NY Bill Would Require Seizure Warnings by Game Retailers

As we’ve said in the past, the New York legislature has something of an infatuation with video game legislation.

New York, of course, passed a largely symbolic video game law in 2008 and GamePolitics has already reported on two new content-related bills which have been submitted in the current Assembly session.

A third Assembly proposal seeks to warn consumers about the risk of game-induced seizures. A.4004, sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D, at left), would require video game retailers to display such warnings. Failure to do so would subject retailers to a $50 fine. From the bill:

Around 1 in every 130 people is diagnosed as having epilepsy, whereas only 1 in every 10,000 have Photosensitivity Epilepsy. Among people with epilepsy, only an estimated 3-5% have seizures triggered by lights or patterns. Photosensitivity Epilepsy most commonly affects children.

This Bill would require that a warning be placed upon every video game warning people of the dangers of Photosensitivity Epilepsy.

Englebright has tried unsuccessfully to pass this legislation since 2001. The bill has been referred to the Assembly’s Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee.

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  1. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    No more Wipeout HD for you. 


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  2. J.Alpha.Gamma says:

    Call me crazy, but from here it looks like the NY guvs think the gaming populace of New York State has the IQ of a walnut.

  3. Kincyr says:

    Put warning labels on shelves next to TVs/monitors:
    Warning: TVs/monitors may cause seizures.

    and there we have it: it’s the TVs/monitors that causes the seizures, and it’s NOT limited to the videogames they display.

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  4. Adamas Draconis says:

    A friend of mine has epilepsy as well, fortunately it’s well controlled and he (usually) has no trouble with seizures while playing. (And the cop’s flashers affect alot of people that way they disorient the hell out of me and I’m not epileptic.)

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  5. JustChris says:

    Now that statement just muddles things up. So retailers are to put their own proprietary warning stickers on top of the shrink wrap that seals the games that already have their own warnings printed on the back cover?


  6. Zevorick says:

    Hence my statement

    "The only reason why warning labels are there in the first place is because some people, who have never shown signs or symptoms of epilepsy, started showing them after seeing patterns in a few games."

  7. CaptainZM says:

    As much as we’d want to believe they put the warning up as a truly concerned gesture and completely with only good intentions… thats not quite true. They also did it so they could get out of liability if somebody decides they want to sue them.

  8. ElfyEikal says:

    Well. games have even give a warning on Epilepsy for a very long time. Take for Example. Metal Gear Solid 4. if you’ve played over some time. the game will prompt you to take a rest. this Bill is just wasting Tax money. since Developers know better to issue warnings about this. BUT! its not up to retailers to Force the issue. its up to the people to know better.

    Vitality Before Violence

  9. barra_sadei says:

    This is more PR than anything else. I mean, look at the fine. $50? That’s nothing. Maybe a bigger impact on specialized game stores, like Game Stop, but a Target or Wal Mart? I mean, come one, those guys make enough money for this to be nothing but a drop in the bucket.

  10. TBoneTony says:

    It is sad that some Politicians are SO FAR BEHIND the times that they forget to realize that thanks to Pokemon in Japan, there ARE ALREADY Health Warnings about Photosnsitive issues with videogames.

    Not only that, but there are health warnings about mucel cramps, as well as fatigue while playing videogames much like how long periods of driving causes fatigue too.

    I personally think that Politicians see videogames as they were in the 1980’s have are still stuck in their minds that videogames are all about scoring the highest points. If you ask them what do they think is normal for videogames, the most common thing you get from these people are about “scoring points”.

    Now this is just from my own opinion that most people see videogames as like this, perhaps they never have played a videogame after the 1983 market crash.

    Can anyone elaborate of this theory?

  11. Baruch_S says:

    I agree with you completely. People who have never had a seizure can’t know that video games will cause them to have one. NY can stick as many warning labels on games as they want; these people will still have to have a seizure to realize they have photosensitive epilepsy.

    Once you’ve had a seizure, you should go to your doctor and be told that flashing lights such as TV and video games cause you to have seizures. Flashing lights should be pretty self-evident, so once you know that you have photosensitive epilepsy; you shouldn’t need a warning label telling you that video games could trigger a siezure.

    If people aren’t smart enough to figure out that having photosensitive epilepsy means that they should avoid video games, I think they should just suffer the consequences of being stupid. But, since we live in a culture that has to have "Caution: Hot" warnings on coffee, I bet we’ll still end up seeing obvious warnings on video games.

  12. Wolvenmoon says:

    Good intentions, bad practice.

    Seizures can be terrifying, many games already have warnings and best practices to avoid them. I actually think this is a good idea, but I disagree with ANY blanket legislation like this.

  13. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Why not have the retailer slip a slip in the case or shrink wrap with clear seizer warnings?

    An insentive would be 5% off business tax.

    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.


  14. sheppy says:

    Agreed it’s a stuipid bill but you’re all too quick to claim personal responsibility. Fact of the matter is many don’t have that.  You don’t know until it happens.  Thus warning people is a bit redundant.  If someone has a seizure while playing a game for the first time, I don’t see how the person having this is entirely at fault.  Of course the warning then becomes useless because the person discovering they have this epillepsy wouldn’t have stayed away due to the warnings.

