Newcomers to the world of VR often experience one of the least-fun elements of the immersive technology quite early on: motion sickness. VR motion sickness occurs because your eyes and brain think they’re moving inside an expansive VR world, but your body is doing nothing of the kind.
This disconnect between your brain, body and balance system when you’re experiencing virtual worlds can lead to dizziness, nausea, headaches, sweating, and more. Often, when you experience symptoms like these it can put you off wearing your headset again.
Thankfully, there are some techniques you can implement to control these sensations and minimise any symptoms so that you can enjoy your experience.
We’ve put together a selection of the best methods of overcoming VR motion sickness here.
Make Sure Your Heatset’s Set Up Correctly
There’s a lot to be said for having a headset that fits well. Take the time to adjust it so that your lenses are appropriately set apart. Having the correct distance between them will reduce strain on the eyes, help lighten the load for your brain, and cut down the risk of motion sickness.
The aim of the game is to make sure your eyes aren’t having to dart around inside the headset too much. The less your eyes need to move while you’re in your virtual world, the lower the chances of dizziness and headaches will be.
Choose Your Games Wisely
When you first get a VR headset, there’s probably a stack of games you’ve already heard of that you’ll want to try. Don’t rush out and get any old game first though, make sure you do some research!
Games that don’t require a lot of movement will be a great introduction to using VR headsets as your mind won’t get confused about what you’re body’s doing.
A few great examples of games to start you off include:
- Allumette – HTC Vive, Oculus, and Valve Index
- Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes – Google Daydream, Gear VR, HTC Vive, Oculus, and PS VR
- Moss – HTC Vive, Oculus, PS VR, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality
- The Last Labyrinth – HTC Vive, Pico Neo, PS VR, Oculus, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality
Decrease Your VR Session Time
VR worlds are often fully-immersive and it can be easy to lose hours on end exploring digital realms. Something you should definitely do to address or prevent motion sickness is to reduce the time you spend wearing your headset.
Short sessions allow your body and mind to build up a tolerance and get used to the strange disconnect that many VR games cause. Training your brain in smaller bite-sized chunks will help you get your ‘VR legs’ quicker
As you start to get more comfortable with the technology, you can gradually increase the time you wear your headset.
Don’t Ignore the Real World
When you’re problem-solving in a distant digital environment, you may start to miss clues that your own body is sending you about your actual physical state. As the intensity of a game ramps up and you become even more mentally engaged, it’s not uncommon for your breathing rate to increase, and your body temperature to rise.
Pay attention to these warning signs, as they are often precursors to nausea and dizziness. If you start to notice a change in your breathing or temperature, slow down a bit. Pause the game and take care of your physical needs first. Losing the sweater, opening a window, or using a fan will mean you’ll be able to better regulate your body heat.
Try Sea Sickness Remedies
Motion sickness from using a VR is not a million miles away from nautical nausea – both are caused by vestibular disorientation. While you’re on a boat, your body is moving at the same time as being stood still, whereas it’s usually the opposite for VR motion sickness.
Seasickness remedies are typically available from most pharmacists and include antiemetic drugs (to stop nausea and vomiting) such as Dramamine and wristbands that put pressure on the Nei-Kuan point. Often, these can be beneficial for VR motion sickness.
Eat Ginger Before Playing
Ginger has always been a go-to alternative remedy for preventing motion sickness. It’s believed that it’s so effective because it stops gastric dysrhythmias and plasma vasopressin from rising.
This seems like a reasonable excuse to stock up on gingerbread or grab your favourite ginger-based dish from your local Chinese takeaway.
Since part of the problem of motion sickness is to do with the lack of physical movement when your brain perceives you as being on the go, you could actually try moving with the game instead.
Before you even attempt to even do this, you’ll need to be sure you’re not going to walk into a piece of furniture. If you’ve got the space, moving in the physical world will help your brain compute what’s happening in the virtual world.
If you’re limited on space, or there are hazards in your home, you could just gently jog on the spot remembering to take regular water breaks and stay cool while you’re playing.
What’s the Industry Doing?
It’s no secret that motion sickness affects VR experience, for that reason Seenetic VR has been developed by a French company called Boarding Ring that make glasses for reducing travel sickness.
This device, currently in beta development, can be added to HTC Vive headsets. It works by providing light signals within your peripheral view, synchronising your balance system and eyes. If it catches on, it could be a real game-changer!
Take it Easy and Enjoy the Experience
The VR experience should be enjoyable, however, if it’s marred by motion sickness it’s not something that anyone would rush to return to. Whatever you do, take it easy.
Taking gentle steps into the world of VR and making sure your headset is set up comfortably will mean your mind and body will acclimatise easier. Take breaks, drink water, and do whatever you need to stay cool while you play.