The gaming space has made major strides in recent years when it comes to accessibility, but there is still more work to be done. This work can be done without negatively impacting the gaming experience, but knowing how to do so is the first step. As someone that experiences seizures following an injury I received back when I was active duty, my entire worldview shifted and suddenly I saw entertainment in a different light. Games, movies, TV? All suddenly had this level of danger I was previously unaware of. You don’t even need to have epilepsy to experience a seizure if the trigger is aggressive enough. That’s why I was so pleased, so grateful when I saw the latest developer update from Bungie about a game I play religiously: Destiny 2. Following a few epileptic PSAs highlighting what are triggers so that Guardians can avoid them while still playing, the team at Bungie added in a new warning screen at sign-in while also detailing more changes going on behind the scenes to make this space adventure a little safer for all.
In the most recent blog post from Bungie, the studio acknowledged recent reports about Destiny 2 and possible epileptic triggers. In addition to the in-game notice added this week, Bungie also added more details to its EULA (End User License Agreement) and a plan of action for future updates:
“We’re getting started by looking into player reports and addressing issues related to specific effect combinations. Due to the complex nature of these changes, we are targeting a patch for later this year. We’ll let players know when we have more to share. We plan to use the knowledge from these fixes to refine our best practices moving forward.”
As I do in all of my epileptic PSAs, I want to reiterate something from my previous epileptic coverage. You do not have to be epileptic to have a seizure. The people in your home do not have to be epileptic to have a seizure. As noted in my Epileptic’s Guide to Gaming, a common misconception about seizures is that they only happen to people with epilepsy. That’s not true; seizures can occur in anyone. There is also no “one type” of an epileptic episode, which means learning about triggers can be a tricky process. With accessibility in gaming becoming more of a priority, studios are finally beginning to look at the impact of certain effects on those susceptible to neurological episodes beyond simply slapping a warning label on games and calling it a day.
This type of coverage is not me telling you not to play. This is not me dragging Bungie through the mud. This guide is simply a way to make the developers aware AND to ensure that you can play the games you want to play safely. Gaming is for everyone and each new learning experience is one more step towards that statement ringing truer than it ever has in the past.
It’s important to remember that triggers come from a variety of places. For me, flashing lights at a certain rate can almost guarantee a seizure. This is something most photo-sensitive epileptics have to be aware of. While sometimes seizures can occur with no discernable trigger, a few common irritants are known that are good to be aware of:
- Sleep deprivation
- Specific hours of the day
- When you’re ill or have a fever
- Flashing lights at a certain rate, speed, and color (most commonly red and white)
- Alcohol or excessive drug consumption
- Women can sometimes be more susceptible with their menstrual cycle
- Diet restrictions or drastic changes in diet
- Certain medications
- Heat or extreme cold
- Hormone shifts
- Excess caffeine
A few tips (with the full breakdown in our previously linked guide):
- Sit at least two feet away from the screen, if possible
- Try to keep your gaming area well-lit to reduce the impact of flashing lights as the sole focus
- Dim your screen’s brightness
- Invest in a monitor/TV screen that offers an Eye-Saver Mode. This will eliminate blue light, which has helped me with red and white flashing
- Some monitors offer glare guards and flicker-free settings
- “Gamer glasses” like from Gunnar also help as well, especially if an eye-saving mode monitor isn’t available at this time
- Try not to play a game if you’re in a state of extreme exhaustion
- Don’t forget to take breaks, often
- Pay attention to how you’re feeling
- If you start to feel “off,” don’t ignore that. Identify what triggered that change in feeling and take a moment to step away
- In extreme instances (for games like Cyberpunk 2077), you can also alternate covering one eye over the other and switching off periodically
- This is especially helpful for focal epileptics
- Try not to play anything when you are home alone, if possible
- If you live alone, have a plan in place with a close friend or neighbor should you need help
- Play around with in-game settings
- Disable motion-blur, if applicable
- Some games, especially indies, will offer alternative game modes that dim flickering effects in games (ie., glitch effects, “hacking” effects, etc.)
For more possible seizure triggers to be aware of in Destiny 2, check out our in-depth dive for Season of the Splicer. You can also check out my general Epileptic Guide to Gaming here for more triggers, how to spot them, and what to do.
I also just want to take a moment to thank Bungie for being proactive on this. As a player, being heard about things like this means more than I can ever express. I do my best to keep my coverage informative and less about control, so to see studios take the initiative means the world. So, thank you. And thank you to our readers that share and support my continued coverage in this area. You’re everything to me.