Tekken 8 promises to change accessibility options after potentially dangerous filters that ‘may hospitalise players’ were discovered

Tekken 8 director Katushiro Harada has revealed that changes to the game’s accessibility features are coming for the full game after concerns began circulating in early January around potentially life-threatening seizures relating to its colour and mask filters.

In late December, a since-deleted viral tweet began circulating demonstrating one of Tekken 8’s potential accessibility filter combinations: black-and-white striped characters paired with an almost entirely white background. While the original tweet was positive, further quote retweets and discussion pointed out that the specific combination demonstrated could do more harm than good to some folk with photosensitivity. 

Accessibility specialist Ian Hamilton had tweeted at Harada, saying “You urgently need to remove one of your filters (the striped one), it can be present at launch as it may hospitalise players (or worse), in the same way as the infamous Pokémon episode.” Morgan Baker, who is EA’s accessibility lead, followed up by saying the filter had “induced an aura migraine” by looking at it.

While it’s worth noting that the offending filter took several steps and tweaking to reach the level of intensity it was presented at throughout the viral tweet and discussions, the dangers were still very real. Harada originally addressed the issue back when it was first circulating, saying that “a few people, albeit very few, have either misunderstood the accessibility options we are trying, or have only seen the video without actually trying them out in demo play.”

He continued by saying that colour vision options “are a rare part of the fighting game genre, but they are still being researched and we intend to expand on them in the future,” adding that the team had been working with “several research institutes and communities to develop this option.” 

Well, it looks like “the future” is gonna be pretty soon. During the Tekken Talk Live that took place during the Tekken World Tour 2023 Finals earlier this month, speaking through producer and translator Michael Murray, Harada told fans: “Many people have been talking about the accessibility features in the demo for Tekken 8. Actually that was just a work in progress, so we’ve actually tweaked that quite a bit to try to address some of the issues and to make sure it works better for a wider variety of people.”

That’s a change that won’t just be coming to the full release, but also to the demo sometime in the near future. It wasn’t actually specified if the accessibility changes will be ready for when the game launches on January 26, or whether we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see them in place. 

Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction. Developers are still navigating accessibility in games, and while things are a lot better than they have been in recent years, there’s still a long way to go. At the very least, making sure your choices don’t potentially give people seizures and migraines is a good place to start.

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