Cyberpunk Adds Epilepsy Warning After Reviewer Warns of Seizures

Published December 11, 2020

The developer of Cyberpunk 2077 is adding warnings to the game, after reviewers and charities complained it caused epileptic seizures.

It thanked one reviewer who said it had triggered “one major seizure” and left them “close” to another several times.

“Regarding a more permanent solution, [the] dev team is currently exploring that and will be implementing it as soon as possible,” it tweeted.

The game is released on Thursday, after months of repeated delays.

What is the problem?

Video games have long been a potential trigger for those who have epileptic seizures and standard warnings have been written in to licence agreements over the years.

Writing an extensive and widely shared safety advisory for GameInformer, Liana Ruppert said she often had seizures and was careful about what she chose to play but Cyberpunk 2077 had been particularly difficult.

Part of the problem is the frequent use of flashing lights and flickering animations – a common trigger for seizures – in the game’s neon-future aesthetic.

“Cyberpunk 2077 is about hedonistic excess,” Ruppert wrote.

“Everything is brighter, louder, and more in your face.

“There are a lot [of triggers] that you need to be aware of.”

Another part of the game reportedly allows players to view memories by having their character don an in-game headset.

This “features a rapid onslaught of white and red blinking LEDs [light-emitting diodes], much like the actual device neurologists use in real life to trigger a seizure when they need to trigger one for diagnosis purposes”, Ruppert wrote.

“This is a pattern of lights designed to trigger an epileptic episode and it very much did that in my own personal playthrough.”

UK charity Epilepsy Action had also objected, saying the features “are unsafe and should have been avoided to make the game more accessible”.

Why does it matter?

Cyberpunk 2077 is the most anticipated game of the year for many players, some of whom may have epilepsy.

It also follows years of steady progress in game accessibility.

The Last of Us Part 2, another of this year’s most anticipated titles, was widely praised for the measures taken to make it enjoyable for gamers who had hearing or visual impairments.

In contrast, gamers who have epilepsy may have difficulty enjoying Cyberpunk 2077 until the developer’s “more permanent solution” arrives.

Created by CD Projekt Red, the widely praised developer of the successful The Witcher series of games, it was announced in 2012 but has been in earnest development for about four years.

Its release-date announcement, at E3 2019 game conference, revealed actor Keanu Reeves would star, before Reeves himself emerged dramatically on to the stage to promote the game.

High expectations have made the game a key reason for many gamers to upgrade to the latest PC hardware.

And initial reviews have been largely positive, with an average score of more than 90%.

But some critics have said the story fails to live up to expectations.

And even positive reviews have highlighted many bugs and glitches in the game.

Original at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55231183