should probably get more grant funding to find out why.

A study from the Stanford University School of Medicine shows men and women experience pain differently.

Another related study from Jagiellonian University Hospital in Krakow, Poland, shows men and women respond to dangerous situations differently.

In the hope that I can cash in on grant funding, I would like to point out that men and women respond to dance games differently. For example, it seemed important to my wife to attempt to copy the on-screen avatar.

"Oooh, I know this song," my wife would say as she performed flourishes to the already impossible moves.

I, on the other hand, focused on earning valuable star points. I looked like a marionette puppet being controlled by an epileptic chimpanzee. I got three stars though, and my wife shot milk from her nose and got a side ache from laughing so hard.

Luke Hegdal can be reached at lukehegdal@wwub.com or 526-8326.

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