Epilepsy Action has called for urgent updates to Cyberpunk 2077 after a Game Informer reviewer had a seizure from a section “designed to trigger” an episode.
Update: 14th December 2020, 14:00
CD Projekt Red has pushed an update to Cyberpunk 2077, v1.04, which hopes to address concerns raised by Game Informer and UK epilepsy charity, Epilepsy Action.
The latest update contains a raft of other fixes and tweaks (that the game desperately needs) but the bit we’re concerned with here is the potential epilepsy triggers in the game, specifically during the game’s “Braindance” segments.
According to the patch notes, CD Projekt Red has: “Modified the flashing effect on braindances to reduce the risk of inducing epileptic symptoms. The effect has been smoothed out and the flashes reduced in frequency and magnitude.”
There’s no indication that other potential epilepsy triggers in the game’s neon-heavy and intentionally glitchy visual style, but this fix on a compulsory story mission – combined with a new epilepsy warning upon launching the game, rather than buried in its generic EULA – is a welcome change to Cyberpunk 2077. Liana Ruppert, the Game Informer writer who originally flagged the issue, is also pleased.
Update: 9th December 2020, 10:30
Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red has quote-tweeted Game Informer’s Liana Ruppert’s original epilepsy warning with a response:
Thank you for bringing this up. We’re working on adding a separate warning in the game, aside from the one that exists in the EULA (https://t.co/eXpPn73VSK). Regarding a more permanent solution, Dev team is currently exploring that and will be implementing it as soon as possible. https://t.co/lXFypnSit2
— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) December 8, 2020
The quote-tweet reads:
“Thank you for bringing this up. We’re working on adding a separate warning in the game, aside from the one that exists in the EULA (cyberpunk.net/en/user-agreem). Regarding a more permanent solution, Dev team is currently exploring that and will be implementing it as soon as possible.”
This is obviously good news. Cyberpunk 2077 in its current state clearly poses some degree of danger to people with epilepsy. But given that most people only find out they have epilepsy when they have their first seizure triggered, a warning for this sort of trigger – that assumes people already know they have epilepsy – isn’t really sufficient. (Outside of covering one’s back from a legal standpoint, obviously.)
It’s encouraging to see CD Projekt Red “exploring” a “more permanent solution” to this problem “as soon as possible,” as per Epilepsy Action’s original statement.
Original story: 8th December 2020, 17:45
The UK based Epilepsy charity (epilepsy.org.uk) has sent out a press release urging updates to Cyberpunk 2077 after reviewer for Game Informer Liana Ruppert reported in a PSA that she had a grand mal seizure triggered when playing.
Ruppert’s seizure was, disturbingly, triggered by a main story section involving a “braindance”, which she suggests actually appears to be modelled on an actual device neurologists use in real life to trigger seizures for diagnosis purposes. In her PSA she goes on to highlight many more examples of potential triggers and how you can avoid them if you too are vulnerable. Cyberpunk 2077 has no accessibility options built-in to support epileptics.
Even worse, however, are the hundreds of hate videos Ruppert says she’s received in response to her PSA, “all disguised as support” whilst “including deliberate flashing to induce photosensitive triggers.”
“Be better, please,” Ruppert quite reasonably asks.
Louise Cousins, Epilepsy Action’s director of external affairs said of the incident:
“We are alarmed and saddened that a game reviewer had a seizure triggered by Cyperpunk 2077, before it was even launched. The game features rapidly blinking lights and other animations that could cause seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy. These features are unsafe and should have been avoided to make the game more accessible. With huge demand and excitement building for its release, it may pose a serious risk to people with photosensitive epilepsy. The developers CD Projekt Red should consider how they can update the game to make it safer. A disclaimer warning at the beginning isn’t enough.”
Well-known accessibility advocate Steven Spohn has also expressed how he’s “disturbed by the reports.”
I am deeply disturbed by the reports I am seeing from fellow disabled gamers.
People are reporting migraines, dizziness, and light sensitivity from this kind of lighting@CDPROJEKTRED I hope you look into this. No one should have to risk having a seizure to play a videogame. https://t.co/cft398LTOn
— Steven Spohn (Spawn) (@stevenspohn) December 8, 2020
“No one should have to risk having a seizure to play a videogame,” says Spohn.
Between the categorical failure to protect disabled gamers and the repugnant reaction of hate Ruppert has received for speaking up, it’s all a sad state of affairs. There’s been no official response from CD Projekt Red as of the time of writing. Here’s hoping they move with alacrity to resolve these issues.
Epilepsy is a serious condition which, although it can often be managed with medication, has no cure. Here are some links to epilepsy charities if you want to donate to their research into a cure:
- Epilepsy Foundation (US)
- Epilepsy Canada (CAN)
- Epilepsy Action (UK)
- International League Against Epilepsy (International)