British Parliament Calls on Game Publishers to Remove Seizure-inducing Effects

December 6, 2007 -
Conservative MP John Penrose has submitted a motion in Parliament that would require video game publishers to ensure that their products will not trigger photosensitive epileptic seizures among players.

As reported by the Times Online, Penrose's action was prompted by the case of a 10-year-old boy who experienced a seizure while playing Ubisoft's Rayman: Raving Rabbids on his Nintendo Wii system earlier this year. Of his proposal, MP Penrose commented:
We don’t allow toy-makers to sell products that could poison or injure our children. This shouldn’t be any different. We need government action, now, to change the law so no more young lives are affected by seizures triggered by electronic video games.

Dozens of MP's signed onto Penrose's motion and Ubisoft has agreed to screen future games for seizure-triggering graphic effects. Said Gaye Herford, the mother of the 10-year-old:
Parents should know that every time they buy their child a game, there is the potential for an epileptic fit unless we make safety-testing law...

As I held him he was rigid. His look was blank. I could see the side of his face and his left hand twitching and he told me, ‘Mummy, stop these lights and flashes please’.

Latent photosensitive epilepsy most commonly occurs in those 7-19 years of age and is triggered by flashing light patterns and intense shades of red.

Ubisoft exec Rob Cooper said that the publisher is not fighting the issue:
Our immediate response to Gaye Herford was to not just take note but to take up her case. Testing of the original Rayman Raving Rabbids Nintendo DS game showed that no images posed a high risk for photosensitivity epilepsy.

However, we took the view that different people can react in different ways and made a decision to prescreen and pretest all Ubisoft in-house developed games regardless of platform, prior to publication.

Comments

You know what's funny about this? There was a warning right when you turn on the Wii about the possibility of flashing lights and crap. Just another excuse to hide bad parenting if you ask me.

That what i was thinking too, consoles are littered with epilepsy warnings nowadays :/

Firstly A)Don't all games offer atleast 1 bit of warning (every mannual I've read has it on it's front page) and B) What about TV shows? Arn't they more dangerous in inducing fits?

Taken from the wiki article above:
TV Section
"Television has traditionally been the most common source of seizures in PSE"

Games article
"While computer displays in general present very little risk of producing seizures in PSE patients (much less risk than that presented by television sets)......"

so wouldn't it be smart to help reduce cases from the most common source, then go for the rarer cases.

This dosen't need to be regulated. The game companies should already be trying to steer away from these sort of effects, as it's a lawsuit waiting to happen, regardless of warnings on the box. Pokemon banned the episode that caused seizures because they knew they would get sued. (In fact, I think they did.)

I just opened the manual to GTA for the PS1, and guess what I found? A warning that says a small percentage of people may experience epileptic seizures when exposed to certain light patterns or flashing lights. I guess that warning isn't enough for some people.

What will the criteria be for what causes an epileptic seizure. Will they randomly test people and see if anyone has a seizure while the game is going? If so, isn't that causing unnecessary harm? What percentage of people have to have a seizure to the game before its considered dangerous? Just one out of a million or a larger percentage? Questions like this need to be answered, because it can quickly go into the realm that every game is too dangerous because of epileptic seizures.

Um... isn't this a problem for ANY video situation? TV shows and movies aren't required to "protect the children" from being visually affected? Is there someone evaluating EVERY TV show and EVERY movie to make certain of this or is he just another (mis)user of families and communities to push his agenda?

After all, Ken points out that there are warning notices already displayed.

Does that Parent just blindly let their child watch anything and everything then just blame the maker of the product when they've ignored the warnings?

Politician: "Gun makers should adapt guns so they don't fire bullets because warnings were not appropriately displayed when little Goomba stuck their finger in the barrel and pulled the trigger. 'Mummy, make the stinging feeling in my middle finger stop!' Mummy didn't know things could come out at high speed and injure her little Goomba. Manufacturers need to fix that problem NOW!"

No, I'm not making fun of the kid in the story. I'm making fun of the politician and the Mum who apparently didn't know that the flashing lights could just as easily happen in a video game as it could in watching a TV show or Movie on the TV. :/

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

I will take MPs like this seriously when they are also willing to ban all the OTHER things that can hurt a small percentage of children.

Let's start with, say, peanuts. Since some children are deathly allergic to these evil little nuts, no one anywhere should be allowed to have them or use them in baking. I mean, someone might make a cookie of doom!