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  15. Baruch_S says:

    It’s absurd. If they don’t know they have seizures, putting a warning on it isn’t going to help.  This is just a waste of taxpayer money.

  16. hayabusa75 says:

    PS3 games have them, don’t know about the 360…

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  17. Inimical says:

    As everyone already said, most people don’t know they’ll have seizures until the first one. So here’s a better idea: provide some kind of instruction for people if someone DOES have a seizure when they are playing. If the government is going to mandate anything, it should be that.

    Most people don’t know what to do, and it’s probably 10x more helpful to people with epilepsy than this crap.

  18. GoodRobotUs says:

    I’m always dubious of these ‘blatantly obvious’ bills, it always make me suspect there’s some kind of landmine proposition hidden away in the legalese that is the real purpose of it.

    I don’t really have a problem with the bill as it stands, it’s relatively harmless, and my wife has epilepsy, so possibly my views on the matter are different, but then, in the interests of fairness, why aren’t Police Cars painted with a big Epilepsy warning on the sides, after all, my wife always has to look away when one is going past due to the flashing.

  19. Andrew Eisen says:

    I don’t know about Sony and Microsoft but as far as Nintendo’s concerned, it’s closer to putting a warning label over the warning label that’s already on the game case.


    Andrew Eisen

  20. Zevorick says:

    Okay, I know I’m a liberal hearted pansy that is all for protecting those that honestly do need it (people with crippling mental disorders for example), but this is friggin ridiculous. You’re taking a lifetime prevalence rate of 3.4/1000 (crude estimates based on minimal research, forgive me :p) and making a warning for everybody when the warnings are already before a lot of games and even in the instruction manual.

    This is a WASTE OF MONEY!!!!

    Seriously these people have epilepsy and not severe mental retardation. I guarantee you they fully understand what epilepsy is and what triggers their symptoms. Having one or two seizures that lead to a diagnosis in some cases will do that to you! They don’t need a warning that says "warning video games have flashy colors of light and patterns that cause seizures". They already know this! The only reason why warning labels are there in the first place is because some people, who have never shown signs or symptoms of epilepsy, started showing them after seeing patterns in a few games. That’s going to happen regardless of what you do because they have no utter idea they have the disorder in the first friggin place!!!!

    Get your head out of your arses people!

  21. sortableturnip says:

    Warning: Filing idiotic legislation may cause higher taxes, herpes, increased wasted spending, super herpes, and non-election syndrome…

  22. sortableturnip says:

    That would be like putting a warning label on the McDonalds sign warning people that the coffee could be hot when there’s already a warning label on the cup itself…

  23. CaptainZM says:

    Perhaps they’re creating these low-ball bills for a purpose. If enough bills about games pass they think they can try and escalate the stakes of each bill and work their way up to something big, like banning violent games, etc.


    But seriously, this is about as bad as some Lawyer commercial I saw only once on TV where they tried to convince you to seek them out if you’d ever had a seizure due to games. "You may be eligible for a lawsuit due to their negligence" blah blah blah….

  24. nightwng2000 says:

    Put warning labels on grocery store shelves next to the peanut butter:

    Warning: Peanut butter may cause allergic reactions.

    Put warning labels on shelves next to TVs/monitors:

    Warning: TVs/monitors may cause seizures.

    Put warning labels on signs next to refridgerators:

    Warning: Refridgerators may cause suffocation.

    Shall I keep going?

    Oh, and trying since 2001? 

    Warning: Filing idiotic legislation may cause some senators to suffer Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to wasted repetition.


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  25. DavCube says:

    Having them at the retailers would be pointless… not only would they have to push that over to movies and TV and well, but as far as i know, late GBA/Gamecube games, nearly all Wii/DS games (hell, the consoles themselves have warnings posted WHEN YOU POWER THEM ON.) and probably some of the Sony/MS software have those warnings, if not in the manuals, programmed into the games themselves.

    A required mandate at this level would, again, be MEANINGLESS.

    Why can’t these game-legislators ever GET that? The vast majority of the things they ask for are already being done in earnest almost solely for video games.

  26. Andrew Eisen says:

    True but part of the bill states:

    "This Bill would require that a warning be placed upon every video game warning people of the dangers of Photosensitivity Epilepsy."


    Andrew Eisen

  27. sheppy says:

    Then they better put these warnings next to TVs, cameras, flashing toys, lamps, florescent bulbs, any areas under florescent bulbs, bathrooms, christmas lights….

    See where I’m going with this?  It’s a video game bill blaming a trigger instead of the core problem and singles out games as the most common source.  Hell, you could be driving along a gravel road and an oncoming cars headlights bumping up and down could trigger the seixure.  Where’s Nissan’s sign?

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  28. sheppy says:

    Unfortunately, knowing whether or not you’re vulnerable to having seizures doesn’t occur until, well, you have your first one.  This is why some like to blame the trigger for the condition which already exists.

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  29. nighstalker160 says:

    I think the distinction here is that this bill is targeted at RETAILERS.

