Cyberpunk 2077 - Time for a wider conversation on Photosensitive content

Further to our recent article regarding photosensitive issues identified in the game Cyberpunk 2077, we welcome confirmation from the game’s developers that they have introduced a fix aimed at addressing the issues identified.

While this is very much welcome, we believe that this issue has brought attention to the need for a much wider conversation on photosensitivity within the gaming industry as a whole.

The fact that the issues in this game were only identified in the week of Cyberpunk’s launch highlight that there needs to be a much more stringent mechanism to ensure that people with photosensitive epilepsy get warnings about triggering content.

While many game developers voluntarily test content, the fact that this issue presented this week shows why more rigid standards are required.

Given that games have become so advanced in terms of the player’s individual experience, it is surely possible today that users can be given the option to switch off potentially triggering content in future game development.  Or to go further, perhaps a conversation needs to be had about the benefits of including dangerous content in the first place.

While it is one thing to know that you have photosensitive epilepsy, there are those that may not know they have the condition until they are exposed to triggering content. Given the significant risks involved and the long-term impact of having an epilepsy diagnosis, it is time for all media and technology companies of all kinds to follow the lead of television (and more recently TikTok) and put rigorous standards in place to protect people with photosensitive seizures. The technology exists (Harding FPA being a notable example) to test a variety of media for potentially triggering content. It must be put to full use.

This year more than ever, the importance of an escape from reality is something that has been needed by all of us. Games offer all of us that escape but players need to be assured of their safety while doing so.

This is far from the first time that people with epilepsy have been affected by consuming media and entertainment. Previous examples have included cartoons, films, social media images and even advertising. It is extremely disappointing and frustrating that in 2020, we are still issuing warnings to members about an issue which was entirely avoidable.

We believe that it is time for a new conversation about photosensitivity, which needs to happen at an international, rather than a local level.

What do YOU think? Do you have photosensitive epilepsy and how does it impact YOU? What do YOU think needs to be done? Can you share your story? Get in touch at info@epilepsy.ie