Lawyer Sues Over "Seizure Triggers" in Videogames

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Lawyer Sues Over "Seizure Triggers" in Videogames

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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 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, 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

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...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_Oracle:
...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.

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.

He's never read the inside page of a game's manual, has he?

Starke:

The_Oracle:
...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.

The television show Full House used to make me vomit, do I have grounds to sue Buena Vista Productions?

Games have seizure warnings. Aren't they required by law anyway?

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.

dekkarax:
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.

Starke:

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.

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?

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 as "Ambulance Chaser".

Kross:
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.

After suing video games for triggering seizures, the genius should look into suing films, television shows, and lightning storms.

video games but not movies? video games seem to be the new oil companies, blame them for all your problems

Video games have seizure warnings. Lawsuit = fail.

Its a good reason, but I don't think he should be suing the entire industry. But yeah, if you think you're going to have a seizure, don't play games. Nature has less flashing lights.

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.

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.

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.

Im sorry, but I have/had [its in recession? haven't had a seizure since 8th grade] epilepsy, and I have never had a seizure from playing games [and yes, I did watch pokemon during the 90's, and no, I still didnt have seizures from those either.]

Im not saying videogames wont cause them [photosensitive versions of epilepsy], but really? suing a videogame company for not fixing a health issue? even after every, every, EVERY game has the warning on its manual saying take a 15 minute break for every hour of gameplay?

In that case Im going to sue the Ford Motor Company for attempting to make me obese by allowing me to drive my Taurus to fast food restaurants.

Also, Depakote does wonders for epilepsy, I blame the parents.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depakote

don't the video game manuals clearly state to see a doctor before playing video games if you have history of seizures and the like?

edit: also it's funny how this started from a four year old buy getting a seizure but it's for children 5-18 ironic isn't it?

This lawsuit has prompted me to sue book publishers, producers & authors for not doing enough to mitigate the risk of readers suffering papercuts

I thought this was a rant on quick time events. Bu dum tish.

I can appreciate and understand what he's doing. Some companies use the seizure warning at the front of the manual as a free pass to have no limit on the colors flashing all over games. Some developers do go through a seizure test. Not all do.

Coincidentally enough, I had a seizure when I played the first Spyro, followed by excessive vomiting and a migraine that lasted me three days. It only took a few minutes for it to happen. Most of the reason was the pretty colors, some of it had to do with the controls and camera. I have a feeling that the people that made the Spyro games (or at least the original series, since I haven't had any problems with the "Legend of Spyro" series) probably haven't improved and didn't do the seizure test, that they hid behind the seizure label instead.

The fact that the old Spyro games were targeted doesn't surprise me whatsoever. And if they become a base, an example, that developers should take the seizure thing slightly more seriously, I think that's a good thing.

On another topic, doesn't this article remind anyone of the one Pokemon episode that sent tons of kids on the land of the rising sun into seizures? Good times.

odubya23:
The television show Full House used to make me vomit, do I have grounds to sue Buena Vista Productions?

I had much the same reaction. I think we have a suit going.

OT/ No but this just a money grab by a lawyer who dosen't know what he is geting himself into. We will make him look stupid this time but if he pushes we will make him look like Jack.

"Without federal legislation to compel the video game companies to take action, we have no choice but to litigate on behalf of the victims."

Translation: "Because the government doesn't have legislation in place and its been a slow year at my law firm, I needed to find something both actionable and headline-grabbing to blow out of proportion and turn into a litigous side show in order to squeeze some money out of video game manufacturers and get my name all over the internet."

Fuck you, Kenny. Fuck you right in your ear.

This is just another asinine money grab by some fucking lawyer looking for a spotlight and nothing more. Strobelights cause seizures, anybody suing manufacturers of them? A dripping faucet can bring on seizures, does anyone sue the manufacturers of those? There are so many different triggers for so many different kinds of seizures, this asshole just wants to get famous under the guise of "Champion of the children and the oppressed!" (With one hell of a contingency fee.) (EDIT) Besides, didn't someone already mention the "Health Warnings" on the FIRST PAGE of every game manual? That alone should stop this ridiculous suit in its tracks. (End EDIT)

I think I'm gonna be sick.

Kross:
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 as "Ambulance Chaser".

Totally. Though I'm amused by him being called Kenny, it brings all the South Park jokes back though.

Saying they're responsible for epilepsy is stupid though. Epileptic fits can be set off by any strobing light, temperature change or low blood sugar level.

It's like blaming lift(elevator) makers for the suffering they cause claustrophobic.

Personally, I'd steer well clear of Depakote though.

DamienHell:
Video games have seizure warnings. Lawsuit = fail.

what he said. and is it just me, or am i seeing more and more people going after video games for stupid reasons? one example being people blaming violent video games for violent behavior, etc.

So he's sure it's the game caused the seizure. Not the screen refresh rate, external lighting, spontaneous triggering, impact (4 year old boy, brother, they'd never hit each other would they...).

I can see this getting thrown out unless he's got some very, very compelling evidence. Given that Sony has enough lawyers to storm Belgium (probably) and millions of people aren't collapsing in seizures.

It would be good to know if the boy is epileptic, or if the lawyer intends to try the angle of the game making the boy epileptic, which would be hilarious.

fix-the-spade:
(Snipped for space)

It would be good to know if the boy is epileptic, or if the lawyer intends to try the angle of the game making the boy epileptic, which would be hilarious.

HA! I was going to touch on this in my post but you beat me to it, you raise some very good points my friend. I think this whole lawsuit is already dead in the water, just based on the opinions and quick thinking of The Escapist's hordes of gamers and free thinkers... We all know what this is really about.

I wonder if they're also suing strobe light manufacturers :P

I dunno if it's still the case with Nintendo, but the Gamecube was notorious about it's safety warnings. They were at the start of every game, plus included an insert in every box.

Nimbus:
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.

pretty much this

Oh, here we go then.

Interesting that their site lists them as being "Video Game Seizure Lawyers". Surely with such a speciality, they will have extensive knowledge of video games as well as photosensitive seizures?

Also, just noticed what seems to me to be some humerous wording on the site:

The threat of suffering a seizure as a result of playing a video game may be very real for 90,000 American children. Attorneys at Kenny & Kenny, PLLC have made it their business to fight to secure adequate compensation for victims and their families. This may include a lifetime of:

* Medical bills
* Lost job opportunities
* Pain and suffering
* Mental and physical complications.

It's good to know, that if you win the case, you are in line for an extended period of unemployment, along with the potential for an incredible amount of pain and suffering. Where do I sign up?

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