Does this mean we should start banning food from schools because it could potentially make kids fat? Or swings from schoolyards because some kid could do that "see how far you can jump from it" game and break their leg? Make sports bad because some kid could potentially become injured?

Mark my words- political correctness and frivolous lawsuits will be the death of our world. When you can't even crack a joke without some dude getting offended, you know people are getting far too anal.

@ Scottland89

Very true, they should be going after the TV more, but the thing about that is that they have the POWER. They can put out any crap they want, as long as they bleep or blur a few choice items, and it dont matter what people think, since theyll just change the channel and find something else. The TV has much, much more power than video games, a media form that constantly stops or rewrites production the moment signs of AO appear. Also, people dont just "change the channel" with video games and ignore whats going on in that other game, like they can with TV, so they decide to take action in a case that doesnt happen often, since its harder to ignore something that's so weak to outside pressure. Worst part is that this is going to set precedent. Although im for checking to make sure games are safe for usage, isnt it kinda odd that a kid with PES was playing a game that is clearly gonna be doing stuff with flashing lights and strobes considering "Raving", a word referring to raves that generally are crazy s***, is in the freakin title? So, i guess its a lil' bit the parents and producers fault, but just because you make a gun, are you responsible for its usage in murder? (I like that metaphor)

Antoher ridiculous stance.
Every console and game in this country has a warning on the manual and the box that clearly states photo sensitivity. TVs can have this effect in general, its not just games.

Thinkofthechildren!

Kajex,
"Does this mean we should start banning food from schools because it could potentially make kids fat? Or swings from schoolyards because some kid could do that “see how far you can jump from it” game and break their leg? Make sports bad because some kid could potentially become injured?"

You're not from the US, are you? :)

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

I don't know what to be more shocked at. The fact that no-one from the industry has stood up and said that we've had epilepsy warnings in game manuals already, or the fact that so many MP's are backing this!

[...] British Parliament Calls on Game Publishers to Remove Seizure …By GamePoliticsHowever, we took the view that different people can react in different ways and made a decision to prescreen and pretest all Ubisoft in-house developed games regardless of platform, prior to publication.GamePolitics.com - http://gamepolitics.com [...]

omg. Check the first page of any game manual. I can remember seeing those type of warnings for years.

However, we took the view that different people can react in different ways

Which is why this is pointless. Because no matter how many "cues" you remove, there will always be a segment of the population who is affected by *something* on screen.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Someone needs to test the water at the parliment building.

People are stupid. This gets proven everyday when crap like this pops up.

Tomorrow's headline: "Household cleaners are fatal if swallowed. Despite warning on bottles, stupid parents demand that all household cleaners be safe to drink, and that they taste like milkshakes."

Wow, another alarmist movement from the UK. What is happening over there, guys? First Gran Turismo was responsible for reckless driving in teenage male demographics, then Manhunt, now this?

You know, if I ever go to parlament and find a single flourescent light bulb in use there, I reserve the right to pulp it and feed it to this jackoff. Games be evil for epilepsy my ass. It's actually safer than your light bulbs. Unless it's Gungrave... then yeah, it's a hazard.

So, I take it these MPs are unaware of A) the warnings that have come with games and consoles since the Nintendo era about seizures, and B) the difficulty of prescreening for such things that lead to the warnings?

I mean it's not like game developers want it to happen, sending your customers into seizures is bad for business.

But I like my Super Seizure Robots.

I might not understand the science, I don't really know anything about how serious this problem is, but by God, I'm getting seen on TV protecting children from video games.

"Isn't it kinda odd that a kid with PES was playing a game that is clearly gonna be doing stuff with flashing lights and strobes considering “Raving”, a word referring to raves that generally are crazy s***, is in the freakin title?"

That's the part that absolutely floors me. The kids playing one of the most dangerous (from a PES standpoint) games and him mom wants to pass the buck to the game makers rather than herself and now she's got politicians backing her.... color me not too terribly sympathetic.

Does the UK have an equivalent of the ECA? Dennis?
If not do they want one, I'm willing to help.

MP John Pemrose's stance on this is nothing short of superstitious. It is based on minimal information and a total lack of understanding the statistics. Okay, here's the deal: if you are prone to photo-sensitive epilepsy, you adjust your life by removing the triggers as much as possible. If you are unaware of the condition, there is absolutely no reason to avoid any sort of possible triggers. You can only be diagnosed epileptic by inducing a seizure to prove it. In those rare cases on undiagnosed epilepsy, it only benefits you to find out, because it's very likely it will be an uncontrolled enivronment when it is first uncovered. Let me see, living room versus night driving? I'll take the living room, please.

