Riot Games have apologised after part of a new League Of Legends event proved a problem for some players with photosensitive epilepsy, more than most of the game usually is. Riot say they had considered an option to disable the flashy animations which risk triggering seizures in some photosensitive players but they were short on time so, with a choice between launching without the option or not launching the feature, they went ahead. Which is unfortunate for players who are suddenly finding LoL a risk when it wasn’t before. Riot say they’ll try to do better if they run this again.
The problem is part of the Mid-Season Trials event, where players can complete in-game tasks to earn points for their ‘house’ and nab some loot. On-screen animations for these, player “Apricot Princess” said on the LoL forums yesterday, “are a huge issue for photosensitive epilepsy and cannot be turned off nor the effects turned down.”
Apricot Princess explains that the game is fine normally, as its few overly-flashy characters can be banned during picking, but these animations are a problem for someone who was previously happily playing.
Riot designer Justin “Xenogenic” Hanson swept in to say “let me apologise for these effects causing issues, and for not having a toggle for them in this event.” He explained that these ‘finishers’ are handled in a new way “and as such, we didn’t have the time or bandwidth to have engineers rework this so that a toggle could ship with the finishers.”
They were actually aware it might be a problem. Hanson said, “We chatted about it at-length and ultimately decided we would rather ship them with no toggle than not ship them because we couldn’t do a toggle, but we knew there would be some level of frustration and risk with that.” It’s rare for developers to say they considered a risk to player health then decided ah what the hell.
Perhaps digging himself deeper, Hanson continued to say “we had many conversations about it and multiple meetings about it, and we decided in the end that even though we did not have the time/resources to ship with a toggle, we wanted to get finishers and spawn ceremonies into the competition. It was either ship without a toggle or don’t ship it at all, and we felt that bringing them to the competition was better despite not having a toggle than not shipping them at all.”
Should they do this again, he said, “we should have had the time by then to build a toggle for the content type so anyone that doesn’t want them on can disable them.”
Having a quick reccy, I’ve seen photosensitive players report suffering seizures from certain modes and animations before. Apricot Princess reports raising issues with the game’s support team before but ultimately being told it wasn’t enough of a priority.
Some video games will always be a bigger threat to photosensitive players than others, but it’s a shame when a game which was once safe adds an unavoidable risk.