Get in on the game

Wii gaming, especially bowling, draws a crowd of participants and spectators at Alexian Village of Elk Grove.

For decades children have gotten enjoyment out of playing video games. Now as technology and interests have evolved game systems aren't just for the young anymore, but also for the young at heart.

Want to get in on the game? Here's what you need to know to get started:

What's out there?

There are three main gaming systems Xbox 360, Playstation 3 (PS3 if you're talking to your grandchildren) and Nintendo Wii.

Tait Jorgenson, operations manager for Best Buy's Clark Street store in Chicago, says Xbox and Playstation tend to be geared more toward the "hard core gamer."

"Nintendo consistently makes it simple with an all ages friendly system," Jorgenson says.

"The controller itself is much easier to put in someone's hands and have them enjoy it."

If you aren't sure which is best for you, one of the questions a sales person is likely to ask is: What do you want to be able to do? Or, what type of games are you looking to play?

So, it might be helpful to spend some time in the game section of a store or on each company's website to see which games seem most interesting.

While all three systems have a wide variety of game choices the largest categories for Xbox and PS3 are action and adventure.

The Wii game system comes with Wii Sports including tennis, baseball, boxing, bowling and golf.

Participants can play alone against the computer or against several players at a time. Jorgenson says Best Buy has each gaming system set up in the store so customers can try them before making a decision.

What's popular?

Jorgenson says, while each system has its audience, the Wii system tends to be most popular with families and older adults.

"For the most part, if you are new to gaming you would certainly find the Wii to be a great system and easy to use. The games are appropriate and easy to play and follow," he says.

While video games traditionally involved people sitting and playing on the couch, the Wii revolutionized interactive games. Rather than just pushing a button, participants can swing their arms like you would with a golf club or tennis racket.

"The slightly active games are meant to get people off the couch and play," Jorgenson says.

At Alexian Village of Elk Grove, a supportive living community, they host learn to play classes for Wii and also have a group of residents who consistently play. A group of residents recently competed in a Wii bowling tournament with other teams through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Megan Rich, life enrichment manager, says people can participate whether they play sitting down or standing up.