Keep a bucket handy!
VR is one of the most exciting and ground breaking developments to happen to gaming but this new realm of video based entertainment has a worrying dark side. Never before has a computer game had the power to physically effect the participants state of wellbeing. Sure, in the past some gaming experiences have had the ability to trigger physical reactions by targeting our emotions (I’m thinking of Alien Isolation here) where your heart beat doubles and your palms start sweating. We are accustomed to these responses with our experience with film or even a gripping book but I’ve never felt physically sick from playing a game.. until now!
Nausea is a truly horrible sensation and it seems in its current infancy, VR can quickly turn you from feeling like kid on Christmas Eve to an over indulgent binge drinker slumped over a bucket.
As VR matures the kinks will be ironed out and improvements will be implemented to avoid these nasty side effects but what can we do in the the meantime reduce the risk of wanting to vomit?
Virtual reality sickness (also known as cybersickness) occurs when exposure to a virtual environment causes symptoms that are similar to motion sickness symptoms.
The most common symptoms are general discomfort, headache, stomach awareness, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, and apathy. Virtual reality sickness is different from motion sickness in that it can be caused by the visually-induced perception of self-motion; real self-motion is not needed. There’s not a great deal of research data available but initial thought suggest:
- Adverse reactions can be reduced by playing in a seated position rather than standing.
- Women seem more susceptible than men to VR sickness.
- Motion Sickness Sensitivity: People who are more sensitive to motion sickness in the real world are also more sensitive to VR sickness.
Beware the Modders
The modding community has contributed massively to pushing the industry forward and have at times made fun games monumentally brilliant through creative adaptions to already solid real releases. This is all fine and well when the only risks were the game crashing requiring a quick reload but with VR, a less than perfectly executed mod has the capacity to make you feel so rough you wished you were dead.
“I’m probably going to puke again…”
This is probably one of my favourite videos highlighting the pitfalls of playing an unpolished mod in VR. Here Kwebbelkop shows us with ,hilarious results, how unpleasant the experience can be whilst playing a GTA 5 mod with an Oculus Dev Kit.
I really felt for the guy as he battled not to heave but maximum respect goes out to him for taking one for the team for the testing the hypothesis “can you get to the titties” 😉
These are very early days for VR and there’s so much to be discovered so please share your thoughts and experiences.