Game forums blame pilot, natch

gamers blame players for video game seizuresWhile product liability suits don’t generally get a lot of respect, litigation is often an effective way to pressure manufacturers to make their products safer for consumers. In my last post I was wondering what the game forums would have to say about the lawsuit recently filed by John Ryan McLaughlin, a former F-18 pilot who has permanently lost his flight status as a result of a seizure he experienced while playing Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls IV.

A thick skin is required just to lurk on these forums because the level of hostility can be so high when posters comment on a perceived threat to a game or game company. Some of these game forums are populated by folks paid to post comments supportive of the company/industry, but I suspect most of the people who post their disdain for those with photosensitive epilepsy are just—how should I say this—lacking in social graces and emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet. As expected, talk of McLaughlin’s legal action quickly brought out contemptuous and often ill-informed postings.

Here are a few examples of what I found in the forums, somewhat sanitized. Most are plug-and-play responses that have been trotted out already in other discussions about video games provoking seizures:

  • The pilot should be grateful to the game for exposing a hidden condition he didn’t know he had. Especially since the consequences would likely be quite dire if a seizure had happened in the cockpit.
  • It’s probably a coincidence that the seizure happened while he was playing.
  • The poster has epilepsy and has never had a game seizure. So obviously there’s something fishy about the story.
  • If the game hadn’t triggered a seizure, something else would have.
  • Maybe his sensitivity to all that screen flashing developed from all the years of flying F-18s, and the video game just triggered a seizure.  (This one is my personal favorite.)
It all leaves me kind of speechless…


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