Nintendo To Address Effects Of Video Game On Children

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with the U.S. subsidiary of an international electronic entertainment company to protect children from hand injuries sustained while playing a popular video game.

Nintendo of America, Inc. has agreed to provide protective gloves to all consumers throughout the nation who own the "Mario Party" video game. Nintendo had received numerous complaints that children unexpectedly sustained hand wounds while playing certain segments of this video game. The hand injuries included burns, lacerations, punctures, cuts, bleeding, and tearing and blistering of skin.

"This settlement is good news for parents throughout the nation," Spitzer said. "Nintendo has agreed to take responsibility for the effect of its games on young people.

"I am very pleased that my office was able to work with Nintendo to ensure that this vital piece of protective gear is readily available to our children," Spitzer said.

Mario Party is a popular video game marketed to children between the ages of 7 - 13 and played on the Nintendo 64 home game system, which consists of a game deck and a hand-held controller with a plastic control stick with grooves etched into a circular tip. This video game features numerous mini-games, five of which present a risk of hand injuries. In those game segments, children are encouraged to use all their might to rapidly rotate the joystick to succeed at various virtual tasks. Consumers consistently have reported that they needed to use the palms of their hands to rotate the joystick with sufficient speed to succeed at those game segments, resulting in injury.

The mini-games associated with the injuries include: Paddle Battle, Tug O'War, Pedal Power, Cast Aways, and Deep Sea Divers, along with a practice game feature, Mecha Fly Guy.

As of December, 1999, approximately 1.15 million Mario Party games had been distributed throughout the United States.

In settling this case, Nintendo will provide up to four protective gloves to each household of consumers who own the video game, representing a commitment by Nintendo of up to $80 million. Nintendo also has agreed to pay $75,000 to the Attorney General's office to cover the costs of the investigation.

Consumers with questions about the settlement should contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or visit his web site at www.ag.ny.gov. Out-of-state consumers should call (212) 416-8345. In order to obtain a protective glove, consumers should contact Nintendo at (800) 521-0900.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Joy Feigenbaum of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.

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