This Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus season, electronics retailers are reveling in the Battle of the Gaming Consoles as Sony introduces its new PlayStation 3 and Nintendo counters with its more affordably priced Wii.
(Will the government of France insist that the latter can only be marketed there if it is renamed the Nintendo "Ouii"? But I digress.)
Thanks to my son Brent -- who brought this to my attention over dinner last night and whose 16th birthday tomorrow will not be marked by the arrival of either console in our home [sorry, lad: remember that patience is a virtue] -- Decs&Excs is able to predict the next profitable frontier for product liability litigators: suing over repetitive motion injuries caused by Nintendo's Wii Remote controller, aka the "Wii-mote."
Sporting a variety of internal gyroscopic whatsits, the Wii-mote's motion-sensing skills allow the user to participate in a videogame by means more strenuous than the traditional thumbing of buttons and wiggling of joysticks. Nintendo says:
Sporting the size of a traditional remote control, the wireless Wii Remote is a multifunctional device that is limited only by the game designer's imagination. In a tennis game, it serves as your racket you swing with your arm. In a driving game, it serves as your steering wheel. For first-person shooters, the Wii Remote acts as your weapon that you point at an enemy. The list of potential uses goes on and on.
The idea is that the player ends up swinging and poking and jumping about, rather than simply sitting in one spot. But are former couch jockeys ready to handle the added physical stimulus? The popular gaming site GameSpot, citing the Wall Street Journal, reports:
The newspaper spoke with several new Wii owners who were experiencing aches and pains from repeated use of the console.
(Emphasis added.) The original WSJ story, available to non-subscribers here, offers more:
The new console has been wildly successful, selling out at stores and winning high marks from critics and game buffs. But as players spend more time with the Wii, some are noticing that hours waving the game's controller around can add up to fairly intense exertion -- resulting in aches and pains common in more familiar forms of exercise. They're reporting aching backs, sore shoulders -- even something some have dubbed 'Wii elbow.'
'It's harder than playing basketball,' says Kaitlin Franke, a 12-year-old from Louisville, Ky. She has been camped out in front of her family's TV, fine-tuning her bowling motion and practicing boxing footwork in two of the Wii's games. Almost immediately, she says, her right arm started to feel numb.
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Another hazard: collisions. All those flailing arms can sometimes inadvertently smack into lamps, furniture and even competing players.
Sony has included warnings against these and other perils in the product manual [PDF], but little details like that never need to reach the jury if you pick the right venue and play your cards right. So to our friends of the plaintiff's bar we say: Fire up the word processors! Nintendo's put a shiny new cause of action under your tree!
Ho Ho Ho, and to all a good night.
UPDATE [113006 1045 PST]: The range of Wii-related property damage should also not be overlooked. At least one weblog has been erected devoted entirely to this subject. View the visual evidence and you may soon agree that
FURTHER UPDATE : We predicted it, didn't we? The first Wii-based class action lawsuits are on their way.