Wii is a perfect fit for octagenarian

  • Article by: BILL WARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 18, 2011 - 11:19 PM

An 85-year-old Wisconsin man has racked up a score of 300 in nearly 3,000 games on the Nintendo video-game system.

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John Bates with his certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records authenticating his record for most perfect scores in Wii Bowling.

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John Bates has no time for spares, and not just because he's 85.

When the Onalaska, Wis., retiree plays a virtual bowling game on the Nintendo Wii, any score short of 300 will not do. "If I get five or six strikes and then a spare, I quit that game," he said.

That quest for perfection has landed Bates in the "Guinness World Records 2011 Gamer's Edition" (Brady Games, $15) for "Most Perfect Scores Achieved on Wii Sports Bowling." The official record? A whopping 2,850 perfect games.

Encouraged by friends Richard and Lynn Bott, the retired school principal caught the Wii bug in 2008. It took him a year to nail his first perfect score in bowling. Then came the turning point: tapping into his ambidexterity.

"I'm right-handed but can bowl equally well with either hand," Bates said. "My son got me using two hands under the ball. I got up from 22 percent strikes to nearly 90 percent."

Unlike most of his Guinness peers -- including a man with 5,400 items of "Super Mario" memorabilia -- Bates is hardly obsessive. He never has Wii-bowled more than 21 games in a day. (At about 4 minutes per game, that's less than 1 1/2 hours.) He bakes and cooks for himself, goes to church most mornings, bikes when the weather allows and, yes, plays "regular" bowling, where he rolled a 594 series last week.

His best score at the alleys is a 281, but at the Wii console, Bates is now up to 3,200 perfect games. And he welcomes all challengers.

"If you don't grip the remote and set up the cursor just right, it doesn't work," he said. "It's not as simple as it sounds."

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