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

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.

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