Games and the Consequences We Never Predicted

Posted on: 10/30/09 11:45 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Do you remember “Hold your wee for a Wii?”

In January of 2007, a Sacramento radio station had a contest where several contestants drank as much water as they could without going to the bathroom. The winner would get a brand new Wii- back when the availability of those consoles were rare. I’m sure the radio station never predicted that one of the participants, a 28-year-old mother of three, would die of water intoxication later that day.

I wrote an article about the incident back then, asking youth workers, “Can games get out of hand? Can creativity trump safety?” (I cited a long history of feedback we’ve received on our website including an article that World Magazine wrote about us) I encouraged youth workers to think about games and their unforeseen consequences. The mentality of “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission” seems a little shortsighted when safety is involved.

The Sacramento Bee ran a front page article today– the first I’ve seen on the subject since January of 2007. A Sacramento jury just awared the woman’s family 16.6 million dollars for her death. Here’s a snippet of the article:

A Sacramento jury set an eye-popping standard Thursday on the cost of radio station contests that kill and the resulting loss of a mother’s love and a wife’s companionship.

The tab for Entercom Sacramento LLC came to $16,577,118 in the water-intoxication death of Jennifer Lea Strange in a contest put on by radio station KDND “The End” (107.9 FM).

Such was the award rendered by a Sacramento Superior Court jury of seven men and five women in the trial to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Strange’s survivors. The 28-year-old woman died Jan. 12, 2007, after she participated in KDND’s “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest.

Something to think about.