    So there would have to be a warning flier in GameStop or Wal-Mart or Best Buy.

    I don’t have a particular problem with this, except that it does seem kind of redundant given the warning is already on the games themselves.

    But still, as far as proposed legislation goes…this is pretty tame.

  30. Baruch_S says:

    So 1 person out of every 10,000 has photosensitive epilepsy. That’s .0001% of the population. Is it really worth putting up a sign for .0001% of the population? And shouldn’t these people know that they have photosensitive epilepsy that can be set off by anything with flashing lights? Common sense and personal responsibility say this bill is worthless.

  31. Ryno says:

    One of my favorite things where I work:


    WARNING: Contains Shrimp

    Yeah, that pretty much says it all.

  32. Neeneko says:

    I wish I could find a reference, but I can recall years ago something about a wine called "chateau de warning", with a giant warning as it’s label

  33. JustChris says:

    I’m sure at some point in our jobs, we’re all guilty at padding our work. If I was paid by the hour to do some programming work, I’d write a convoluted 100-line function to do the job of a 10-line one, and when it’s checked out at the code depository, my supervisor can look at it and say "must have been a very tricky job to crank out that one!"


  34. Father Time says:

    Ok next week we’re going to require Microsoft to package solitaire with it’s operating systems and maybe even minesweeper.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  35. wrench says:

    First page of every manual going back to the original NES. I remember reading through mario bros. for the first time and reading it. than getting worried I might have problems….I was like 7 at the time though lol.


    Just more waste to fix issues that don’t exist. Good thing the country isn’t going through an economic crisis or anything.

  36. DeepThorn says:

    Yeah, there are already laws in place that say that if a form of media can cause such a medical condition that it has to have a warning before hand.  So it is a waste of money and redundant.  Politicians trying to show they are doing something when they are doing nothing.

    Epileptics already know what to be careful of, so yeah…

    Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
    How to set Xbox 360 Parental Controls

  37. sqlrob says:

    Bite size mini Milky Way Bar: "May contain traces of peanuts", no ingredient list

    Bite size mini Three Musketeers: "May contain traces of peanuts", no ingredient list

    Bite site mini Snickers: No warnings at all, no ingredient list




  38. Neeneko says:

    *sigh*This would be the equivelent of requiring all food have a peanut warning label on it because some people are allergic and some foods have peanuts.

    I could see the value in marking specific games.. I think that laws requring labeling for people with rare conditions so they can be their own lookout are a good thing.. but a broad ‘every game must have a warning’ is worse then useless.  It gives the consumer zero useful information and probably scares off people that it shouldn’t.

  39. Neeneko says:

    That and voters often feel that if something is wrong the law needs to be changed rather then better enforced or suffient funding to enforce it properly. 

  40. Lost Question says:

    mostly for a bit of padding (of both the moral and financal variety) but also just to wast time appearing to do something

  41. Chaltab says:

    What is with the common legislator’s urge to redundantly make laws that require things that already exist?

  42. MaskedPixelante says:

    Unfortunately, since the warning doesn’t seem to take up 90% of the back of the box, this is probably going to get a lot of attention

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  43. Papa Midnight says:

    Indeed. I was also under the distinct impression that the game publishers already made this perfectly clear. Hell, back in 2001 when Wizards of the Coast offered LAN parties, I remember going to play Unreal Tournament and was notified by a rather large notice "If you have epilepsy or sensitivity to repeated light patterns, do not play these games without first consulting a physician" or something along those lines, plus a disclaimer in case someone with that sensitivity indeed did choose to do so.

    On that note, one of the players there suffered an epileptic seizure on the spot while playing Death Match on Morpheus. He was promptly assisted by paramedics who arrived within 5 minutes.

    I dare say this legislation is not needed.

    Papa Midnight

  44. Andrew Eisen says:

    Let’s try a little experiment, shall we?

    First, I’ll grab the nearest video game.  Oh look, LEGO Batman.

    Now, I’ll open the case and take out the instruction booklet.

    Next, I’ll start reading…

    Hey!  That didn’t take long!  Look at what’s printed at the top of the first page (inside cover): WARNING – Seizures.  "Some people (about 1 in 4000) may have seizures or blackouts triggered by light flashes or patterns, and this may occur while they are watching TV or playing video games…"

    Wait, what’s this on the back of the box"WARNING: If you have epilepsy or have had seizures…"


    Dear Assemblyman Steve Englebright,

    There’s no need for legislation.  The seizure warnings are already there and have been for a long time.



    Andrew Eisen

  45. Austin_Lewis says:

    They’re even before some games.  I know they’re before nearly every Wii game we own and every game I’ve played on my DS has them too…

    Seems like a waste of money to me.

  46. lordlundar says:

    As we’ve said in the past, the New York legislature has something of an infatuation with useless video game legislation.

    Fixed that for you Dennis.

  47. KayleL says:

    There is already health warnings on it. You see it on the back of every Wii game (atleast the Wii games I have) and every time you turn on the DS, you see a refer to manual about health warnings (and you can not disable that)

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