The PC version of Cyberpunk 2077 now features an on-screen notice at load time warning players of the risk of seizures. The Washington Post’s Elise Favis was among the first to note the addition last night.
“In this game you will encounter a variety of visual effects (e.g. flashing lights during braindance sequences) that may provoke seizures or loss of consciousness in a minority of people. If you or someone in your family has ever displayed symptoms of epilepsy in the presence of flashing lights, please consult your physician before playing Cyberpunk 2077. If you or someone you know experiences any of the above symptoms while playing, stop and seek medical attention immediately.”
Booted up Cyberpunk 2077 to see a seizure warning come up at the start of the game that wasn’t there before. Really amazing to see how @DirtyEffinHippy helped make meaningful change happen for the safety of players. 👏 pic.twitter.com/ItNwuLOxla
— Elise Favis (@elisefavis) December 10, 2020
Many games, including every title in the Ubisoft catalog, include a similar on-screen warning for photosensitive players. Cyberpunk 2077 previously included a seizure warning in its EULA, but not on-screen. The Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game have yet to be updated.
The addition comes after Game Informer Associate Editor Liana Ruppert earlier this week publicized her struggles with seizures while playing a pre-release copy of the game. Since that piece was published, Ruppert reports that she has received “hundreds of videos disguised as support that are deliberate flashing to induce photosensitive triggers.”
That said, Ruppert added last night that “since this started, I’ve had 4 major AAA studios reach out to me saying this article has caused them to re-evaluate their dev process and more inclusive regarding neurological accessibility. I’ll take all of the abuse and hate if it means gamers can game safely. THANK YOU!”
“A more permanent solution”
After the publication of the Game Informer piece Tuesday, developer CD Projekt Red tweeted that it was exploring “a more permanent solution” to let players limit their potential exposure to epileptic triggers in the game. “We spent time this morning checking in with Liana to make sure she was okay as we were quite shaken reading about her experience,” a CDPR representative told Ars Technica. “We appreciate and thank her for her PSA—it gave us valuable insight that we will act upon.”
About 2.7 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of epilepsy, according to an Epilepsy Foundation article from 2014. About 100,000 of those have some level of photosensitivity to strobing light effects, representing one person in every 3,000 to 4,000.
But incidence studies in other countries suggest there may be as many as 800,000 photosensitive Americans who have simply not been exposed to a trigger that could set off a seizure, with higher potential concentrations in those ages 7 to 19.
The particular risk of seizures caused by video games has been well-known for decades. In 1993, a 14-year-old died from complications of a seizure suffered while playing Super Mario World, leading to sensationalized international headlines about the overall safety of games. And in 1997, an episode of the Pokémon anime that featured strobing light effects led to nearly 700 Japanese children being hospitalized with seizure-related problems.
Incidents like these prompted Nintendo to begin including a warning about the potential dangers of strobe effects to the Health and Safety notices included with its games (Sony and Microsoft have similar warnings for their consoles). Nintendo has faced a number of lawsuits over the seizure-inducing effects of its games, including one it settled out of court in 2004.