Can handheld games trigger seizures?

Nintendo's 3DS console

Nintendo’s 3DS console

Think the screen of a handheld game is too small to provoke seizures?

It isn’t. Games on the 2.9 inch screen of Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance SP provoked quite a few seizures in my daughter when she owned one ten years ago. 

Nintendo’s current handheld is the popular 3DS console, which has a 3.5 inch screen. I recently tested some 3DS games to ascertain their seizure safety.  

The rule of thumb (as it were) is that, for flashing and patterns to trigger seizures, the provoking image must take up at least one fourth of an individual’s visual field. It’s not unusual for kids to hold their portable games at close enough range for that small a screen to fill that much of their total view. Incidentally, although concerns were raised when the 3DS was introduced three years ago, there isn’t any conclusive evidence that 3D effects increase the risk of seizures in people who are photosensitive.

The IGN.com website recently identified the 14 most anticipated 3DS games for 2014 release. Here’s how they fared when tested for compliance with guidelines for preventing visually induced seizures; 6 of the 14 failed, and an additional 5 came close. Tests were done using the Harding Flash and Pattern Analyzer.

Here is how these highly anticipated 3DS games performed as far as meeting image safety guidelines for preventing photosensitive seizures:

Professor Layton & Azran Legacies, One Piece Romance Dawn, Mario Golf World Tour, Lego Movie, Yoshi's New Island, Super Smash Brothers, Mario Party Island Tour, CHantae & the Pirate's Curse, Retro City Rampage, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Chi Bi-Robo Photo Finder, Bravely Default, Conception II

14 Big 3DS Games of 2014, published January 30, 2014 on IGN.com

Yes, there are seizure warnings on all game packages, but the warnings are pretty worthless for consumers. A year ago I posted about Nintendo being fully aware of, but publicly downplaying, the risk of seizures from its games.



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