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You get what you pay for

Nintendo just released it's latest game for the Wii gaming system, Wii Fit, which is essentially you working out to instructions from the game and watching your 3D animated self do the moves on your TV.

The little board you stand on can be used as a virtual snow board, a yoga mat, skateboard, jogging track, etc. It's also a digital talking scale of sorts, and it will tell you about yourself, good and bad.

So it was inevitable that someone, somewhere who paid $89.99 for the Wii Fit was going to complain over the game's assessment of their weight and body mass-to-fat ratio.

There will probably be many, but for now the complainants are the parents of a 10-year-old girl in the U.K., who was playing the Wii Fit recently, when it told her she was fat.

The girl was distraught, her parents angry. The girl isn't fat, not even close. Nintendo issued an apology, explaining the weight measurement aspect the game wasn't meant for kids because their bodies are developing and in flux. And a rep for the National Obesity Forum wants children banned from playing the game.

It was nice of Nintendo to apologize to the girl. Kids are impressionable, and little girls these days don't need to be goaded anymore than they already are through commercials into thinking they're fat if they're anything more than scrawny.

Still, am I being calloused or was this all a bit of overreaction? I don't have a 10-year-old, so I don't know how I'd react. But I applaud Nintendo's refusal to put warning labels on the games.

I get the whole body image fiasco we've created through Barbie culture, but do you really need a label warning you that your video game might hurt your feelings? If your kid's self image is damaged by a video game, even one that promotes exercise, then your kid is spending too much time playing that game.

What the hell? Unplug 'em and tell them to go run in circles around your back yard. I guarantee you the grass won't call your kid names.


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I agree with you: "WTH"

The Sarcasticynic

I work with ten year olds daily and let me tell you - they will believe anything they hear from nearly any source and be affected by it. Their self-image can be fragile at that age and it doesn't take a lot to shake them up, yet it sure takes a lot to bring them back to reality. Girls seem specially affected by what is said about them.

Look at the quote from the girl's father: "She was devastated to be called fat and we had to work hard to convince her she isn't." Devastated. Work hard. Looking at her picture, it would seem amazing a little girl could react in such a manner, and would require such an intervention - yet it happens on a daily basis.

I recommend to Nintendo the following solution: In addition to asking for weight and height, ask for an age. Then splash a message that says, "Sorry, but Wii cannot give you further information until you're older. However, Wii encourage you to get plenty of exercise, either through this game or through other means. Wii hope you ask your parents for help in choosing appropriate activities for you, and Wii thank you for your patience as you grow to become a healthy and responsible adult."


I have no kids, so I'm in the same boat as you. I'm surprised there wasn't a law suit.


James, the last thing I need is a machine judging me. Don't need my cell phone telling me I'm dork...

Shouldn't the software be sophisticated enough to solve this problem? When you compose your personal "Wi," it could just ask your age and whether you appreciate being judged.

I don't need my car being all like, "Have you been drinking again?" and getting all judgmental and stuff. Whatever, car.


I have two boys - 9 and 12. Their entire lives seem to revolve around video games and the crap they see on commercials. Real life seems to have eluded them. I need to cut down on their game/TV time.


I'm with Pamela. Children are EXTREMELY impressionable. In addition, the age at which young girls become obsessed with body image seems to be getting younger with each generation. Thank goodness her parents pushed the issue and got an apology out of Nintendo. Otherwise, she may have had to carry around that negative image of herself for years.

James B.

Sarc, while I'm still a bit more cynical than you on this issue, I have to admit, yours seems like the perfect solution.

Monty, I'm curious, who would have guessed would sue, the parents? I wonder if British society is litigious as American society.

M@, ha ha! Your car needs to yank the keys out of your hand and lock you out! But good point: you'd think this was an issue that could be fixed via software. Perhaps every time a Wii Fit is purchased for a kid, the kid's parents could program it, notifying the game that its owner is a child. And so when it came time for weigh in, the machine would automatically bypass the judgmental part.

Jack, I didn't really watch any TV between the ages of like 10 and 15. My folks made me read or play sports, or both. I didn't turn out to be too much of a psycho. Cut back a little. Your kids'll thank you for it when they're grown.

