Virtual reality is a gift that keeps on giving. It has never been so easy to immerse yourself into the worlds of your favorite games. Virtual reality (VR) makes it possible to step into the (almost literal) shoes of your favorite characters in the comfort of your own home.
Despite this call of virtual adventure, it is not the most comfortable experience for everyone. Many VR users report varying types of discomfort while playing. But why is that?
Why Does VR Make Us Feel Sick?
According to an article in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, the most common symptoms of virtual reality-induced motion sickness include eye fatigue, disorientation, and nausea.
While the exact reason people experience VR motion sickness varies, we commonly attribute it to the asymmetry between various sensory information. For example, our eyes tell us we are moving, but the rest of the body does not. This experience confuses our brain, which cannot tell the difference between virtual and physical worlds.
Because Virtual Reality (VR) is still a relatively new technology, there is still no definitive study that reveals how many people experience VR sickness. However, enough people experience it for it to be a cause of concern.
Thankfully, being prone to VR motion sickness does not mean you will never experience the joys of VR.
Tips to Overcome VR Motion Sickness
Scientists have identified the three major factors that cause VR sickness—hardware, content, and individual human factors. In this guide, we’ll share examples of how to manage each of them.
1. Get the Right Nutrition
As with many other things, prevention is better than cure. To prevent nausea while playing VR, you can eat dry foods over several hours instead of a few large meals. Dry foods such as crackers, cereal, or toast can help keep your stomach settled. It is also good to drink a lot of water and avoid sweet, caffeinated, or dairy-based drinks.
Alternatively, you can also consume ginger as tea, biscuits, beer, or capsule. Ginger contains bioactive compounds—gingerol, paradol, and shogaol—that interact with your central nervous system. It has a long history of use as a safe and effective treatment for nausea symptoms.
2. Start With Shorter Intervals
Like any new skill, it’s important to take your time. Don’t force yourself to play VR when you are feeling nauseous. Make an effort to take breaks in between games to re-orient yourself in your physical environment.
One of the critical signs that you should stop is when you experience in-game lag. Because of latency issues, some VR headsets will have delays or glitches. If you notice a disconnect between what is happening in-game to what you are experiencing, it may be time to stop and reset or recalibrate your device.
3. Practice With Different VR Games
Some games can be more motion sickness-inducing than others. If it’s your first time playing VR, try to play games designed to orient you with various sensations. Easing yourself into the different aspects of VR can help manage the initially overwhelming sensory disconnect.
For example, start with games that begin with simple movements, like interacting with objects. Then, move on to games that allow for spatial recognition like teleporting or experiencing heights. Last, you can learn about complex virtual movements like walking, running or even fighting.
4. Keep the Room Cold
While VR technology has definitely come a long way, it still suffers from several limitations. One of the most common issues with bulky, commercial VR headsets of today is heat generation.
Many people who get motion sickness also experience feeling hot and sweaty. To help alleviate this discomfort, you can keep the room cold when playing by turning on the air conditioner or the fan.
5. Take Medication
You can also try taking one of the many pills which claim to help relieve nausea from motion sickness. Be aware that these won’t work for everyone and you should be careful with medicines.
As with many medications, always consult a doctor for the dosage before taking them, and check whether this is an appropriate medication for you.
6. Pressure Point Wearables
If you are against the use of medication for the sake of fun, an alternative is to use pressure point wearables. Pressure point wearables help press the right locations to ease the symptoms of nausea naturally. They usually come as wrist bands or bracelets.
As of writing, there are no pressure point wearables designed for VR. However, there are pressure point wearables made for diving available that will offer a similar effect.
7. Swap Controller Clicks for Actual Movements
If you’re not interested in VR games that don’t need controllers, there’s still an alternative. VR software companies have designed software to help mimic natural movement in the virtual reality space.
Natural Locomotion works to emulate the same input from VR controllers to more natural, physical movements. For example, instead of pressing a button to walk forward or jump, you can physically do the moves instead.
Software like this helps resolve VR motion sickness by reducing the sensory dissociation from regular virtual reality experiences. By keeping your body moving similarly to what you are experiencing in-game, you can reduce the stress on your vestibular system.
8. Upgrade Your VR Hardware
Aside from software, incorporating hardware designed to mimic natural body movement can help ease VR motion sickness. If you are willing to spend a little extra, you can invest in hardware that can enhance your experience.
There is plenty of commercially available hardware to augment your VR movements include VR treadmills, guns for shooting games, and even shoes.
Don’t Let VR Motion Sickness Stop You
VR motion sickness can be an incredibly stressful experience, especially when you are playing in front of a group. While it can be off-putting to some people, it does not have to define your experience with virtual reality forever.
Ideally, virtual reality equipment should feel like an extension of your body, not a weight on top of it. As VR technology evolves, the ease of use should improve with it.
In the meantime, the human body can learn how to move in new spaces. Adapting to virtual reality is a lot like learning how to drive—you need to practice until it feels natural.
In the coming years, the use of virtual reality will only continue to grow and integrate more into our daily lives. By working to overcome VR sickness, you don’t need to be left behind.
If you’re in the dark about VR gaming but want to give it a go, this article will help you get started.
About The Author