Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Make My Day

by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
Syracuse, Indiana

SYRACU.S.E, Ind. -- You've heard the stories where some poor schlub plays Dungeons & Dragons for weeks on end, then freaks outand imagines himself to be in a D&D adventure before he's finally committed to a mental institution. But death by Nintendo? Yup. Nobody sued the publisher of the D&D manuals - don't ask me how I know that. I just do, okay?! - because their kid didn't have a firm grip on reality. Nobody sued the friends of the whacko for criminal negligence just because their game-playing somehow caused his mental breakdown.

But a Louisiana woman is suing Nintendo of America after her grown son died from a seizure, According to a story in the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate.

Esther Walker of Livingston Parish is suing Nintendo, claiming that her son Benjamin Walker, 30, suffered a fatal seizure because he used his Nintendo 64 game system eight hours a day, six days a week from the time he bought it. Walker got his Nintendo 64 in May 1999, and bought 10 more games afterwards, she said.

According to her lawsuit, "Benji" Walker had six seizures as a result of the game. The sixth one happened on Jan. 22, 2001. According to the lawsuit, "... Benjamin passed out, fell forward and hit his head and mouth on a table, which caused a severe closed head injury, loss of teeth, and moderate bleeding," and died in the hospital four days later.

The lawsuit says that Walker had his first seizure inSeptember 1999, and five mores over the next 17 months while playing the games. Esther Walker claims that Nintendo produced a defective product but failed to warn us about the health risks.

What should they have said? "Warning: If you suffer a seizure after playing our game for 48 hours per week, maybe you should cut back a little bit, and, oh, I don't know, take a walk outside or something? Imean, come on, you're playing the game longer than a regular full-timejob!""Warning: Tables are hard. Do not hit your head on them!"

The company has denied any wrongdoing. And why shouldn't they? They're not like the tobacco companies who purposely made cigarettes addictive and then lied to the world about it for 60 years. Nintendo makes games for people to play. What is there towarn about? "Warning: There is a tenuous, unproven link betweencertain electronic video images and seizures. So don't play this game.Don't even buy it. Sure, we may go out of business, but that's okay.Don't worry about us. We'll manage somehow. We can stay withfriends."

I'm sorry for her loss, but I can't believe Esther Walker is surprised by all of this. Let's look at her statements: Benji played his Nintendo 64 for eight hours a day, six days a week, for 17 months! Of course the guy had seizures! Anybody who does something that much is bound to have some sort of problem, whether it's morbid obesity from lack of exercise, an exploded bladder, or severely-impaired social skills. If you sit in front of a tv for 48 hours per week, something will go wrong.

I can't even work for eight hours a day, let alone all in a row.I usually spend two or three hours a day playing computer games orcruising the Net for pictures of Pamela Anderson (Note: if my boss isreading this, that last sentence is completely untrue. I only put it inthere for comedic effect. I actually work 40 hours a week, non-stop.Did I say 40? I meant 60. )

But what's worse is that Benji kept on playing Nintendo even after he suffered his first seizure four months after he bought the game. And as his eight-hour-a-day, six-days-a-week playing schedule continued, he racked up another four seizures. He was playing when the fifth one happened, and that one did him in.

Doesn't it make sense that if his parents thought there was a connection between the seizures and the game-playing, they might have stopped him from playing?

One would expect him or them to think, "He seems to black out when he plays. Maybe he should quit." But apparently this never occurred to anyone, or if it did, they chose to ignore it.

And here's the added bonus: Esther Walker is suing for unspecified damages for medical and funeral expenses, mental and emotional anguish, and the lost future earnings of her son. Medical and funeral expenses, I can understand. Mental and emotional anguish, no problem. But the "lost future earnings" of her 48-hour-a-week game-playing son? What kind of future earnings did he expect? Grown men who spend that much time playing games don't have great career possibilities, let alone huge earning potential.

And when you factor in the distinct possibility, although this is just a guess on my part, that Benjamin Walker did not have his own place (he lived in his mom's basement), the "future earnings" potential is pretty much in the toilet, unless someone finally starts paying video-game geeks six-figure salaries for blasting bad guys and picking up magic coins.

So should we feel bad for Esther Walker? Absolutely. Should we learn something about playing video games in moderation. You betcha. Is she entitled to untold millions of dollars because her son didn't quit playing the games that caused his first five seizures? Certainly not.

If anyone should get any benefit out of this, it should be the new XBox game system and their latest advertising slogan: "Now, 64% Seizure-Free."

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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