Pemrose is trying to scare us for no good reason!

This surprises me not a jot. The public, along with the media and most politicians have the collective memory of a Goldfish.
The last big Epilepsy scare was about 15 years ago. And it was all you heard about for months. Then they put warnings on the manuals of games; those warnings are still being printed to this day.
The problem is that as soon as some mentally deficit, WKD drinking, teenage single mother doesn't bother reading it and then her child has a seizure, she runs to the paper and blames the industry, getting paid some money for her story nodoubt.
money used to fuel her habit for lambert & butler and Sex & the City box sets.
I'm a right cynic me.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I'm not saying the mother or the child caused the seizure, but Ubisoft is not responsible in my book. For two reasons. One, just about anything can trigger an epileptic seizure. Two, there have been warnings printed in game manuals for years. If she wasn't aware of this, it’s her failing.

Has she even asked a doctor about video games and her child's condition? I know I'm asking for a lot there...

Why is this garbage always done for the damn children? To hell with the damn children. I'd agree with the parliment if they voiced this concern for the sake of GAMERS with epileptic seizures. I'm so tired of these moronic, outdated, and conservatively oppresive morons in the UK political system not understanding:

SOME VIDEO GAMES ARE NOT INDTENDED FOR YOUR SNOT FACE CHILDREN. THE MEDIUM HAS NO INTRINSIC AGE DEMOGRAPHIC.

Fountains and showers have been known to induce seizures too. Ban them

You know what? Fuck these people. I'm sorry about the foul language, but they need to just shut the hell up. I have epilepsy, I suffer from seizures, though on the bright side I am a really talented break dancer. He's how you avoid having a seizure when playing video games.

1.) Don't play if you're extremely tired.
2.) Play in a well lit room.
3.) Do not sit too close to the TV.
4.) A smaller TV set is best.

Anyway, I could keep going on. These are just common sense things to do if you want to avoid possibly having a seizure while playing video games. But then again even if they weren't common sense, I'm pretty sure these examples I've written out are in the manual and probably even more to add to that.

By the way, you can have an epileptic seizure while watching TV and using the computer. I know because I've had a few while doing so. Why aren't these dicks telling TV show and such to remove the possibly of causing seizures? Well, honestly, I don't know why. I mean it's impossible to do it for video games because even slight thing could set a seizure off in a person, therefore it is ridiculous and idiotic to ask the gaming industry to "remove" these factor. So I'm surprised they aren't stupid enough to asked programmers of TV shows to do the same.

Hey, people's shoe laces can come undone and cause them to trip and injure themselves. Let ask shoe companies to remove all laces to their shoes while we're at it to.

the warning is on the system and on the back of the game the problem here is with the parenting cause if you let your kids play for that long you are most deffinatly not paying attention to your kids

mummy please read the lables clearly stated on the Wii and on the game container and be a real parent apposed to ‘Mummy, stop these lights and flashes please’

We don’t allow toy-makers to sell products that could poison or injure our children.

No Nerf baseball bats, then?

Yes arowe87 i'm sure the shop would allow parents to open up the games and read the manual, and there is no warnings on the box in all the Wii games i own.

hmm... ya know what? I'm an epileptic. I have seizures. And ya know what? You don't TALK when you're seizing. Matter of a fact, you aren't really even "there" when you seize. This woman is clearly either lying entirely or at least turning it into a sob story for her own profit. Nobody on the face of the earth has ever said anything coherent during seizure, or even formed any actual words. This blatant disrespect for epileptics on the part of this woman is very annoying. If she can't take seizures seriously or at least do some research, I can't respect her.

And really, seizures are only as harmful as the environment you seize in. In and of themselves, they're harmless. Just turn the person on his side and let him take his course. NEVER EVER STICK ANYTHING IN HIS MOUTH!! That's not really much to do with this story, but nobody really knows how to deal with a seizure, so I'm just informing people. The more people know, the more likely somebody having a seizure will suffer minimum damage (a bit tongue at worst when all goes well).

@neoelasticman

I have seizures. And ya know what? You don’t TALK when you’re seizing.

