Fact check: Story of boy, cardboard Nintendo console is unproven
The claim: Nintendo sued a young boy and his family for $200 million for creating a cardboard Nintendo Gameboy
As families have been stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Nintendo Switch became one of the most popular tech products of 2020.
A viral Facebook meme claims a 9-year-old boy named Paco Gutierrez always wanted a Nintendo but couldn't afford one, so his created his own cardboard "console" and was faced with a lawsuit.
"Using his creativity and with the help from his uncle, he made a cardboard Super Mario game, posted it on YouTube and the video went viral," reads a Jan. 25 Facebook post from the page Dank Meme. "Thanks to the video, Nintendo's CEO Doug Bowser personally traveled to Venezuela to give Paco a Cease and Desist order and sue his family for 200 million dollars."
Above the text is a photo purportedly of the 9-year-old boy and an image of a cardboard version of the Nintendo game. The post has over 800 shares and 2,500 reactions.
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook page for comment.
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Cardboard game may be real
The cardboard console seen in the meme may have been created by a boy in Venezuela named Ruben, not Paco.
Ruben posted a video of his creation to social media in 2018. He created the console with whatever he could find in his house, according the Mirror in an August 2018 story.
However, HoaxEye notes on Twitter on Jan. 24 that there is not much evidence that a boy named Ruben actually created the game. The earliest version of the video appears in a July 26, 2018, Instagram post by a rapper named Big Trueno.
Trueno wrote in the caption that the game "was made by a Venezuelan child who congregates in the same church as me, his name is Rubén." According to HoaxEye, the artist does not live in Venezuela.
USA TODAY reached out to the artist for comment.
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There is no Nintendo lawsuit
The part of the story involving legal action is a fabrication.
There is no evidence of a cease-and-desist order or a $200 million lawsuit, and Nintendo of America confirmed in a Jan. 29 statement to USA TODAY that the lawsuit is not true.
According to Snopes, the meme is making a joke out of Nintendo's history over the years of attacking different fan projects that use their properties. Indie game hosting site Game Jolt once had to pull 562 fan-made games after receiving legal notices from Nintendo, Business Insider reported in 2016.
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Our rating: Missing context
It's true that someone years ago created a cardboard Nintendo game, however, it is unclear that the game was created by a young boy named Paco or Ruben in Venezuela. Nintendo of America has debunked the claim that the company sued a boy for creating the cardboard game. We rate this claim as MISSING CONTEXT because parts of the story are plausible but unproven.
Our fact-check sources:YouTube, Aug. 9, 2018, Kid Fake GameboyMirror, Aug. 8, 2018, "Ingenious youngster creates Game Boy out of cardboard and bottle tops so he can play his home made Super Mario"Big Trueno, July 26, 2018, Instagram postBusiness Insider, Sept. 2, 2016, "Nintendo just shut down hundreds of fan-made games"Snopes, Jan. 25, "Did Nintendo Sue 9-Year-Old Paco Gutierrez for Making Cardboard Console?"Nintendo of America statement to USA TODAY
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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.