BBC airing controversial Nintendo documentary

The <i>Outrageous Fortunes</i> series looks at the dark side of the empire that Mario built.


The BBC recently unveiled three documentaries on some of the world's best-known brands--Disney, Bacardi, and Nintendo. The trio are part of the Outrageous Fortunes series, which investigates the personalities behind the three companies and the massive wealth they've accumulated.

The Nintendo documentary, which airs next week on the BBC's Channel Three in the UK, profiles industry legends Shigeru Miyamoto and Hiroshi Yamauchi. Specifically, it focuses on how Miyamoto created Nintendo's most successful games, including The Legend of Zelda and the Mario Bros. franchises, and how Nintendo President Yamauchi personally profited more than $1.4 billion from their sales.

Though it is hosted by two respected investigative reporters, Outrageous Fortunes openly courts controversy. The synopsis of the Nintendo episode boasts that correspondents went "against Nintendo’s wishes" and interviewed Mr. Yamauchi’s son-in-law Minoru Arakawa, who presided over Nintendo of America during the NES' 1980s and 1990s heyday. The subject of the interview was "Why [Arakawa] forfeited his entitlement to game royalties and what the future holds for the once-mighty Nintendo."

The documentary also levels more-serious accusations against Nintendo--namely, that company executives knew that some of its games caused seizures in children, published them anyway, and then lied about doing so in court. A large portion of the documentary is devoted to the seizure angle, as both a company whistle-blower and former NOA Chairman Howard Lincoln are interviewed about "how safe" Nintendo games are.

Unfortunately, only British gamers will get a chance to see if the program's charges are mere hype or have actual merit. Though its controversial nature would undoubtedly get high ratings in the US, there are no current plans to air the Outrageous Fortunes episode on BBC America.

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