In short – deprive yourself of sleep, stop eating, and play lots of computer games in a darkened room. You don’t even need to be epileptic to do this. Some years ago, at the age of fifteen, I had an epileptic fit, in my bedroom, on Christmas fucking Day. How’s that for being born under a bad sign?

I should add that I’m not epileptic, and had only ever had one seizure before, as a baby – this, I’m told, was largely induced by a very severe fever, a very hot day, and damn bad luck, though I can remember nothing about it. Then and now, I’m not on anti-epilepsy drugs of any kind.

This particular day – since I’d not had any kind of epileptic fit for fourteen years – I wasn’t anticipating any kind of seizure. Even so, I was very stupid indeed. I’d woken up at three A.M. that morning, because it was Christmas, and I was very excited (and pretty regressive, to be honest. I still play with Lego...). My Christmas presents that year were the copies of the newly released Zelda and Turok 2* on the N64, and I must have played the games for six or seven hours that day. Plus, I missed breakfast, and was playing in my bedroom with the curtains closed and the lights off. Asking for trouble, really.

The last thing I can remember is the strangely hypnotic flashing of some heavy weapon or other in Turok, and a sensation of falling. I was found by my mother on the floor, blood coming out of my mouth, twitching. Pretty frightening experience for anyone, though it looked much worse than it was – in the end I suffered no permanent injury. Or at least, if I suffered brain damage, no-one noticed...

My parents called for an ambulance, and here I get another half memory – waking up for a second in an ambulance, and being given oxygen, which at the time was the most beautiful thing I’d ever experienced – cool, flowing, refreshing oxygen, reviving me, and quelling my nausea. My next proper memory is waking up in hospital with the worst headache I’d ever had and a massive sense of nausea. I’d also bitten off a piece of my tongue in my convulsions (hence the blood), though thankfully this has since healed.

My parents promptly forbade me from ever playing computer games again. This edict officially lasted for several months, but unfortunately, my teenage obsession with computer games led to me playing them again in a couple of days. Still, for the next six months or so, my parents insisted that I wear an eye-patch while playing computer games. They claimed that this would reduce the danger, but I still think they were hoping to create a Pavlovian association in my mind between looking really stupid and playing computer games.

So, basically, my advice to everyone is the same as that printed on the first page of game manuals – even if you’ve never had a seizure of any kind before, take regular breaks, grab something to eat every now and again, avoid playing when overly stressed or tired, make sure the room you’re in is well lit, and if all else fails an eyepatch may help. This latter may also help prepare you for a career as a pirate.

*Might be worth noting that Turok 2 was the first N64 game to use an 800 x 600 resolution. I’m not sure if it made a difference, but even now the game feels oddly nauseating and hypnotic – all the smooth textures and perfect visuals sliding by, oh so fast...

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