Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, Derek Jeter - they're athletic superstars, the envy of millions. The Nintendo Wii system gives you just a tiny taste of what it's like to be them. But as ABC2 News Investigator Joce Sterman found out, it also shows you there's a big difference between playing the game on the field and in your living room.
The grace, the skill. There's a reason the professionals are getting paid to play. It's simply not as easy as it looks. And as we've found, there's a big difference between reality and wii-ality. Anthony Williams knows that all too well. He's on the disabled list, off the roster after hurting his shoulder while pitching the biggest game of his life.
He says he was, "Throwing the ball 90 mph, trying to get it up to 100 miles per hour." The only problem is the curveballs that landed him in physical therapy weren't covered in cowhide. Instead, they came from a plastic coated remote.
You see, Anthony is only a major leaguer in his mind. He's really an MTA bus driver, out of work for more than a month thanks to countless hours with the Wii. He says, "As time went on it was waking me up at night, the soreness. That's when I went to see my doctor."
And that doctor was orthopaedic surgeon, Dr.David Buchalter. He diagnosed Anthony with severe tendonitis. Williams was the first patient Buchalter has seen with Wii pain. He says, "It takes you aback initially when you hear about someone playing a video game in front of their TV and having a sports injury.
It's really a new version of sports injury." It's the kind of injury the doctor is used to seeing in pro athletes, not 30 and 40 somethings who are playing along at home. And that's potentially who could get hurt; the former couch potatoes who take up the Wii, get hooked and wind up overdoing it. Dr.Buchalter says, "I think it's important to realize this is a different type of game. This is one that's going to involve strenuous activity."
So, how could this activity potentially get out of hand?? Players tell us they just get carried away. There's just something about seeing a copy of yourself on the big screen that makes it seem real. All of sudden, you're playing like it's for real...and later feeling the pain. Kyri Jacobs says, "It was really in the middle of the night when I rolled over and went 'Oh My Gosh'.
I pulled muscles where I didn't know I had muscles." She learned the hard way how to play this game. It took watching her kids to figure out that with the Wii, less is definitely more. Jacobs says, "According to my son, I was moving way too much. I thought you literally had to assume the bowling position with the ball up in the air and actually walk down the lane and lunge and throw."
No, it's just a flick of the wrist that makes all the difference. And it's that small motion that could cause big problems if people aren't careful. As 8-year-old Elizabeth Jacobs explained, "If you don't remember to put the wrist band on, it could like, fly into your TV." That sort of scenario has become legendary on sites like www.youtube.com.
We saw busted big screens, black-eyes and blood shed, the price many are paying for their love of the game. Gamecrazy store manager Quincy Hubbard says, "Unfortunately, Nintendo didn't expect people to put every single ounce of energy they had into that forward swing. So they didn't make this (cord) really durable."
Nintendo tells us they're committed to ensuring not only a fun game but also a safe one. They emphasize that there have only been a few minor incidents during overly enthusiastic play. To better protect players, the company has since strengthened the cord on the Wii-mote, added a protective spongy cover and made it so the game won't start until you've taken safety precautions.
Newer systems also include messages warning you to take a break every now and then. It's those reminders that Anthony Williams ignored and now his career in the big leagues has been cut short. But he says, "So, I'm not getting the big time pay but I'm getting the publicity." Publicity he'll take for showing the world what he's "wii-lly" made of.
Statement from Nintendo
Ms. Anka Dolecki, Nintendo of America's director of public relations:
Nintendo is committed to ensuring not only a fun game play experience on the Wii, but a safe one as well. Nintendo has gone to great lengths to inform consumers about the innovative and unique game-play experience on the Wii. As consumers adapt to this new style of play, there have been a few reports of minor incidents during overly enthusiastic game play. Nintendo is being very responsive and created the Wii Remote Jacket to provide additional protection. The Wii Remote Jacket is included with all Wii Remotes.
The Jacket is a durable, silicone cover for the Wii Remote that provides additional protection if the Wii Remote is accidentally thrown or dropped during game play. The Wii Remote is perfectly safe when used as instructed: use a firm grip, don't let go, use the wrist strap and make sure the game-play area has ample open space.
As when beginning any new physical activity, it's best to pace yourself and not overdo it. Some games, including Wii Sports, include in-game reminders for players to take a break every now and then.