A bug emerged in the Pokemon Go app last week that users feared could cause seizures among some susceptible in the population. The glitch quickly went viral on social media, with some users reaching out directly to the game's developers for a fix. That same day, Niantic announced that it was working on a solution.
Word of this potentially harmful bug first came up on "The Silph Road" — a Reddit community dedicated to Pokemon Go and named after a fictional location in the Pokemon franchise. One user noted that that the latest update caused a "bright white flash" to appear on the screen when they tapped a Pokemon, which wasn't there before. This user said that they had epilepsy and that a flash like this could be dangerous for them. Others chimed in with agreement, calling on Niantic to set this right.
Users reported having pre-seizure symptoms from Pokemon Go as the comments on these posts piled up. Some said that the white flash had given them issues before, but that the new update had simply made it worse. It seems to occur in the transition from the map screen to the encounter screen, and also when the player flees an encounter.
Niantic was quick to respond, issuing a statement to PopCulture.com's sibling site, ComicBook.com. It read: "A recent change in the game altered the transition time between screens. We're working as quickly as possible to correct this issue and expect to publish an app update this week to correct it."
At the time of this writing, the most recent Pokemon Go update in the iOS app store was three days ago, so there may have been a patch applied already. Commenters on Reddit have not yet reached a consensus on this.
Sadly, this is not the Pokemon franchise's first brush with seizure-related issues. The first season of the anime was infamous for its episode "Denno Sensei Porygon," which caused almost 700 hospitalizations in Japan when it first aired. The show took a 4-month hiatus in Japan after that, and the episode never aired conventionally in the U.S.
Pokemon Go remains the most popular augmented reality (AR) mobile game on the market, which new features and virtual events emerging constantly. First released in 2016, it has now grown to include nearly all of the hundreds of Pokemon from throughout the franchise. So far, Niantic has not commented further on the risk of seizure from the game's most recent update.