Nintendo settles injury case resulting from use of joystick

March 10, 2000|By ALBANY TIMES UNION

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Nintendo boasts that its video game controller will "take a licking and keep on ticking," but the hands of the children using it have been left blistered and bleeding, according to the New York attorney general.

In a case surrounding "Mario Party," Nintendo of America Inc. agreed to ship protective gloves to any of the estimated 1.15 million households in the United States that bought the game, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said in announcing an out-of-court settlement with the manufacturer.

With the company offering as many as four pairs of the gloves to each buyer and the gloves retailing for about $20, the settlement could cost Nintendo upward of $80 million.

Christine Pritchard, a spokeswoman for Spitzer, said the company had received about 100 complaints on injuries from the game.

To play Mario Party, which is targeted at children ages 7 to 13, some children press their palm onto the controller's joystick, which has grooves etched into a circular tip. The friction and pressure on the grooves have caused burns, cuts, punctures, blistering and tearing of the skin, according to the attorney general.

Nintendo did not return a call for comment, but on its Web site it is now posting a warning, "To avoid irritation to your skin and/or damage to the Control Stick, do not rotate it with the palm of your hand. Rotate the Control Stick with your thumb or by holding it between your thumb and forefinger."

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