Better than Video Games


Is there anything cooler than video games? Ask me that question and I could name hundreds of things. But I’m a 50-something guy who was an adult before video gaming began to super-dazzle us with eye-popping graphics and deeper story. Ask your average teenage guy (or twentysomething guy, for that matter), and you’re likely to get a very different answer.

But not every teen would agree. Ask Austin, Trevor and Connor Bartz of New Brighton, Minn., here’s what you’d get:

“You don’t make life memories playing video games,” says one the Bartz brothers to NBC’s Kevin Tibbles on the Nightly News. “You make ‘em doing some stuff like this.”

“Stuff like this,” as it turns out, is making snow sculptures on their front lawn. This year’s snow-art took the boys more than 500 hours to construct, the final product being an octopus more than 18 feet tall and 35 feet wide and fashioned using 150 tons of snow. Past sculptures have included a puffer fish, shark and turtle.

And while simply leaving the gaming console alone to get outside (in cold, cold weather) for hundreds of hours is admirable, these guys aren’t in it simply to impress their neighbors. In fact, impressing neighbors seems to be the furthest thing from their minds. Instead, they sculpt snow for a cause, bringing awareness to the need for clean drinking water in Haiti. To date, donations have exceeded $8,000.

Yeah, I’d say that was cooler (like below zero cooler) than playing video games!

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Marissa More than 1 year ago
Y'all are going way out of your way to slam video games on this one. Who would ever have thought that making snow sculptures and playing video games were somehow mutually exclusive? You can do both, and have fun doing both. 

Also, snow melts. Those sculptures are cool, but in the summer they're are going to be gone and forgotten. You know what isn't easily forgotten? Fun times playing video games with your friends. The idea that you can't make "life memories" playing video games is silliness spoken by a teen who has practically no life experience. I've been regularly playing a MMORPG for the past four years, and have made some great friendships and had some great laughs with the people in my guild. We've got a high-school math teacher, a military vet who's now a devoted father to two ballet-dancing little girls, an economics professor, an actor-turned-web designer, a dental technician, and on and on. We play video games together and voice-chat multiple times a week. We good-naturedly rib each other and make jokes and tell stories and have just as much fun as we would if we were meeting up face-to-face and playing board games. 

Open up your minds a little. The idea that only dumb socially awkward neckbeards in their parents' basements play video games is an outdated stereotype that needs to stop. And for the record, I'm not an "average teenage guy or twentysomething guy," either. I'm a thirty-something woman. All sorts of different people play video games and have a blast doing it. 
B Evans More than 1 year ago
The snow sculptures won't last, but the memories made while forming them will - very much like the memories made during video games you mentioned. If the impermanence of snow makes real life snow sculptures worthless, how much more worthless is the impermanent virtual reality of video games?