Might have been post seizure. My buddy has frequent and short seizures, most lasting just long enough for you to think he spaced out, and then he's back, with a headache, looking like he'd just seen a ghost. No spasms beyond a twitch, sometimes he'll just sit there for 30 seconds, not moving. Very rarely does he do the stereotypical "spasm and flop about"...

She might have been blurring the event, thinking he was talking during, instead of immediately after...

Freaked out parent who has never seen her child seizure before? I can see her getting confused.

But safety testing is pointless. Photosensitive epileptics can be set off by stuff like venetian blinds, rotating fans, or flashing xmas lights. As others said, better she found out now her kid was epileptic, rather than when he's riding his bike down a busy street or something.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

ACtually, I agree with this... but only as long as they apply the same thing to cartoons and movies, 'cause quite frankly I see a lot of that kind of thing in those mediums as well.

While this IS a better issue than violence... it's one that's addressed numerous times before a game is even put in the disc slot.

Multiple times in the manuals, right when the systems turn on, sometimes on a screen before the intro sequence OF the game, etc... it's only an issue if you either don't give a crap or you're illiterate.

Seriously, I've never EVER heard someone with epilepsy getting a seizure over a videogame, or any other thing.

Those seizures are so random, that ANYTHING and simultaniously NOTHING can set it off.

I wonder did the British government demand that the makers of the Pokemon show get rid of all seizure inducing effects out of their show. Or how about making this easier and say any TV or movie? Most likely this is just another case of video game bigotry again since someone needs to fill Jack Thompson shoes.


/rantoff

My wife suffers from epilepsy. She's suffered more from movies like 'Blade' etc than from any video game (it's mostly muzzle flashes that set her off in movies).

As a question to the MP, why does no-one notice that the Emergency service 'Blues and Twos' are a big risk as well? Not to mention energy-saving light bulbs?

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23401786-details/Low-energy+light+bulbs+'can+trigger+epilepsy'/article.do

Maybe before he starts making accusations that 'other people don't do it' he should do a little more research.

I'm not against the idea of protection against fits, but talk about ignoring the issue outside your own personal scope....

@Trevor McGee

But then again even if they weren’t common sense, I’m pretty sure these examples I’ve written out are in the manual and probably even more to add to that.


At a quick check of a couple manuals, yes they are, though the only thing they add is to take a 15 minute break per hour of play.

I have had a seizure before, while playing video games too!

I have had 2 playing FF10
1 playing FF7
1 playing Mario Kart Double Dash with my friend
and 1 playing Warcraft 3

A few others but I can't remember what I was playing.

I agree they aren't fun to have, but I don't blame the video games. I don't because it was about 12 years between my first game and my first seizure. I believe that it is a result of the drug zoloft which I had to start taking shortly before the first.

My ramblings aside its best to see if medical treatments are available. I am on medication right now which has been largely successful. I've only had one the past 2 years, and it was in my sleep. The cause has to be determined first before pinning the responsibility on something as well. It's a very simple and painless procedure.

@jabrwock It sounds like what you're friend has would be called petit-mal seizures. Grand-mal are the ones which result in the violent spasms. I tell ya they suck.

@neoelasticman My friend told me that I said something right before my MK:DD seizure that I don't remember saying, so there might be a bit of merit to what she is saying. I'm not saying she is 100% right, though.

They give proper warning, but I suppose maybe an anti-flicker option would help. Turn off the flashes, maybe fewer incidents will occur.

My wife has asked me to make a statement on her behalf.

'I suffer from epilepsy, that's an illness I have, I was not 'given' epilepsy by the movies I watched, it is simply my bodies reaction to stimuli. Please don't make out the epilepsy sufferers somehow bought it on themselves by consuming the media. We were not 'poisoned'.'

I have lost count how many times I was warned about epileptic seizures. Warnings are on every time I start up a game, on the manuals of every game, and on the manuals of the game consoles. The kid's been warned.

@asswhopper225.43659886546*

You have issues...

Whoops. "Parents should know that every time they buy their child a game, there is the potential for an epileptic fit." First page of the manual, sometimes a splash screen when you turn the game on, common knowledge that strobing lights can induce a fit.

Now we have a problem. If she knew her kid was prone to photosensitive epilepsy, she should have been monitoring his Wii usage. If she didn't know, then no amount of warning would have helped.

It'd be like suing KP if their nuts sent someone into anaphylactic shock. They're nuts and it says "caution: nuts" on the bag, but you didn't know you were allergic to them. Are KP at fault for not warning you enough?

