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Is Xbox Safe for People Suffering from Photosensitive Seizures?


This article was contributed by Cynthia Madison who works as an author at SmallBizClub

The gaming industry has taken the world by storm in the past decade. It has developed so much and rapidly that you can clearly see improvements year after year. And although it's one of the most successful industries, it has also been reported that it can affect one's health, from causing severe back pain to affecting eyesight. 

The first case where epilepsy received mainstream media attention was in 1997, when hundreds of children suffered seizure symptoms in front of their television sets after watching an episode of Pokémon. Unfortunately, there's no proper legal frame that allows people to claim compensation when such an incident happens, but that doesn't mean employers have to avoid employees with epilepsy. 

In this article, we'll reveal how Xbox and other gaming platforms are causing people with photosensitivity to develop serious seizures. Are they able to claim compensation for the damage done? Can such platforms develop better in terms of interface? Keep reading to find out. 

Xbox One S Microsoft

What is photosensitivity epilepsy? 

Photosensitivity epilepsy is a disorder that generates more than two seizures. It is highly related to the brain because these seizures happen after an abnormal electrical activity occurs in the brain. Some people have it from an imbalance of neurotransmitters and irregular brain wiring, but the cause can also be genetics. 

A photosensitive seizure shouldn't last more than five minutes, and the symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Muscle contractions 
  • Crying 
  • Changes in breathing patterns 
  • Tongue-biting 
  • Limbs twitching 
  • Loss of bladder control 

But that doesn't end here. When such an episode ends, it takes some time for the person to regain consciousness while feeling confused, tired and sore. Some of them can even experience memory loss for a while and have upsetting headaches. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disorder, although some medicines can reduce the frequency of seizures. Someone suffering from photosensitivity epilepsy must adapt their lifestyle and avoid many places that can expose them to seizure triggers, from concerts to firework shows. But what's also triggering for them is video games. 

Gaming accessibility 

The gaming industry has to adhere to a set of guidelines regarding gaming accessibility, which cover aspects like mobility, processing information, vision, hearing and speech. Although they're very in-depth, we can briefly cover the three sets:

  • Basic features: the game applies to almost all game mechanics;
  • Intermediate: the game has a good general design;
  • Advanced: the game has specific niche mechanics;

Among these characteristics, video game developers also struggle with listening to the community's voices regarding epilepsy. Although most games will show a warning label before starting, that is relatively useless because it doesn't allow people to enjoy playing entirely. 

Although in the past decade, there have been many lawsuits against video games, as people state that they trigger seizures and can become dangerous. Cyberpunk 2077 hasn't even warned people regarding photosensitive scenes in the game, which affected a journalist who had the courage to talk about the incident. Shortly after, the developers changed the settings with triggering potential and placed another epilepsy warning. 

Know that if you're a game developer and suffer from such a disorder, it's your employer's job to provide safety measures and ensure that you're not exposed to such events, so you can file a compensation claim in the UK for accidents at work, including epilepsy that's triggered by the negligence of your employer.  

Xbox has advised its users on what to do if they experience seizure symptoms, but they're still not fully realizing that the situation is much worse. Even though people with no history of seizures can have such photosensitive epileptic seizures, the solution is to adapt the video games' interfaces and colors. For example, Activision did a great job with the Call of Duty franchise, as they swapped out the colors of the hack effect from red and white to a more muted grey. 

How do video games cause seizures?

Although it's not possible to develop this disorder from video games, it's absolutely likely to get triggered when playing them. The frequency and the speed of the flashing light in video games are more or less damaging to people, as it depends on the person's resistance levels. 

Here's a short list of video games that can trigger those symptoms:

  • No Man's Sky 
  • Need For Speed 
  • SOMA 
  • Until Dawn 
  • Fallout 4
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 

Can you play games with epilepsy?

Although the triggers are quite often in video games, there are a few solutions to help you play video games safely, like:

  • Talking with your doctor and ensure you can be exposed to such content without being heavily affected;
  • Getting photosensitive epilepsy tests; 
  • Checking the game's details thoroughly before attempting to play it;
  • Try to wear an eye patch, as some people state that it has helped them avoid seizures;
  • Change the setting of your game, as most of them allow such settings;
  • Minimize the time you play video games. Even though you find yourself enjoying them, it's best to set a daily limit of playing. 

The Xbox page advises people that it would be best to play games in a well-lit room and avoid playing if they are exhausted or tired. They're aware that such symptoms can lead to more severe injuries from falling down or striking nearby objects. Parents especially must be wary of the games their children are playing because kids and adolescents are more prone to experience epilepsy symptoms from a young age. 

Although Xbox has yet to improve its gaming approach, its teams have added more to the disability community, from the Inclusive Design Sprints to a Gaming Accessibility Boot Camp. By being open to having a conversation with its users, they have the potential to create something useful for all types of game players. 

They've already set some guidelines regarding practices for mental health, communication experiences, time limits, and motion setting. Luckily, they'll be able to adapt their games for people prone to experiencing seizures. 

Wrapping up 

Epilepsy is a disorder that, even if it doesn't affect as many people, is still not discussed enough, especially in the gaming industry. Game developers must find better solutions for people who suffer from photosensitive seizures and allow them to enjoy playing games. 

About the author

Cynthia Madison is an author at SmallBizClub.com with a solid technical, business, and financial foundation. She's responsible for providing share-worthy articles that deliver value straight to the point. Cynthia enjoys watching thought-provoking TED talks on technology advancements in her spare time. She lives a “never stop learning” life.

Last Updated on September 13, 2022 3:46 pm CEST by Markus Kasanmascheff

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