Thursday, 23 May 2024

An Expert’s Guide to Gaming for Those with Epilepsy

Seizures are often associated with epilepsy, but the truth is that they can happen to anyone. Understanding the various triggers can be a complex process since there isn’t a single type of epileptic episode. Fortunately, gaming studios are now recognizing the importance of accessibility in gaming and are taking a closer look at the impact of certain effects on individuals at risk of neurological episodes. As someone who experiences seizures due to an injury from their time in the military, I’ve had to navigate the world of gaming differently. In this guide, I will share insights and tips to help those with epilepsy and their loved ones enjoy gaming safely.

Different Types of Seizures

Epilepsy is a broad term that encompasses various neurological conditions. Each person’s experience with epilepsy is unique, and triggers can differ as well. Here is an overview of the different types of epilepsy and their associated symptoms:

  • Generalized epilepsy: Seizures occur on both sides of the brain and can cause a loss of body control and consciousness (Grand Mal seizures) or a “zoning out” state with facial tweaks (Petit Mal seizures).
  • Focal epilepsy: Seizures focus on one part of the brain and can be categorized into focal aware, focal-impaired awareness, focal motor, and focal non-motor seizures.
  • Generalized and focal epilepsy: Some individuals experience a combination of both types.
  • Unknown: Some seizures occur without a discernible trigger or pattern.

Triggers for seizures can vary, but common irritants include sleep deprivation, specific hours of the day, illness, stress, flashing lights, alcohol/drug consumption, hormonal shifts, and certain medications. Understanding your specific triggers is crucial for managing epilepsy and enjoying gaming safely.

Tips for Gaming with Epilepsy

While there are no foolproof guidelines for preventing seizures, there are strategies you can implement to minimize risks while gaming:

  • Sit at least two feet away from the screen, if possible.
  • Keep your gaming area well lit to reduce the impact of flashing lights.
  • Dim the screen’s brightness.
  • Consider investing in a monitor or TV screen with Eye-Saver Mode or glare guards to eliminate blue light.
  • Avoid playing games when extremely exhausted.
  • Take regular breaks to rest your eyes and monitor how you’re feeling.
  • In extreme instances, alternate covering one eye or switch eyes periodically.
  • If possible, avoid playing games when you’re alone at home and have a plan in place with a trusted friend or neighbor.
  • Experiment with in-game settings, such as disabling motion blur or choosing alternative game modes that minimize flickering effects.

These tips can help reduce the risk of triggering seizures and create a safer gaming environment.

Understanding the Impact of Video Games

While video games can trigger epileptic episodes, they do not cause epilepsy itself. The risk of having a seizure while playing games is relatively low, with only a small percentage of the population exhibiting photosensitive seizures. Children are more susceptible than adults, but overall, the impact is minimal. However, game studios can make changes to ensure safer gaming experiences. Sometimes, these changes are so subtle that players may not even notice them unless informed. Acknowledging the potential risks and addressing them can make gaming accessible to more people.

Embracing Accessibility in Gaming

Gaming companies like Xbox are actively working to make games more accessible. They collaborate with members of the disability community to develop guidelines and best practices for inclusive design. For example, Xbox has created the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs), which provide developers with recommendations for creating games that minimize the risk of triggering seizures. Additionally, they actively seek feedback from individuals with disabilities to improve their products and services.

With the advancements in accessibility, more players can enjoy the world of gaming. If you have any questions or concerns about gaming with epilepsy, feel free to leave a comment below. I also recommend checking out the Epilepsy Foundation of America for further information and resources on epilepsy.

FAQs

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Conclusion

By understanding the triggers and adopting safe gaming practices, individuals with epilepsy can enjoy gaming without compromising their health. Game studios are increasingly recognizing the importance of accessibility and taking steps to create games that are safer for everyone. With the right knowledge and precautions, gaming can be an inclusive and enjoyable experience for all.