The reviewer for “Cyberpunk 2077” displays an epileptic seizure, then worked to make the game safer

“It took me a long time to regain speech and independence,” said Robert. “I couldn’t walk the rest of the night.”

Some games and other forms of visual entertainment that include flashing lights or screen flashes are preceded by warnings for those sensitive to such effects. But “Cyberpunk 2077” lacked such a warning and did not include a way to stop scenes that could cause potential seizures, thus attracting international media attention Robert authored an article about her gaming experience Right before launching the game.

The developer of “Cyberpunk 2077”, CD Projekt Red, responded to the article with a statement on Twitter thanking Ruppert for raising the issue and indicated that the company “is working to add a separate warning in the game, other than that found in the end-user license agreement.” [end user licensing agreement]And that he will implement a “more durable solution” as soon as possible. The company will do so with the help of Ruppert after reading its article.

Robert said, “Frankly, I didn’t expect anyone to read it because I have written about epilepsy so many times, and I’m kind of used to ignoring it.”

In an email to the Washington Post, Stephanie Bayer, North America head of communications at CD Projekt Red, said developers had made suggestions from Ruppert and “tweaked the entire sequence” so it wouldn’t be causing seizures.

By release day, A seizure warning added. After a day, the game’s most problematic scenes, called “brain dance” sequences, were modified via patch to be safe for players with epilepsy and photosensitivity. These changes were implemented thanks to Ruppert’s article and subsequent consultation with the developer of CD Projekt Red, work she did on a free basis and was not compensated for.

For those who have been enthusiastically waiting for ‘Cyberpunk 2077’, I didn’t want this prediction to fade because of [an] Robert said about her motivation to volunteer her time.

“We take this very seriously and thank her for letting us rectify it,” Bayer wrote in an email to The Post.

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder in which abnormal electrical activity in the brain can lead to convulsions, impair senses and lead to loss of consciousness, and affect one in 26 Americans at some point in their lives, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Less (about three percent) of these Photosensitive, Which means that lights at certain intensities or visual patterns can trigger a seizure. The condition can be present at birth, but people can develop epilepsy over the course of their lives, as Robert did. It affects individuals differently – Robert lists heat and pressure like some of her other triggers for her seizures, for example – and the seizures can vary in severity depending on the circumstances.

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This made everyone realize, “Oh, that’s an issue we have to pay attention to,” French said.

The video game industry suffered scrutiny at an earlier time. Since 1991, Multiple lawsuits Owns Was brought Against video game makers who claim a game caused a seizure. However (aside from rare and very specific exceptions, such as a video game used in a federal environment) there is no regulation that requires gameplay testing for content that causes seizures. There is also no legal requirement to administer a warning about potentially hacking content. Whether individual platforms, publishers, and developers implement policies to design, test, or warn about light-sensitive triggers is entirely voluntary.

A comprehensive statement about seizure triggers early in the game has become the standard for many video games. Ubisoft, for example, adds a caveat in most video games and standardized tests to remove seizure-causing scenes beginning in 2008. The company implemented such measures after A 10-year-old boy has an epileptic seizure while playing “Rayman Raving Rabbids”. Ubisoft stated at the time that their tests “showed that no photosensitivity posed a significant risk of photosensitivity epilepsy”.

During its pre-release review period, Cyberpunk 2077 did not receive any warning except for a brief mention in the end-user license agreement (an essentially legal document that most gamers will not read).

This isn’t the first time that Robert, 33, has had a seizure while playing a video game. In fact, she said she had a second bout while playing “Cyberpunk 2077”, albeit not as severe as the first.

“It’s certainly not all a blinking light,” French said of possible triggers. “It has to be a certain frequency, a certain luminosity. It is more likely to cause a seizure if it covers the entire field of view.”

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To remove the biggest tuning triggers in “Cyberpunk 2077”, Warsaw-based CD Projekt Red spent several days before launch speaking with Ruppert, particularly through text and email. Taking care to ensure her safety, the developers sent her new animation to fix the “brain dance” sequence, and put her in contact with the designers to discuss other areas in the game that needed attention. Robert took her own safety precautions while playing, including having her husband close to her at all times, and taking medications to reduce the risks.

“[CD Projekt Red] He was very quick to say, “Let’s get something up this week. Let’s send you some things, let’s do some round tables and let’s talk with you.” [Epilepsy Foundation,’]”They were very proactive about it,” said Robert.

Shortly after her article about the triggers of seizures was published in “Cyberpunk 2077”, Rupert was subjected to online harassment, particularly from disaffected players who expressed concerns that the attention the article received could lead CD Projekt Red to change his “artistic vision” for the video game. The harassment was so serious that Rupert received GIFs with flashing lights, sent specifically to induce an epileptic seizure. In one case, the sender disguises such a GIF as a message of support.

I don’t think people realize [these safety changes are] As simple as muting the color through a few shades, “Robert said.” Or by using the “brain dance” sequence, we changed it from blink to flash animation instead, which conveyed the same, but slightly different result. “

Although that sequence has changed, with lights flashing at a slower frequency safe for players with epilepsy and photosensitivity, there are still many potentially harmful sequences, according to Ruppert, including a glitch effect on the main menu and other in-game cinematic scenes.

Rupert emphasized that a bout warning early in the game was not enough, as many players could overlook or ignore it. “What I hope is a switch,” she said. “[Independent game developers] You really tend to drive this, as there are options specifically aimed at switching specific animation sequences. “

According to French, the Epilepsy Foundation’s biggest concern is primarily towards individuals who play games who do not yet know they have epilepsy. The ability to switch features, especially if someone starts to feel dizzy or disoriented, can prevent a seizure. French also noted that players can close one eye to prevent a seizure.

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While the Epilepsy Foundation does not have the knowledge to consult at a technical level, its leadership hopes to assist CD Projekt Red and other game developers, through a broader approach.

“Our goal is to educate and convince designers and sellers of these products of the value, first and foremost, of the risk to people with photosensitive epilepsy, and then the value of informing the public about it before a seizure occurs,” said Alison Nicole, Director of the Epilepsy Foundation.

Video game publishers have a certification process that developers must go through to get their games to market, but accessibility isn’t always a standard step.

“I can’t talk about CD Projekt Red specifically, but my general experience is that problems like these arise from a lack of awareness,” said Ian Hamilton, an access counselor who has worked on games like “The Last of Us Part II” and “Fate.” 2 “, he said. “While setting requirements on games is a difficult business, I think there are some things that can be reasonably expected in most games, with light sensitivity being one of them.”

Tools exist to help developers, filmmakers, and creatives identify and remove seizure-causing content from their work as well, including Harding Flash and Pattern Analyzer (FPA). This software automatically identifies harmful photosensitive content and marks it for removal.

“For the sake of widespread adoption – especially with smaller indie developers – the economy and awareness around trigger testing needs to change,” Hamilton said. Game Engine Developers [the coding scaffolding that most games are built around] Really tremendous to help with that. “

A representative for CD Projekt Red said the company will collaborate with organizations in the new year to make Cyberpunk 2077 safer. These partnerships have not been publicly announced, but the Epilepsy Foundation has confirmed that talks will continue with the developer to provide more permanent solutions for the game.

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