UK game developers learn seizure safety tips

Publicity surrounding a 10-year-old boy's seizure from Ubisoft's game spurred the company to address the video game seizures problem.

Video game publishers across the UK now have access to guidelines for developing games that don’t trigger seizures, according to a story in yesterday’s Independent. Newcastle-based Ubisoft Reflections Ltd. has created a booklet for developers that is available to members of TIGA, the UK’s trade association for video game developers and publishers. This is an important step–which could eventually result in safer video games for those with photosensitive epilepsy.

Ubisoft has been a leader in publicly acknowledging the seizure risks of video games and pledging to create games that are seizure-safe. The company began addressing the problem after it was brought to public attention that a 10-year-old boy with no history of seizures experienced one while playing Ubisoft’s Rayman Raving Rabbids. His mother enlisted the support of her MP, John Penrose, who brought the safety issue before Parliament. Penrose proposed that video games published in the UK be subject to the same regulations that require all British broadcast TV programs and commercials to follow guidelines for seizure safety. In response to the threat of possible regulatory action by Parliament, the games industry is beginning to encourage its members to comply voluntarily with seizure safety guidelines. It will be interesting to see how many major developers climb on board.

Elected representatives in the US have not yet shown any interest in protecting the American public from visually induced seizures. Most are probably unaware that these seizures constitute a significant public health problem.  I have asked TIGA for access to the booklet so that I can report further on it here and explore how it might be adopted by the American game industry.

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