GrizzBabe, I know the negative imagery thrown at kids, especially at girls is terrible, but c'mon. Do you really think this little girl would have suffered for years? She's clearly not fat. She seems bright and confident. Her folks told her the game was stupid and didn't know what it was talking about. Maybe I'm being naive. But I'll bet even without an apology from Nintendo, the girl would've gotten over it in a matter of days.


James, British society isn't as litigious as the US, though sometimes it seems as if we're getting that way.

On the whole we prefer people to exercise common sense. But that's becoming an increasingly rare commodity.

These days parents are so scared something might happen to their children - traffic is heavier than ever, reports of child molesters, bullying, etc - that they tend to not let them outdoors to play.
Either that or they don't bother, & the children grow up in company of their peers, & almost feral!


God bless Aunt Bea. Kids may be impressionable, but if a video game is going to irrevocably damage their pysche and self-esteem, something else is wrong.

This kind of thing is a monster of our own creation. WE -- PARENTS, ETC. -- have made kids into these fragile glass containers who need to be protected from anything and everything. If a video game, for crying out loud, hurts this poor baby's feelings so much, what's she going to do when some kid at school calls her a name? Run home crying to mama and daddy? And are mommy and daddy going to sue the school system, become some kid was mean to her?

Jiminy Cricket. Life hurts sometimes. We take knocks at times. We deal with it and move on.

Seriously, this kind of seagull parenting gets obscene. Even though we all want to protect our kids, we also have to let them experience life with all it's ups and downs. Calling out a video game is ridiculous.

Say It

I have a 10 and 11 year old. I would have laughed and told them thats what they get for playing an adult game, now go outside and play.

We are a Ridiculously embarrassing nation sometimes.

James B.

Sharon, that's too bad. A kid who can't play outdoors is gonna go nuts.

swf42, I was leaning your way. Still am. But the few strands of sensitivity I have forced me to consider the little girl's feelings. Still, we agree. It's a video game. Its opinion should not matter. It can be unplugged and stomped on and thrown out the window.

James B.

Say It, that's what my folks would've done, especially my dad. After he finished cracking up and wiping away the tears he'd have (figuratively) planted a boot on my behind and told me to go play outside.


James, here's where I'm coming from:

It's not being "sensitive" as much as it's being "over-sensitive."

These parents, and those like them, create sensitivity where there should be none. They manufacture issues, they create these "self esteem" problems.

Like Say It mentioned, if my mom hadn't laughed at the remark, my brothers and sister certainly would have taken the mickey out of me if I'd cried over something like that. And ragged me for days and weeks afterward, too.

I feel like George Carlin ranting, but this kind of over-protectiveness is numbing. Protect your children from real hurts, not from some video game spitting out pre-programmed comments.

I have to admit, everytime I read about this kind of parenting, I wonder what kind of adults they're raising.

James B.

swf42, I feel ya. You want kids to grow up prepared to face life, and coddling them over insulting video games is not the way to prepare 'em.


I'm morbidly obese. I know it's a health problem that I should not be putting off dealing with, but still I do. I did not become obese until I was in my late 20's early 30's. I was active in sports in school and into my early 20's.

The reason I became obese is because my lifestyle changed and my eating habits changed too. I became more involved with hanging out with my girlfriend (now wife of 13 years) and less time playing sports with my friends. My income grew as did my joy of good fattening food.

I would love to use the Wii fit. I'm scared of using it because I'm on the very edge of the 350lb weight limit for the controller pad and I'd hate to shell out the money for it and break it first day.

Anyway as a fat guy, here's my take on the issue.

Nintendo owes no one an apology.

The truth, although it may hurt should never be punished. I have no problem with a machine telling me the truth. I wouldn't get mad at tape measure for telling me that I'm 5'8".

What bothers me is people who treat fat people like me as if there is something wrong with us or that we should be reviled or belittled.

I'm a good person, I treat everyone I meet with respect and courtesy. I deserve the same. It is no business of anyone else what or how much I eat. I pay my health insurance so if I keel over with a stroke it won't be your tax money paying for my hospital bills. I do not need protection. I do not need trans fat bans.

If you mention in conversation, "my, aren't you a big one?", or "wow you'd make a good sumo wrestler!", don't be surprised when you get an equally rude, "my aren't you an asshole?" or, "wow, wouldn't you make a good village idiot?"

So, in closing, the the girl's parents are over reacting, but they're faced every day with assholes out there that think it's ok to belittle fat people so I'm willing to cut them a little slack.

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