UK epilepsy charity calls for urgent update to Cyberpunk 2077

By Alan Wen
8 December 2020 16:21 GMT

Epilepsy Action have called on CD Projekt Red to urgently update Cyberpunk 2077 after reports that the game contains content that could trigger epileptic seizures.

The UK charity sent out a press statement shortly after receiving reports alerting to how Cyberpunk 2077 contains images that are “danger zones for epileptics.” This comes from Game Informer’s Lianna Ruppert, who notes that during her time with the game she had suffered “one major seizure and felt several moments where I was close to another one”.

In response, Epilepsy Action’s Louise Cousins says, “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.”

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“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.”

The current review build does not even contain a disclaimer warning when you first boot up the game. More egregious is that the effects that can cause epileptic seizures are prominent in the game’s story, such as  a blue glitch effect used to highlight Johnny Silverhand – played by Keanu Reeves.

The worst of these is linked to the game’s Braindance feature. This mechanic allows you to interact with memories and is a key part in multiple parts of the main story. According to Ruppert, “The headset fits over both eyes and features a rapid onslaught of white and red blinking LEDs, much like the actual device neurologists use in real life to trigger a seizure when they need to trigger one for diagnosis purposes.”

“If not modeled off of the IRL design, it’s a very spot-on coincidence, and because of that this is one aspect that I would personally advise you to avoid altogether.”

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Cousins concludes her statement highlighting, “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. In the worst cases, they can be fatal.”

We’ve reached out to CD Projekt Red to see if they’re doing anything to address the problem. Meanwhile, this also raises questions for how Sony and Microsoft could have failed to overlook these issues when the game was submitted for approval.

Cyberpunk 2077 is out on December 10 on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Stadia. The open-world RPG is already due for a day one patch on top of the 100GB file size of the current game and pre-launch update. Here’s hoping the studio can also include a patch to the game’s epileptic-triggering issues by then.

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