The manual for the Turret Tower arcade game reads a like an Army recruitment ad: "Who knew saving the world could be this fun?!" it proclaims. "Three different weapons to choose from!" Next to the slogans, a happy geek is firing pretend bullets at the screen.
But what if the game -- which spins players around on a chair while they shoot aircrafts -- could put you in real danger? That's what happened to 12-year-old Jon Anthony Muniz at Gameworks in South Miami, a recent lawsuit claims. The game "trapped and injured" him resulting in "disability and disfigurement,"it claims. Jon is one of at least four kids who have reported injuries from Torret Tower in the past three years.
In March 2008 Jon -- an energetic and lanky Killian Oaks Academy student --stopped for a burger with his mom at the multi-level South Miami restaurant-arcade. Afterward, they walked upstairs to a massive gameroom, which flashes and dings like a casino for kids. Jon eventually entered the Torret tower, a blue plastic structure with a door, and played a few rounds.
From the outside, his mom Annelis Muniz heard the sound of Jon's excited voice echoing from the tower. "I thought he was making so much noise because he was having a good time," she says. But when the door opened she realized, "he was screaming and crying in pain." His leg had been crunched between the spinning chair and a card-swiping box inside, she says. It cracked his right tibia just below the knee. She rushed him to Jackson South Community Hospital, where doctors gave him a candy red cast.
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Shirley Fields, Gameworks general manager who wrote a report on the incident, did not return calls seeking comment. Nor did representatives at the Gameworks corporate office.
Muniz's lawyer Spencer Marc Aronfeld claims the swipe box -- used in place of coins -- should have been attached to the outside of the machine. Instead, they assembled it on the inside to keep kids playing. "It's an example of a corporation putting profits over the safety of people," says Aronfeld.
Gameworks' insurance reports offer a few details about other childrens' bang-ups. They include: A fractured arm in Schaumburg, Illinois; an injured left knee in Laredo, Texas; and a scratched back at the same Gameworks location in Miami-Dade.
Says Attorney Aronfeld: "[The company] needs to be much more careful. The game is still sitting there in South Miami.