It seems like barely a week goes by without a UK tabloid attempt to create mass hysteria about our hobby. This time, it’s The Sun and the Nintendo 3DS.
In a brief article which could be used to teach prospective tabloid scribes how to make a sensationalist story out of barely any substance, The Sun has highlighted some problems for the Nintendo 3DS. Yes, it’s the headaches and dizziness thing again.
The tabloid alleges that there are record returns of the new handheld and that “thousands” have “been left with dizziness and headaches after just 24 hours.” They’ve even got a quote from one of the “thousands” who bought the console, seemingly without any research or testing in one of the many stores who have had demonstration models available. He says it made him ill after playing for three minutes.[drop]That’s all well and good. We’ve also heard reports of people who are less able to cope with the 3D effect (which can be switched off entirely). We’re not sure we’d allege “thousands” without more tangible facts but the ethics put into practice at The Sun are their own business.
What is of more concern is that The Sun also seems to be alleging that GAME and HMV are offering partial refunds on returns. This is, of course, not the case. We assume that GAME and HMV are merely offering to buy back the consoles in order to sell them as pre-owned. This is because there are no grounds to return a product simply because you think it gave you a headache.
While it’s certainly possible that people might experience problems playing with Nintendo’s newest handheld, the product has been passed for sale within the EU. Presumably it has been tested and no ill side-effects have been discovered. The much publicised age rating applied to the device has even been touted as a measure to counteract the 3D effect on younger children (we assumed it was because the on-device game, Face Raiders, features very moderate violence, as the PEGI symbol suggests).
So it would seem that The Sun’s story is actually something more like this: New handheld console launches, with a month of easily accessible demos in store, a whirlwind of publicity (some in this same publication) about the 3D effect and how it might be a problem for some. Man ignores all of that and buys one for his “young son” anyway (under 7? There’s a story in that…). Man plays console for three minutes with his son. Man feels a bit ill. Man assumes it was the three minutes of looking at the screen and demands his money back on a used product. Store says no, but we’ll buy it from you second hand.
Of course, telling the facts of a story doesn’t give scope to insinuate that the problem is much bigger than the evidence suggests, much more dangerous or something your readers should be panicking about. And people who aren’t scared of anything might stop buying tabloids.
Update: MCV has been speaking with GAME, HMV and Nintendo about this. Here’s the quote from a Nintendo UK spokesperson:
The number of calls and emails with queries on Nintendo 3DS is in fact well below the rate experienced during past hardware launches and having spoken with our retail partners there are only a handful of people who have actually gone into stores to request a refund.
So, it seems like The Sun’s article was worked up from very little (or no) substance. Are you surprised?
Source: The Sun Thanks, hazelam