Lawyer Sues Over "Seizure Triggers" in Videogames

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
45,698
0
0
Lawyer Sues Over "Seizure Triggers" in Videogames


An attorney in the U.S. is looking for people with children who have suffered seizures as a result of playing videogames, apparently to take part in a planned class action lawsuit against the industry for its failure to "fix" the problem of seizures caused by gaming.

Personal injury attorney Michael P. Kenny of Kenny & Kenny originally filed suit against Sony and Vivendi in 2007 over claims that "seizure triggers" in the 2002 game Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyro:_Enter_the_Dragonfly] caused a seizure in a four-year-old boy who was watching his brother play the game. The lawsuit is just now entering the discovery phase.

"The videogame companies know there is a problem, and they choose not to fix it," Kenny said in a press release. "The videogames seizures have a cause, and the manufacturers choose not to correct it." Saying that he intends to represent victims of videogame-induced seizures across the U.S., he added, "Without federal legislation to compel the video game companies to take action, we have no choice but to litigate on behalf of the victims."

To that end, Kenny has put up a site at videogameseizures.com [http://www.videogameseizures.com/], seeking parents of children aged five to 18 who may have been the victims of gaming-induced seizures. "Your child may already be suffering the ill effects of video gaming," the site says. "Players may experience small lapses in consciousness, excessive blinking, eye twitches, and other symptoms, all the way up to grand mal seizures associated with full-blown epilepsy." In a television-style advertisement on the site, the attorney goes so far as to claim that the videogame industry's "dirty secret" can even result in death.

Television broadcasters in the U.K. use the Harding Flash and Pattern Analyzer to look for "seizure-inducing light movement" in television broadcasts, Kenny said, and the U.S. government has a limit the number of flashes per second in the warning strobe lights in government facilities. "Yet videogame manufacturers have not taken the same steps to protect our children at play," he claimed.

I'm not sure how the fact that most, if not all, videogames already carry warnings about the possibility of seizures will affect Kenny's planned suit; it's unclear whether he's seeking clearer warnings about the potential for seizures or an elimination of all potential seizure triggers from videogames before they're released. Whichever it is, I'm sure that hefty sums of money will also figure prominently; along with Sony and Vivendi, Kenny is suing the retailer who originally distributed the "defective product."

Source: GamePolitics [http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/11/03/attorney-soliciting-video-game-seizure-cases]


Permalink
 

IrrelevantTangent

New member
Oct 4, 2008
2,424
0
0
...I'm not quite sure how to feel about this, honestly. On one hand, we don't need more lawyers running around suing video game companies for silly reasons, but this lawyer's reason seems somewhat legit.

More investigation may be required if we're going to find out whether this man's our friend or foe, and whether or not these seizures are common enough to reinforce his case.
 

Starke

New member
Mar 6, 2008
3,877
0
0
The_Oracle said:
...I'm not quite sure how to feel about this, honestly. On one hand, we don't need more lawyers running around suing video game companies for silly reasons, but this lawyer's reason seems somewhat legit.

More investigation may be required if we're going to find out whether this man's our friend or foe, and whether or not these seizures are common enough to reinforce his case.
The catch is, most games today do carry a siezure warning, if he's targeting titles from 7 years ago? I don't remember, honestly, if they had warnings back then.

I'm inclined to think that these incidents aren't really that common, but we'll find out soon enough, I guess.

EDIT: Thanks to everyone who reminded me. The epilepsy warnings go back to the NES days, so, yup, he's good and f---ed.
 

Nimbus

Token Irish Guy
Oct 22, 2008
2,162
0
0
This is really, really, really stupid. You don't sue florists when you get an allergic reaction.

Videogames=(Moving Pictures + Flashing Lights)=Epileptic reations

God, this is so stupid.
 

dekkarax

New member
Apr 3, 2008
1,213
0
0
He's never read the inside page of a game's manual, has he?
Starke said:
The_Oracle said:
...I'm not quite sure how to feel about this, honestly. On one hand, we don't need more lawyers running around suing video game companies for silly reasons, but this lawyer's reason seems somewhat legit.

More investigation may be required if we're going to find out whether this man's our friend or foe, and whether or not these seizures are common enough to reinforce his case.
The catch is, most games today do carry a siezure warning, if he's targeting titles from 7 years ago? I don't remember, honestly, if they had warnings back then.

I'm inclined to think that these incidents aren't really that common, but we'll find out soon enough, I guess.
They've had them for a long time.
 

SaintWaldo

Interzone Vagabond
Jun 10, 2008
923
0
0
I do know that in the past 2 years, at least one game has had publishing delays SPECIFICALLY because the game couldn't pass Harding Flash seizure testing. That game was the PSN download WipeoutHD. It was delayed for at least a month while they got the "Zone Mode" toned down enough to not trigger the detectors. The game still makes my head warm and my throat dry, but at least I don't clear the coffee table while playing, and I appreciate that.

