[games_access] epilepsy and gaming

Tess Snider malkyne at gmail.com
Tue Jun 5 19:12:47 EDT 2007

On 6/5/07, Eelke Folmer <eelke.folmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> I wonder what kind of guidelines game developers have to follow to

> prevent people getting epileptic seizures? 50 million people worldwide

> suffer from epilepsy. Maybe game developers can offer an epilepsy safe

> mode which disables stroboscopic light effects in their games. (though

> only 5% of the people with epilepsy are affected by strobe lights,

> according to wikipedia)

Traditional light-gun games use an old technique which requires
strobing the screen rapidly, for them to work at all. These are
potentially highly unsafe for strobe-sensitive players, and can't
really be made safe. However, I expect that the Wii -- and some other
recent hardware developments -- will probably render this entire
method obsolete, eventually.

Many games have epilepsy warnings, just to be on the safe side
(especially after the Pokemon debacle in Japan). If frame rates are
running smoothly enough, modern games should only be dangerous if
there's a deliberate strobing effect (say, lightning, for example),
but it can be hard to predict how the game might respond to every
possible thing a player might do with it (say, casting a bright spell
over and over really fast, or banging up against a collision volume
repeatedly), so it's safer, from a legal perspective, to put the
warning on everything.

A sufficiently jerky, unresponsive, low-framerate, or otherwise
non-smooth game experience can make even a non-epileptic get pretty
darn sick. (We used to call this "VR Sickness" when I worked in
telerobotics.) I, myself, have been known to feel ill from low
ceilings, undulating cameras, and bad collision jitter. Back in the
days before camera-bob became optional, Doom was practically
synonymous with *BLOORCH* for some people.

I'm feeling green just thinking about it!


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