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Nick Avgerinos
Nick Avgerinos
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Grown-Up Gaming: More than a “Wii” Personal Injury Liability

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Most parents lament the passage of bygone days where kids played freeze tag and rode bikes till dusk in the summer; nowadays, there’s more inside play, focused around television, video games, and the computer. Sure, you can try to impose time limits on these gadgets, but once they’re out of your house, it’s hard to enforce those rules with his friend Jenny’s Nintendo DS or Justin’s Xbox 360.

And as if you don’t have enough to worry about with flips on your trampoline or dives into your pool, along comes the amazingly interactive Nintendo Wii. Parents seem to like the Wii, not only because of its entertainment factor, but because it gets kids up off the couch. Along with the relatively recent line of ‘Wii Fit’ games, most of the Wii games give the player some exercise because they require actual bodily movement, rather than the good old thumb workout. The problem: more interactivityàmore movementàmore injuries. Not always, but often enough to make a parent worry. If Justin hurts his wrist slicing up sushi while playing “Cooking Mama,” or Jenny slips and falls while doing a kick, playing “Dancing with the Stars,” are their parents coming to you for compensation? And would they have a case?

Well, it depends. Obviously, there’s some merit to those concerns; Nintendo introduced a wrist strap (which you can obtain free of charge) to add to controllers in order to guard against their propensity to go flying, endangering players and televisions everywhere. The company faces product design claims and you could face premises liability issues. The claims that have been brought thus far focus upon the company.

Before you start to breathe easier, though, take a look at Nintendo’s newest line of games from JV sports: Frat Party Games. One game in the series, ‘Beer Pong,’ has already been renamed ‘Pong Toss’ due to public disapproval. Sure, the name has changed, but the game is the same. The rating? It’s suitable for your children aged 13 and older. Maybe Nintendo didn’t see the latest statistics, but underage drinking is a serious problem, and I doubt introducing drinking games to a 13-year-old will do anything to help matters.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board President, Patricia Vance, defends the game’s rating, writing: “Despite being premised on a drinking game, the game’s content involves essentially nothing more than tossing pingpong [sic] balls into plastic cups.” And while it might be true that the game doesn’t explicitly reference alcohol, the origins of the game aren’t exactly a secret. Even kids who don’t yet get the reference will be fully apprised with a quick Google search.

It’s a good reminder, though, that we should keep kids aware of the dangers of underage drinking—and drinking in general—because you never know where else they’re getting their information. And sometimes influence comes from the least likely of places. That’s why it’s up to us to be consistent examples of responsibility.