A Wii problem


Gamers celebrate pain much to Nintendo’s relief.

There is a new danger lurking in the living room and it is responsible for everything from deep cuts to broken arms and dislocated knees. The console that requires much more strenuous activity than the average PS3, the Nintendo Wii, is creating quite a stir. Tales of strained wrists and broken windows continue to pervade the Internet, all due to using the Wii, if a tad over enthusiastically. Things have certainly changed since the days when the only damage a game console could possibly do was to your wallet or your thumb.

Since its launch in 2006, the Wii has become one of the fastest-selling game consoles of all time, "the sales leader of its generation", according to the Financial Times. So great was the demand for the Wii that the UK reportedly was unable to meet every request when it was released. A direct successor of the Nintendo GameCube, the Wii was designed to create a new type of interaction between gamers and their games. Where in the past gamers merely experienced their games sitting stationary in front of their screens, while thumbs moved like lightning to manipulate the controls, now players have to play a more physically demanding role. Using wireless remotes that detect movements, players can now act out the physical actions they perform on screen. Small wonder the Wii is so successful when it combines a mixture of fantasy and virtual reality. Who could resist being able to act out daring swordfights while playing "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" or "shoot" at the screen by pointing and clicking in "The Godfather: The Game"?

It only took a few weeks for players to discover the hazards of using the Wii. Although the console itself is not faulty in design (apart from possibly needing a stronger wrist strap), Nintendo has issued a safety manual on the Internet, warning against repetitive motion injuries and eyestrain and suggesting taking a break every 15 minutes or so.

Ironically, the confined areas and excessive exercise without preparation (like stretching) can lead to injuries that match or are worse than those players would get if they were actually playing the sports they imitated. A common factor in many stories of "Wiinjuries" is that people fail to take their surroundings into account. For an indoor activity, the Wii can be highly destructive. Often, the remote slips from the players' hands and flies into lamps, windows and even televisions. There are countless YouTube videos of people accidentally swinging a backhand into an unfortunate pet/spouse/small child.

Despite the ever-increasing numbers of injuries, rather than complain, players have created a sort of cult around their battle wounds. On websites such as and, people post pictures, videos and written accounts of how they were hurt using the console. The cuts and bruises are a source of pride to many. Looks like Nintendo managed to avoid what could have been a storm of legal problems, and have the gamers themselves to thank for it.

It may come with some cost to personal safety, but at least the Wii has succeeded in getting gamers around the world to finally jump off the couch and start their hearts pumping again. And though not every game on a Wii will necessarily result in an injury, this article was certainly written with a stiff wrist after a "research" game of Wii tennis.


First Published: 
November 2008


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Shan Bertelli is a Singaporean Italian who grew up in Zimbabwe and is currently attending the University of Edinburgh where she is studying English Literature and History of Art. She began traveling the world when she was 16 days old and hasn't stopped loving it.