Photosensitive Epilepsy in Game And Video

The friends who play the game all know that the opening of some games will have some introduction and matters needing attention. Most players don’t take much more than a glance at these prompts, as they do when they unthinkingly check the “User Guidelines” box. Just like ghost doesn’t crawl out of the computer screen and eat you.It’s just a game. It’s not life-threatening.

user guidelines

Once upon a time, there were many TV viewers who had this idea, and they never knew that patients with a photosensitive disease would have severe epileptic reactions or even life-threatening seizures under certain conditions.It wasn’t until 1997 that a television accident in Japan completely renewed people’s understanding of the disease.

3D Dragon Event

On December 16, 1997, at around 6:30 p.m., the First Season of Pokemon , which began airing in the same year and has become hugely popular in Japan, was scheduled to air episode 38, “Computer Warrior 3D Dragon,” on Thursday.It was broadcast on more than 37 television stations in Japan and tuned into 4.6 million households. At the time, this figure reached the highest ratings of the broadcast time period.

3D dragon

However, when the video showed that the Pikachu destroyed the missile, some viewers began to have blurred vision, headache, dizziness and nausea, and some viewers even experienced severe symptoms such as epilepsy, blindness, convulsions and loss of consciousness.


A total of 685 viewers(most of them children),were reportedly taken to emergency services by ambulance across the country, with more than 150 children later hospitalized. Some viewers have even suffered seizures after watching reruns of news reports. A subsequent survey found that 5-10% of viewers reported experiencing minor discomfort but did not call a medical hotline or seek medical help.


Predisposing Factors

Now let’s take a look at the picture that causes photosensitive Epilepsy, and briefly analyze the characteristics of these pictures and the causes of epilepsy.(It may cause discomfort to some viewers,please watch carefully in a well-lit environment.)


We can see from the above picture, the picture has the following characteristics:First , there is a strong contrast between the alternating colors, and second, the flashing frequency is high, up to 12Hz (or 12 times per second).In addition, another important reason is that animation is broadcast in the alternating time between dawn and dusk, most families have not had time to turn on the light, resulting in indoor darkness, which strengthens the stimulation of the picture for human eyes.


Why to make this kind of like “crazy” flashing picture? In the early animation process, due to the immature technology, the production team would use two quick alternating flashing frames to show the explosion of the picture effect. The plot of the Pokemon is set in a virtual computer world, so the team chose red and blue with a “Cyberpunk” style. By chance, the blinking, contrasting colors, and lack of light in the room all conspired to cause the accident.


Although scientists calculated that only one in 4,000 people could potentially have a severe epileptic reaction, given the large number of people who watched the episode at the time, the number of people who were seriously affected was no longer a small number.

The Result

After such a serious mass incident, Pokemon was taken off the air for five months, only to resume on April 16. Meanwhile, shares in Nintendo, the maker of the Pokemon series, fell 5 per cent the next mornin.(Nintendo later said grievously: our games are black and white, and never caused epilepsy, and we have nothing to do with).


Of course, Pokemon’s mistakes also caused the animation industry to attach importance to photosensitive epilepsy, and all the research began to be well-formed gradually from here. Japanese broadcasters have since issued a series of guidelines to prevent a recurrence of the phenomenon.


In addition, Japanese TV programs have taken the initiative to include screen warnings in programs aimed at young children, encouraging viewers to watch animations in well-lit rooms, stay away from the TV and sit down.

After all that trouble, Pokemon Go hasn’t been down for the count. The team learned a painful lesson from this oversight, and the replay of Pokemon became one of the most rigorously produced and safe animations in the world, continuing the Pokemon craze that has been going on for a quarter century.

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