"Health and wellness" guru Michael Torchia has threatened a lawsuit against Nintendo over the company's promotion of the Wii Fit as "a replacement for sensible exercise and sports activities."
Torchia wants Wii Fit sales halted until Nintendo makes "important changes" to the device, including issuing warnings that they're meant for entertainment purposes only and not as a replacement for actual physical activity. Furthermore, Torchia said a slick "brainwashing" campaign by Nintendo to convince people that their games are safe and will help them become physically fit has resulted in people around the world sustaining serious injuries to their knees, back and wrists through misuse and overuse of the device.
"Nintendo is contributing to the epidemic of obesity," Torchia declared in a press release posted on Newsblaze. "Young and old are putting away their gym clothes and shying away from going outdoors to play sports, because [of] the addictive appeal to the Wii game products. Just as the tobacco companies created such a false image of their products and hid the potential dangers, so is Nintendo."
Torchia claimed that as many as ten people per week are hospitalized due to injuries resulting from playing Wii games. "Not only are people getting injured due to a lack of instruction, they are also developing improper stroke patterns from long term use of the sports games which can potentially effect their ability to excel in those specific activities later in life," he added.
His website says Torchia is a "renowned health and wellness expert, and a highly regarded motivational speaker and author." He has worked with celebrities including Matt Damon, Kevin Spacey and Al Pacino but says "his true passion is helping everyday people." Kotaku has described him as "slightly nutty."
Torchia is on the money when he says that Nintendo may have "oversold" the fitness value of the Wii Fit, a point conceded by designer Shigeru Miyamoto who said as far back as a year ago that it isn't designed to actually make people fit. But it's a bit trickier determining when legitimate concern for people's well-being ends and vested interest in keeping them going to gyms and buying nutritional supplements begins. It would also be nice to think that at some point we could collectively say, "We don't need a warning label, thanks. We can figure this out on our own."
Torchia has retained a "prominent law firm in Beverly Hills" to prepare his class action suit, and is encouraging people to report incidents of Wii injuries to the Operation Fitness website.
UPDATE: As pointed out by people with better reading skills than mine, Torchia has not yet launched an action against Nintendo; at this point, he is merely "preparing" one with the help of an unnamed law firm. The article has been edited to reflect this fact; we'll keep our eyes open for further updates.