John Libbey Eurotext

Video games are exciting: a European study of video game-induced seizures and epilepsy. [Published with videosequences]. Volume 4, issue 2, June 2002


  • Video games are exciting: a European study of video game-induced seizures and epilepsy


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Department of Neurology, Medical Centre Alkmaar, PO Box 501, 1800 AM, The Netherlands.

Background: Video game seizures have been reported in photosensitive and non-photosensitive patients with epilepsy. The game Super Mario World, has led to many cases of first seizures. We examined whether this game was indeed more provocative than other programs and whether playing the game added to this effect. Methods: We prospectively investigated 352 patients in four European cities, using a standard protocol including testing of a variety of visual stimuli. We correlated historical data on provocative factors in daily life with electroencephalographic laboratory findings. Results: The video game, Super Mario World proved more epileptogenic than standard TV programs and as provocative as programs with flashing lights and patterns. Most striking was the fact that video game-viewing and-playing on the 50 and 100 Hz TV was significantly more provocative than viewing the standard program (P < 0.001, P < 0.05 respectively). Playing the video game Mario World on a 50 Hz TV, appeared to be significantly more provocative than playing this game on the 100 Hz TV (P < 0.001). Of 163 patients with a history of TV-, VG- or CG-seizures, 85% of them showed epileptiform discharges in response to photic stimulation, 44% to patterns, 59% to 50 Hz TV and 29% to 100 Hz TV. Conclusions: Children and adolescents with a history of video game seizures are, in the vast majority, photosensitive and should be investigated with standardised photic stimulation. Games and programs with bright background or flashing images are specifically provocative. Playing a video game on a 100 Hz TV is less provocative [published with videosequences].