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.