Don't all Nintendo games have a warning about that on the case?

But seizure-inducing effects are a longstanding video game tradition! Just look at old NES games like Zelda II and Rambo. Every time you died, the game punished you with a seizure. What better motivator is there to excel at gaming than that?

@Bones

I'm sure if people got home and read about the seizure warnings the game publisher would gladly give them a refund.

Or people could realize all games have the warning and have for a while (hence my PS1 example), and be cautious to begin with. Ignorance of warnings is not an excuse to blame what caused the seizure.

While I am usually against the censorship of games in any way, I wouldn't be that rattled if there was a cut-down on the amount of annoying flashing lights in games. Not only are flashy lights not adding that much depth to gaming, it pissed me off when I need to turn away from a cut scene just to avoid spasms.
 
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Should ‘sexism’ factor into a video game’s rating?:

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MechaTama31What was wrong with Remember Me? I liked that one... >.>11/20/2014 - 8:50pm
AvalongodI tend to see the violence and sexism issues as different. Historically we know that the violence issue is overblown. But sexism is real. Better representations of women in games WILL happen.11/20/2014 - 7:35pm
Andrew EisenAnd unless I completely missed it, there's nothing in there about "how Pokemon in general is sexist but you gotta look deep for it."11/20/2014 - 5:10pm
Andrew EisenSeriously, you're upset, irked and fearful over an opinion piece that suggests the Pokemon demo would be better with more options and a better-written female character? SERIOUSLY?!11/20/2014 - 5:07pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://gamasutra.com/blogs/PugetAlain/20141118/230420/Nearly_Ripped_off_to_death_by_a_publisher__Get_better_by_yourself_and_wait_for_justice_Maybe.php Topware screws over an indie studio because they can.11/20/2014 - 5:01pm
Andrew EisenAre you SURE you provided the right link?11/20/2014 - 4:59pm
prh99And yeah that sucks, especially when bonuses are tied to it, but that is more a problem with crappy publisher policies and scoring in general than any discussion on what may or may no be sexism in games.11/20/2014 - 4:59pm
prh99But no one is on their legislative high horse or on the litigation war path, for that matter. The biggest effect is that a reviewer might give it a lower score and drag down their meta critic ranking.11/20/2014 - 4:56pm
Wonderkarpyup11/20/2014 - 4:51pm
Andrew EisenOh for crying out loud. Wonderkarp, I apologize for how rude this question is but seriously, did you actually read that article?11/20/2014 - 4:47pm
Wonderkarpits a stigma. people in power hear this crap and start getting on their legislative high horse. but I feel like we've already paid too much attention too a demo.11/20/2014 - 4:46pm
Andrew EisenHarm gaming how?11/20/2014 - 4:35pm
Wonderkarpcause it gets parroted around and is used by people to harm gaming like Jack Thompsons did with Violence. http://www.themarysue.com/pokemon-oras-sexism/ here's the article.11/20/2014 - 4:28pm
Andrew EisenNo idea why such an opinion would upset or irk you so I'd be interested in reading it. Got a link?11/20/2014 - 4:13pm
Wonderkarplook deep for it....reaching much. those kinds of people are what urk me.11/20/2014 - 4:07pm
WonderkarpI got upset the other day when a known feminist blog wrote a large article on how the demo to Pokemon Omega Ruby was Sexist cause you couldnt play as a girl. It was a Demo....who cares? but they went off on how Pokemon in general is sexist but you gotta11/20/2014 - 4:06pm
Andrew EisenHere's the panel that Sarkeesian quote from earlier comes from. Amazing what the proper context does, isn't it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0qxtKz2vZw11/20/2014 - 3:32pm
NeenekoSomething to keep in mind, we tend to look at physics as 'hard', but math and physics are trivial compared to soc/psych (I have worked in both), but FEELS like it should be simplier.11/20/2014 - 3:17pm
NeenekoI think what tends to make discussing sexism in games difficult is scale, the issues tend to be systemic in nature, but bite sized examples are not... and the systemic part ties into a lot of dry academic stuff requiring domain knowledge not everyone has.11/20/2014 - 3:16pm
Wonderkarpand I jumped for joy when the Cogs went multigendered in GOW. but I also like male protagonists like Kratos or Nathan Drake or Link.11/20/2014 - 2:58pm
 

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