I am your best friend. Over the last two decades I slowly climbed up the ladder of affection. First, I easily knocked off dad. He remained too busy working late nights and weekends. Next, I seduced mom into cutting back on family story-time and taking weekly trips to the library.

The babysitter unsuccessfully tried to expose you to the fun of playing hide and seek, red light/green light, freeze tag, double dutch, stick ball, and Frisbee. She soon got the hint that we didn’t need all that extra fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.

My final act of espionage transformed Mr. TV’s alliances from “Sesame Street” and Barney to Xbox and Game Cube. Those educational cartoons could no longer compete with my exciting 3D graphics and non-stop audio assault.

I am your best friend. Who wants to go outside and play? Not us. Wii can let you and I simulate sports in the comfort of the family den. Wii can also simulate you and I car-jacking an unsuspecting tourist. With Wii the two of us can go to war with a rapid fire combo grenade launcher and flame thrower. There’s no coming back when I attack (unless you hit the reset button).

On my game days, the weather forecast is perfect. No need to arrange a play date. Over my built-in wireless Internet router I can sync up with a team of other lonely, anonymous kids from around the world. I am much easier to take care of than Fido and Whiskers. I don’t need to be walked around the dog park every day when you come home from school. Power up the Playstation on the 42-inch LCD high definition TV. Turn up the volume on the surround sound. Who loves ya baby!

I am your best friend. Your parents once threatened to shut me down and take me away. Wow – I never knew you were capable of producing such a super tantrum. You fought, cried, and officially declared them the worst parents in the entire neighborhood. You countered with a threat of your own to run away and never come back. You promised to improve your four D’s (into four C’s) on your next report card. You committed to doing your chores without prompting or complaining. You swore to eat your vegetables and not harass or tease your little sister. Mom and dad felt so guilty, they went out and bought you a newer, faster, more expense version of me. After all, how would you look if your friends realized that you still were playing last year’s console? When faced with discipline, attack with tears and whining.

But look out. Your overly concerned aunt just e-mailed another news item to your parents. It claims that playing with me will deteriorate your social skills, wreak havoc on your physical health, and desensitize your conscious to graphic violence. Propaganda succumbs to more propaganda. Show her the article from the gamer magazine. The one where a pair of doctor’s working for my manufacturer conclusively agree that I improve hand-eye coordinate, sharpen decision making skills and prepare all youth for the critical jobs of the upcoming millennium.

If you haven’t already purchased me, stand in line at the next Wal-Mart holiday sale at 5 a.m., but be prepared to fight off a few other consumers. I remain in limited supply. I am priceless. I am a child’s best friend.

Sincerely Yours, Mr. Video G. Ames