August 12, 2022
Enlarge / This is what can happen if you don’t secure your wrist strap before playing Nintendo Switch Sports.

When you’ve covered the game industry for as long as I have, you tend to see the same types of stories appearing over and over. Still, new reports that Nintendo Switch Sports players are breaking their TVs with accidentally thrown Joy-Cons are a bit too reminiscent of similar stories during Wii Sports‘ heyday in the mid-2000s.

So far, these new reports of virtual sports-related accidents are limited but dramatic. Twitch-streamer 63man started things off by breaking his monitor live on stream during a particularly energetic tennis swing Saturday. “HAS HE MENTIONED HE DOESNT HAVE A WRIST STRAP,” one viewer wrote in chat shortly following the incident.

The look on his face is priceless…

The next day, Reddit user Equivalent_Actuary_6 shared an image showing “my first broken TV playing Switch Sports.” In a subsequent comment, that poster said they had lost the wrist straps originally provided with the Joy-Cons but that they were “confident on [sic] my grip” after playing through The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword strapless.

“[You] don’t need to constantly remind me of how stupid I am,” Equivalent_Actuary_6 wrote. “I know this is my fault, but it’s better to make fun of it and help other people [realize] how important it is to always use the fucking straps (don’t be an idiot like me).”

Joy-Cons flying out of hands aren’t the only risk associated with Nintendo Switch Sports, either. Weeks ago, IGN’s preview of the game featured a video of a leg strap that flew off and smacked into a TV during a soccer demo. Luckily, all players and hardware appeared undamaged in that incident.

Nintendo’s Japanese Twitter support account recently warned parents to “please accompany your child when playing Nintendo Switch Sports. Please be careful not to hit the children playing with each other or hit the Joy-Con on the TV.”

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A bit of history repeating

I had just started writing for the now-defunct Joystiq in 2006 when the first reports of flying Wii remotes causing damage to TVs and human bodies started appearing, so I remember the hysteria well. It wasn’t long before similar reports became so widespread that the popular blog Wii Have a Problem found success collecting dozens of examples of what it called “the latest trend in gaming violence.” Video compilations of wayward Wii remotes became popular at the time as well.

Today’s Switch Sports accidents seem to stem from players ignoring Nintendo’s warnings and failing to secure the wrist strap that snaps on to individual Joy-Cons. During the Wii’s launch, though, many players reported that the built-in straps on their launch-era Wii remotes were snapping during vigorous play, even when they were used properly.

A best-of compilation of wayward Wii remotes breaking stuff.

Nintendo quickly started shipping a thicker wrist strap (up from 0.024 inches to 0.04 inches thick) with every Wii remote and offered free replacements to anyone stuck with the flimsier launch version. In 2007, the company followed that up by providing bulky “jackets” that slid around the remote and cushioned any impact if the device slipped from a player’s grasp.

Those moves weren’t enough to prevent legal claims from Wii users who experienced property damage, though. A 2006 class action lawsuit doesn’t appear to have gone anywhere, while another suit in 2008 was decided in Nintendo’s favor in 2010.

More damage to come?

Nintendo still provides a sturdy wrist strap with every Switch Joy-Con and urges players to “always attach the Joy-Con strap accessories to the Joy-Con when using them as detached wireless controllers.” But the straps for Switch players are provided as a detachable accessory that needs to be removed for the Joy-Cons to slot into the Switch itself.

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That’s a major difference from the Wii, where every remote had a built-in strap that was attached by default and designed to remain in place during everyday play. So Switch players who have misplaced their strap attachments (or are too lazy to attach them) seem more likely than ever to disregard Nintendo’s safety recommendations when playing Nintendo Switch Sports.

Given all that, I bet we haven’t seen the last incident of accidental property damage caused by Nintendo Switch Sports play. After all, those who don’t learn from recent console history seem doomed to repeat it.