Epilepsy breakthrough on videogames

PUBLISHED: 17:01 08 December 2008 | UPDATED: 09:48 25 May 2010

VIDEOGAME manufacturers are being urged to accept a new code of practice after a youngster in Winscombe had an epileptic fit while playing on PCs or consoles.

VIDEOGAME manufacturers are being urged to accept a new code of practice after a youngster in Winscombe had an epileptic fit while playing on PCs or consoles.

Gaye Herford's 10-year-old son suffered a seizure because he had undiagnosed photosensitive epilepsy.

The youngster's family spoke to Weston MP John Penrose who last year started a campaign to force videogame makers to adopt similar guidelines as TV.

Mr Penrose wrote to the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) which has now advised its members to pre-check their games before release to ensure they will not trigger seizures.

The MP also staged a Parliamentary debate on the subject where he persuaded Government minister Margaret Hodge to approach ELSPA.

Mr Penrose's campaign also received backing from Professor Graham Harding, a leading authority on photosensitive epilepsy, who helped the TV industry to adopt its own guidelines on the subject.

Prof Harding says the illness affects 1 in 4,000 people, but those aged between seven and 19 are most at risk.

People who suffer from the condition do not know they have it until they have an attack.

Mr Penrose said: "I'm delighted ELSPA has listened to the scientific evidence and is responding to public concern in a responsible and constructive way.

Many parents will have been shocked to discover a single game can trigger such a serious condition.

"TV broadcasts are already screened in exactly this way so there is no reason why the same approach shouldn't apply to computer and video games.

"The technology already exists and some responsible game manufacturers, such as Ubisoft, already use it to check their games.

"But there are many manufacturers who do not and this leaves children and teenagers at risk.

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