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UPDATE: Cyberpunk 2077 Causes Epileptic Seizure in Reviewer

cyberpunk 2077

UPDATE: CD Projekt Red have now issued a statement via Twitter. Therein they state they are adding an additional warning to the game, rather than just the one that exists in the game’s EULA. They are also working on “a more permanent solution.”

“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.”

The EULA includes a humorous version of the legal text in layman’s terms, as if one of the characters from the game were summarizing it (including terms from the game, such as calling the EULA “corpo text.” The segment on epilepsy comes under segment 3.2.

Seizure Warning. Cyberpunk 2077 may contain flashing lights and images, which may induce epileptic seizures. If you or anyone in your household has an epileptic condition, please consult your doctor before playing Cyberpunk 2077. If you experience dizziness, altered vision, eye or muscle twitches, loss of awareness, disorientation, any involuntary movement, or convulsions while playing, immediately discontinue use and consult your doctor.”

[…]

” ‘Nother warning here, an’ it’s an important one, too! If you or someone you live with suffers from an epileptic condition, talk to your doctor before jackin’ into Cyberpunk 2077.”

Original Story:

A reviewer of Cyberpunk 2077 has had an epileptic seizure, due to the Braindance device allegedly being based off medical devices designed to cause them.

While early reviewer scores praise the game (currently sitting at 91 out of 100 on Metacritic), the game has been criticized in those same review for having many bugs, even after a 50GB Day 0 patch. However, one of the issues is more serious than that.

Associate Editor of Game Informer Liana Ruppert reports that while playing the game, she suffered “one major seizure and felt several moments where I was close to another one.” In spite of this Ruppert continued to play the game, to help create a guide on when those moments occurred.

Epilepsy is a condition where stimuli (typically when light of a certain color and brightness flash or are in certain patterns) cause a seizure. These are not always a full body convulsion, and can sometimes causing someone to pass out, or convulsions in a specific group of muscles. As of 2015, 39 million people have epilepsy.

When an individual knows the specific stimuli that causes an epileptic fit, this is called a trigger. Ruppert’s guide for scenes in Cyberpunk 2077’s likely to trigger an epileptic seizure include the interface using a red glitching effect, and the game’s clubs and bars.

Likewise, Johnny Silverhand can have a “flickering pale blue glitch effect,” which may cause issues for some with epilepsy. Ruppert’s workarounds for these issues include reducing the brightness of monitors, as well as eye-saving, colorblind, or night modes.

What caused Ruppert’s grand mal seizure (which results in a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions) was the Braindance sequences. In the game, these are when the player can “hack” into the memory of another character, learning new information based on what that character saw.

Ruppert explains that “pretty much everything” about the Braindance caused her seizure. These include the player character putting on a headset in one instance with “a rapid onslaught of white and red blinking LEDs.” 

Ruppert explained this was akin to real life neurological devices used to trigger epileptic seizures for diagnosis. “If not modeled off of the IRL design,” Ruppert states “it’s a very spot-on coincidence, and because of that this is one aspect that I would personally advise you to avoid altogether.”

This continues with the memories players explore, as several of the layers (soundwave, thermal, and more) feature glitch-style animations that can cause epileptic seizures for some.

Editor’s Note: The link below is to our coverage of the Night City Wire livestream. We will not link directly to the footage we are about to discuss.

During the first Night City Wire livestream, we see the headset in question (at 12:41 and 13:20, scene pictured above). As the character leaves and re-enters the Braindance sequence, we see the LEDs on the headset (in first person view, directly over the player’s eyes) flash white while two larger red LEDs also blink.

The livestream did not appear to have an epilepsy warning, nor have there been any reports of individuals suffering epileptic seizures watching the livesteam or VOD. As with the prior issues, Ruppert recommends players look away during these moments in the game, or ask a friend to help should it be necessary to progress the main story.

Ruppert outright states “This is a pattern of lights designed to trigger an epileptic episode and it very much did that in my own personal playthrough.” It should be noted that Game Informer’s review of the game was written by another member of staff, and that Ruppert was playing the game to assist in making that review.

COO of charity Able Gamers Steven Spohn tweeted his similarly damning findings. “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.”

God is a Geek reports that Louise Cousins, the director of external affairs for charity Epilepsy Action issued the following statement.

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.

87 people are diagnosed with epilepsy every day, and their first seizure can often come out of nowhere. Many people living with epilepsy can strive for many years to gain seizure control and it is devastating to have a breakthrough seizure. Seizures can cause injury and impact on things like driving, employment and education. In the worst cases, they can be fatal.

Cyberpunk 2077 is launching December 10th on Windows PC (via Epic GamesGOG, and Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Google Stadia. You can expect our review soon!

Image: Steam

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Ryan Pearson

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Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.