Cyberpunk 2077 Contains Epileptic Triggers

| Dec 8, 2020
Cyberpunk 2077 Contains Epileptic Triggers
Cyberpunk 2077, one of the biggest games of the year, arrives this week, but eager fans may need to be mindful of some potentially dangerous visual effects.

Reviewers have their hands on the long-awaited CD Projekt Red game ahead of its official launch this Thursday, and Game Informer’s Liana Rupert reports that certain sequences use flashing light patterns that are known to cause epileptic episodes.

Cyberpunk 2077 Contains Epileptic Triggers
Many of the sequences reported to cause epileptic incidents in Cyberpunk 2077 involve Judy and the “Braindance” events. (CD Projekt Red)

There are reports of “a lot of red glitching animations” throughout Cyberpunk 2077, and “a flickering pale blue glitch effect” highlighting scenes with Johnny Silverhands—played by Keanu Reaves, and a major selling point/marketing focus. These are known to be common photosensitive triggers for epileptic seizures.

More intense, however, are the “Braindance” sequences, wherein the player does a cybernetic deep dive into memories. V—the player character—uses a headset “much like the actual device neurologists use in real life to trigger a seizure when they need to trigger one for diagnosis purposes,” and the glitch effects that follow are “a rapid onslaught of white and red blinking LEDs […] a pattern of lights designed to trigger an epileptic episode.”

“Pretty much everything about this is a trigger and this is something that caused me to have a grand mal seizure while playing,” wrote Rupert.

UK-based foundation Epilepsy Action called CD Projekt Red out on the decision, claiming “these features are unsafe and should have been avoided to make the game more accessible,” adding “photosensitive seizures can be triggered by lights or patterns that flash or flicker between 16 and 25 times a second. But some people are sensitive to rates as low as 3 or as high as 60 a second.”

As of this writing, CD Projekt Red has not yet responded to the issue.

Rupert mentioned turning down the screen’s brightness, using colorblind modes, or just looking away from the screen altogether to mitigate the effects of these sequences, but hopefully Cyberpunk 2077 will correct this with future patches. Games carry generic warnings about flashing lights and epileptic risks, but these design choices are above and beyond the norm.

More information on epilepsy and photosensitive triggers can be found on Epilepsy Action’s website, or through the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance.

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