So, an assertion that the companies don't care about testing or do not take the same steps to prevent seizures as other industries is easily proven false. The warning labels alone tend to indemnify. The actual provable existence of anti-seizure testing probably only hurt his case. IMO and IANAL, of course.
 

IxionIndustries

New member
Mar 18, 2009
2,238
0
0
dekkarax said:
He's never read the inside page of a game's manual, has he?
Or even the back of a fucking video game box.

The warnings are on there, and to be honest, that's really all they can do.

I'm not too sure on this, but aren't epileptic seizures caused by a wide number of things? I mean, there is no one particular thing that triggers them, so in order for game makers to "stop" inducing seizures is to stop making games altogether.
 

SaintWaldo

Interzone Vagabond
Jun 10, 2008
923
0
0
Starke said:
The catch is, most games today do carry a seizure warning, if he's targeting titles from 7 years ago? I don't remember, honestly, if they had warnings back then.
I just pulled my original Final Fantasy Tactics disc, published in the late 90s, and opened the manual to the first page. At the very top of the first page are these words:

"A very small percentage of individuals may experience epileptic seizures..."

It then goes on to tell people that if the game makes them feel funny, they should turn it off and if it persists, seek medical help. That's indemnification folks. IIRC they've been warning about seizures on video games since the original NES.
 

Zetsubou

New member
Sep 14, 2009
497
0
0
Most video games in the 21st century carry seizure warnings, this guy's case likely will not go very far if the big wigs get involved. Although I'm not quite sure who he's suing.... the people who make Spiro?
 

Kross

World Breaker
Sep 27, 2004
854
0
0
I still remember seeing seizure warnings on ALL my old NES instruction books. They've been on this for a long time, and class action lawsuits like this benefit nobody but the lawyer.

I generally read personal injury lawyers [http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=jim the hammer shapiro] as "Ambulance Chaser".
 

Johnn Johnston

New member
May 4, 2008
2,519
0
0
Kross said:
I still remember seeing seizure warnings on ALL my old NES instruction books. They've been on this for a long time, and class action lawsuits like this benefit nobody but the lawyer.
If he's a no-win no-fee lawyer, he won't even benefit at all. Due to the warnings carried by video games, I can't see his platform holding any weight in court.
 

Aqualung

New member
Mar 11, 2009
2,946
0
0
After suing video games for triggering seizures, the genius should look into suing films, television shows, and lightning storms.
 

Ph33nix

New member
Jul 13, 2009
1,243
0
0
video games but not movies? video games seem to be the new oil companies, blame them for all your problems
 

Therumancer

Citation Needed
Nov 28, 2007
9,909
0
0
Hmmm, well it sounds like he's sueing anyone in the industry that he can. Simply put anything that creates sequences of lights can in theory induce seizures, with a liberal interpetation of the law you could pretty much sue any visual art form.

Basically if this guy succeeds, he's got a gravy train of nearly endless lulz and piles of money. Probably not caring what happenes to technology and the majority of people as a result as long as he gets paid.

There is however some truth to his claims, and honestly he could make a case for pretty much anyone being involved down to the hardware manufacturers for producing television in general.

It's spiritually similar to the whole "killer Pokemon" scare of years back where some of the light patterns caused several hundred Japanese kids to die from seizures accidently.

Incidently while some people are far more vulnerable than others (and some have argued specific ethnicities are more vulnerable than others as well), in theory you can put anyone into a seizure with the right pattern of lights. There has been research into the idea of using "blinkers" and "seizure strobes" as military and/or crowd control weapons, as well as the theoretical use this information for "Total War". We in the US would never have the guts, but the idea is basically that if we wanted to take out China (for example) we could break into their national TV networks via satellites/electronic warfare and send out light patterns that would cause everyone watching TV to die. "Be ready for an Emergency broadcast about the war with the United States"... BAM! dead.

A lot of science fiction has also been written on a similar (if differant) theory of using sounds to induce disorientation and hallucinations on a massive scale. A few horror books and such have featured the concept of people being driven mad, or outright mind controlled via subliminal signals someone broadcasts through their cell phones... it has some pseudo-scientific validity as a theory though not as effective as fantasy has made it.
 

Andronicus

Terror Australis
Mar 25, 2009
1,846
0
0
Are they sure it was the flashing lights, and not the really crap gameplay, writing and graphics that caused the kid to have a seizure?

As it's been said, there are warning labels on all games, and have been for some time. They may not be as prominent as they could be, but they're there, and if the child in question has a history of epilepsy they, and also their parents, especially their parents, should be taking proper notice of things like this.
 

SMOKEMNHALO2001

New member
Sep 10, 2008
245
0
0
People can not be this stupid, right? Now I dislike Lawyers more than ever, weren't they supposed to be the smart ones who just sued because they could?
This jerk didn't even read the back of the box or even inside the manual, they warn against this stuff, some games even show them before you play a game.
It's called reading! Most parents who will follow this guy probably can't read anyway, these are the same idiotic parents who blame M rated games because "They didn't understand or know about the ratings and game content."
We should just set up a system that teaches parents about....oh wait that didn't work either.