Pokémon Almost Brought a "Seizure Gun" to the World
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
From the U.S. military, of course
At times we mock video games, particularly those based around war, for their ludicrous ideas and unrealistic scenarios. There's nothing as strange as real life, however, as a report on wired.com has uncovered a U.S. military project from 1998, which was to develop an electromagnetic weapon that would induce seizures in its victims.
The source of this idea came from a broadcast in Japan of a Pokémon cartoon in 1997, where flashing images prompted hundreds of viewers to suffer seizures. The declassified document from the U.S. Army's National Ground Intelligence Center said the following in relation to the incident.
The photic-induced seizure phenomenon was borne out demonstrably on December 16, 1997 on Japanese television when hundreds of viewers of a popular cartoon were treated, inadvertently, to photic seizure induction.
We assume that steps were subsequently taken in Japan to avoid a repeat of the incident, and as far as we know the U.S. Army hasn't been deploying a seizure gun in the real world. Still, with this sort of well-known incident you can guarantee that The Simpsons would use it for a sketch, so you can see their take on it below; if you enjoy Pokémon shows today, fear not, this is unlikely to happen on that scale ever again.