Is A Console Maker Liable To Gamers Who Strain Themselves Through Overplay?

Video Game Law Blog

December 01, 2006

Just two weeks after the release of the Nintendo Wii, the Wall Street journal has reported cases of numb arms, sore shoulders and 'Wii-elbow"? caused by jerky or repetitive motions. It's not just the Wii gamers, of course, that can suffer from overplay – Dr. Daniel Latch, a gamer and a chiropractor, says that gamers on all consoles overwork their thumb tendons and neck muscles. Similarly, Dr. Chester Quan, an optometrist, is seeing a growing trend in nearsightedness and, in teens, a need for more frequent changes in prescription which he says is likely attributable to an increased exposure to computer screens and video games.

So, could these type of overplay-related injuries lead to a product liability suit against a console maker? It would appear at least theoretically possible. What about product warnings, though? Will warnings in the console manual about the dangers of repetitive motion be sufficient to shield a console maker from this kind of product liability claim? We note, for example, that such warnings also appear on both the Wii and Xbox360 web pages though, until a product liability claim based on repetitive injuries is litigated, it's not clear how much protection the warnings will ultimately offer.

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