ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
Sometimes, the virtual and the real collide - with unintended consequences. Take the Wii. If you're among the unwashed and ungaming, that is spelled W-I-I. It's Nintendo's hot new game console controller. It comes with a device that you strap to your wrist. It's called a Wiimote.
And if you're playing tennis on the Wii, you swing the Wiimote like it's a tennis racket, or if you're playing golf, you swing it like a golf club. For the benefit of our merciless production staff, I hooked a couple of virtual tee shots into the ocean this afternoon on a Wii. But at least my triple bogey remained something entirely virtual. Some gamers have let their enthusiasm and their Wiimotes get the better of them leading to a remarkable offer by Nintendo.
Sam Kennedy is editor-in-chief of 1up.com, it's a gaming Web site. And, Sam Kennedy, first of all, what is the problem with the Wiimote?
SAM KENNEDY: Well, you're absolutely right. It is that - several gamers have gotten quite enthusiastic while playing it. The wrist strap that's supposed to protect the remote from flying out of your hands has actually broken.
SIEGEL: And the Wiimote has landed in the television screen,
KENNEDY: Exactly. That or the wall or perhaps, actually, injuring someone else.
SIEGEL: Now, you should say here that I looked at the game that has the sports on it and there's certainly is ample warning that you're supposed to tie the strap tight to your wrist before you start playing the games.
KENNEDY: Yes. Yes.
SIEGEL: So people see that?
KENNEDY: Yeah, I mean, that's correct. I mean, Nintendo has definitely tried as many precautions to make sure that people play safe. But I don't think foresaw that people would swing quite with that level of enthusiasm or really get into the games as they have.
SIEGEL: So at the height of the Christmas shopping season, Nintendo has made a very unusual kind of recall offer, I guess.
KENNEDY: Yes. Starting now, people can actually get log-on to the Nintendo Web site or call a 1-800 number that they have set up and Nintendo will, free of charge, replace the wrist strap with a more durable version. And then, in a few days, at retail, all the newer versions of the Wii remote that can be purchased will actually have that stronger wrist strap.
SIEGEL: We're talking about millions of wrist straps right now.
KENNEDY: Potentially - potentially. It all depends on how many people actually do make use of this because the one thing about it is that this has been documented on YouTube, and we've seen a lot of funny videos where the wrist strap has flown out of people's hands.
But we don't quite know how large of a recall this will be because this may only affect those that are really, really swinging the Wiimote with a certain intensity.
SIEGEL: Well, apart from that, apart from the odd broken window or broken television screen, what do you make of the Wiimote and the Wii?
KENNEDY: Well, I think the Wii is actually a really, really neat and unique system, and that I've always felt that the controller was kind of the barrier for videogames. It's very often, very intimidating for people with all the buttons. And Nintendo has kind of removed that intimidation factor by making it so easy for people to swing it around and interact to games without having to press buttons. Unfortunately, I guess they didn't really foresee people are getting into the games quite as much as they have.
SIEGEL: Sam Kennedy, the editor-in-chief of 1up.com, a gaming Web site about the offer from Nintendo to replace wrist straps for the Wiimote, the remote controller for the new Wii.
Sam Kennedy, thanks a lot for talking with us.
KENNEDY: Thanks for having me.
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