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Expert warns Nintendo games may cause seizures in photosensitive children

5 May, 2004

A leading expert
on photosensitive epilepsy has discovered that four Nintendo computer
games contain flashing repetitive light sequences which may trigger
epileptic seizures in photosensitive children.

Professor Graham Harding, former director of the Neurosciences Research Institute at Aston University,
is now calling for warnings to be printed on the packaging of these
games and for safety guidelines to be brought in to the video game
industry similar to those used in the broadcasting industry.

The
games 'Mega Man X', 'Super Mario Sunshine', 'Metroid Prime' and 'Mario
Kart: Double Dash' all contain light patterns which could cause a
seizure in approximately one in 4,000 people but are still on sale in
Britain and throughout the world. People aged between seven and twenty
are five times more at risk than the rest of the population, and three
quarters of patients will remain photosensitive for life.

Professor Harding explained:

'If
a person has photosensitive epilepsy, which is diagnosed after one
seizure, they need to avoid any flickering light situation such as
discotheques and certain theme park rides. While watching television or
playing video games they must sit more than two metres away from the
screen in a well lit room and should not approach the set.

'If
people take these precautions and still experience seizures then
medication may be administered. Sudden death from epilepsy is a known
fact and cannot be ruled out, but it has not yet occurred in the case
of a patient suffering from photosensitive epilepsy to my knowledge.'

A
recent BBC Three documentary ‘Outrageous Fortunes' claimed to have
evidence that Nintendo knew that some of its games could trigger
seizures in some children and chose not to remove the provocative
sections from the games, a claim that Nintendo has described as
"ridiculous".