The real thing

Today is National Video Game Day. And although seemingly polar opposites, fishing video games are surprisingly popular. These virtual fish always bite and can be caught at any time of the day or year in the air-conditioned comfort of indoor spaces.

For teenagers, some video games are very easy. You let a player dangle a bare hook until a smiling, aimlessly wandering cartoon fish hums the controller. One quick jerk and the fish is caught to the strumming of a harp and instantly converted into a point value.

Older gamers may appreciate computer games in which programmers have tried to incorporate more realistic functions. Variables such as season, weather conditions, location and type of coverage determine the stage. The player then chooses a combination of rod and reel, line thickness, bait and aims at the throw. Success is determined in part by this selection, but also by controlling the pole tip, setting the resistance, and monitoring line tension.

Daniel Griffith, Water Education Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, helps out with a fishing simulator at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, September 28-30. Here children (and adults) sit in a fighting chair and can hold and manipulate a real rod and reel while a fish appears to take the line and bend the rod on a screen. Mr. Griffith says by feeling the pull of a fish it accomplished the goal of creating an experience that would want them to come back for more or to want to do the right thing.

And that’s what it’s about. Even with a real rod and reel in hand, no flickering screen will ever rival the powerful experience of really getting out on the water and fishing.

My kids have several fishing video games, but when there’s no thunderstorm, blizzard, or a long drive, the games collect dust. They get so excited after playing a fishing video game that tackle boxes appear and get sorted. Once again. Bait deals are made. And I have to punch a few holes in ice to have open water to pour – really.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida but raised on the banks of farm ponds in Oklahoma, he now hunts pike, small bass and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After graduating with a degree in zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, in the US state of Iowa and the US state of Michigan.

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