Cyberpunk 2077 “Braindances” trigger epileptic seizures – CD Projekt Red promise more warnings & update [Updated]

Cyberpunk 2077 has been getting plaudits left, right and centre from reviewers (on PC), but Game Informer Associate Editor Liana Ruppert has highlighted a very serious issue for those with photosensitive epilepsy. UK charity Epilepsy Action has now called for developer CD Projekt Red to issue an update for the game as a matter of public safety.

UPDATE 19:30 GMT: CDPR have now responded. “We’re working on adding a separate warning in the game, aside from the one that exists in the EULA,” they say. “Regarding a more permanent solution, Dev team is currently exploring that and will be implementing it as soon as possible.”

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While many games feature disclaimers and warnings when they load up, highlighting that they may contain flashing imagery, Cyberpunk 2077 seems to be a game that could be especially triggering for epileptics. It’s something to bear in mind when playing, but also something that game streamers need to be aware of.

On a base level, the game’s visuals and cyberpunk vision of the future are heavily influenced by visual glitches. The character Johnny Silverhand is often surrounded by a blue flickering glitch effect, the game’s menus and computer interface features red glitching animations (which are a particular trigger), and there are plenty of clubs and bars that feature strobing and flashing lights.

Ruppert explains that these moments can be managed through the use of TV and computer monitor colour adjustments, but one particular effect cannot: the Braindance.

This gameplay mechanic sees V given a headset that allows them to step into recorded memories of other. The in-game headset covers the view and then rapidly flashes white and red LEDs. This is an effect that neurologists use in real life to trigger seizures, and seems to have been mimicked for the game. It is a direct trigger that actually caught Ruppert unaware and caused her to have a seizure while playing the game to assist in Game Informer’s review. That’s furthered by Braindances then featuring a lot of overlapping, glitchy effects that, as explained above, can be triggering in their own right.

As of now, CD Projekt Red have not responded about the issue, but the charity Epilepsy Action has called for an update to the game. CDPR could do a lot to lessen the glitchiness of the visual effects through the user interface, but the most important point would be to remove the flashing LED effects when entering a Braindance.

In a press release, Louise Cousins, Epilepsy Action’s director of external affairs, said:

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.  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.

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. Seizures can cause injury and impact on things like driving, employment and education. In the worst cases, they can be fatal. For further information, visit https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/photosensitive-epilepsy.

Hopefully CDPR will be able to respond and react to this issue in the coming days. Cyberpunk 2077 is out on 10th December for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Stadia, with support for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S via backward compatibility.

Source: Game Informer, press release

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1 Comment

  1. Deciding to include a full screen effect that is designed to trigger seizures is such a bizarre and arguably irresponsible move. I hope CDPR remove it completely, no amount of warnings will do.

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