Nintendo knew about, downplayed seizure risks: BBC report

Nintendo's Mega Man X was among the four games tested by the BBC that did not meet the flashing and pattern safety guidelines used by British TV.

Nintendo’s Mega Man X was one of the four games tested by the BBC for this investigative report that did not meet  British TV seizure safety guidelines.

A BBC report on Nintendo revealed that the company knew more than 20 years ago which of its games were most likely to cause seizures–and downplayed the seizure risk to customers. A former Nintendo customer relations employee interviewed for the story said that many customers called to  complain about experiencing seizures. Because he wanted to advise customers concerned about the seizure risk, he asked the company’s R & D group for a list of the games most likely to cause seizures. 

Developers came up with a list of more than 30 games. Before the list was released to customers, he said, the company’s lawyers pared down the list to 12 – 15 titles. As customer complaints about seizures grew, Nintendo stopped releasing any seizure information about specific games. The Nintendo executive interviewed asserted that the company began making its games safer and started including seizure warnings with game instructions as soon as the problem came to their attention—in 1991.

The story, featured on the BBC’s Outrageous Fortune program in 2004, also includes an interview with photosensitive epilepsy expert Prof. Graham Harding. Using his own flash and pattern analyzer Prof. Harding shows the results of testing some Nintendo games for seizure safety.

To view the ten-minute segment about video game seizures in the report on Nintendo, first go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aFhW56c2Vg and fast forward to about 5:15 into the clip. The seizure segment continues at the beginning of this clip.

The documentary was never aired in the US, and I’d long since given up searching for it online. But I recently came upon it thanks to John Ledford, who has been tracking seizure lawsuits filed against the game industry. John became blind in one eye as a result of his first grand mal seizure—which occurred while he was playing a video game in 1994.


5 Comments on “Nintendo knew about, downplayed seizure risks: BBC report”

  1. John Ledford says:

    BBC’s investigative reporter who, in 2004, uncovered information that Nintendo knew its video games triggered seizures in “Outrageous Fortunes.”
    https://twitter.com/bettypotter

  2. John Ledford says:

    Nintendo museum tour–Osaka, Japan( where the parent corporation of SNK of America- the video game corporation that I sued- has headquarters.)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z12pSrZ-fU

  3. John Ledford says:

    Nintendo president( as appeared in the BBC report “Outrageous Fortune”) just passed away.
    See article.http://www.nbcnews.com/business/nintendo-video-game-pioneer-hiroshi-yamauchi-dies-85-4B11197349

  4. jacki k says:

    Muckraker Solodar. Excellent reporting.


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