Motion Sickness: The Gamer's Bane

Motion Sickness: The Gamer's Bane

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Videogame-induced motion sickness, with its dull headaches and stomach-churning nausea, is a curse upon unlucky gamers, but hope still remains for those who want to mash buttons without blowing lunch.

Motion sickness is believed to be caused by a disconnect between what the body feels and what it sees. According to an article on WhatTheyPlay, the sensation of motion felt by the inner ear conflicts with visual stimuli, fooling the body into thinking it's suffering from some form of toxin and forcing it to react accordingly, resulting in dizziness, fatigue, nausea and, if exposure remains for too long, epic chunder.

It can affect people in numerous unpredictable ways: While I'm a long-time FPS animal who's never experienced a single symptom from gaming, on a recent trip aboard the MS Chi-Cheemaun I discovered that while I loved being outside on the deck as we cut across Lake Huron, I could barely take two steps inside without almost falling over. As many as 33 percent of people are affected by motion sickness, a number that jumps considerably higher as conditions become more severe.

The particular type of motion sickness caused by videogames is called "simulator sickness," and is believed to be caused by the same kind of conflict between the inner ear and the eyes, as advances in graphical technology leave the body confused about whether it's being flung around violently or sitting on the couch. And while these sensations, not to mention the prospect of barf in your Wii Remote, can be frustrating, there are steps gamers can take to vanquish the vomit.

Sitting farther away from the television is the first and simplest way to alleviate game-induced motion sickness, as the increased distance can help the brain maintain its grip on reality. Ginger, which can be taken in capsules or brewed as tea, can aid with nausea relief by improving gastrointestinal circulation, while anecdotal reports of success with acupressure bracelets may also give gamers hope. Ultimately, the truly hardcore can just suck it up and get used to it; an article in Popular Mechanics says, "Experience often helps you get over [motion sickness]. It seems that after enough exposure to dizzying graphics, your brain learns that you don't die from poison every time you play a first-person shooter, and it lets you enjoy your fun."

A little suffering now for a lot of fun later seems like a fair trade, and fortunately there are no long-term complications from motion sickness unless the vomiting continues to the point of dehydration. The simple solution: When you feel lunch coming up, put the controller down.

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Ah, you don't know how many failed attempts and personal self loathing have resulted in my quest to save the galaxy from the Empire in the FPS Dark Forces. I could shoot dozens of Stormtroopers and avoid plenty of thermal detonators until I would break out in cold sweats and put the Rebllions hopes on hold as I would need to lay down and place a foot on the floor to keep me from spinning off this big blue marble.

I ended up selling Dark Forces.

I occasionally feel icky in certain segments of Halo too.

Playing far away does help when I'm playing Halo. Although my eyes hurt as hell from squinting so much from trying to see what's on screen. Hmmm...eating ginger. Might try that when I'm playing fps on pc since I have to play close up.

Motion sickness! AGH! The only time I really feel that type of lurching was on CoD4 when I first started to play it. Amazingly enough, putting my glasses on actually helped. The only other thing that worked for me was motion sickness pills.

Damn my inner ear for being so crazy!

The old-ish folk remedy for nausea was ginger ale left out to go flat, then chilled... as a kid, that's what Mom would bust out when the hurling started and it seemed to do some good. There's at least some truth there.

Sitting back from the set, so that your peripheral vision can see the TV's frame, definitely helps. If your subconscious can lock onto that static frame, it's less likely to get confused by that illusion of motion you get. I now wonder if that was part of the reason so many folks had trouble with the 360 port of Marathon... motion that's fine on a 17" CRT may be queazily too much on a 42" plasma set. (It's also likely the reason folks have more trouble with IMAX than with regular cinemascope screens.)

Oh, and don't play when hungry or when feeling over-full. That aggros the whoopsies.

-- Steve

There are indie games out now that actually use motion sickness as part of the game design. The last level of Randy Balma: Municipal Abortionist literally boils down to your ability to not vomit while beating the level.

Anton P. Nym:
The old-ish folk remedy for nausea was ginger ale left out to go flat, then chilled... as a kid, that's what Mom would bust out when the hurling started and it seemed to do some good. There's at least some truth there.

My mom did that, too! I still do it when I have the ick.

My mom used to do the same thing. My dad, on the other hand, preferred to give me old-fashioned stomach bitters when I was feeling unsettled as a child, which I recall being much more effective.

It wasn't until many years later that I discovered that stomach bitters is just "medicinalized" hard liquor.

Oddly enough, I've never had motion sickness while playing a game, but I get it in the car all the time whenever I try to read. It works one way, but not the other.

Maybe it helps that I never sit very close to the TV in the first place, so I can see it against the background of the stationary room.

Anton P. Nym:
That aggros the whoopsies.

My favorite quote of the day. Thanks for the lol.

Sylocat:
Oddly enough, I've never had motion sickness while playing a game, but I get it in the car all the time whenever I try to read. It works one way, but not the other.

Maybe it helps that I never sit very close to the TV in the first place, so I can see it against the background of the stationary room.

If you duck down so that you can't see out the windows, even peripherally, that usually helps.

Susan Arendt:

Anton P. Nym:
The old-ish folk remedy for nausea was ginger ale left out to go flat, then chilled... as a kid, that's what Mom would bust out when the hurling started and it seemed to do some good. There's at least some truth there.

My mom did that, too! I still do it when I have the ick.

Me too!

I once puked up an entire spaghetti dinner after watching my friend play Spear of Destiny for an hour. I was sneezing little noodles out of my nose for days.

I'm pretty much impervious to motion sickness in FPS games, as long as I'm the one playing, but I still get sick watching other people play. It sucks.

never had motion sickness. i only get a tight gut when a character falls from a great height for a long time at high speed, such as the Agent jumping off the Agency Tower in Crackdown, or Niko getting fired out of an Anhillator over Middle Park. I only get that way because roller coasters and things of the like provide a similar experience, and my mind adheres it to experiences of great height and speed.
the only time i got a headache was looking at unreal tournament 2 because of the gaudy color effects, but that was purely visual.
only person i've seen get physically ill from game-induced motion sickness was my friend after a lengthy DM in Turok 2. he said the swimming areas had gotten to him.

Can't say I've ever had motion sickness from a game.

I feel sorry for motion sickness suffers who get their hands on mirrors edge...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N1TJP1cxmo

In all my years of playing video games, especially FPS games, I can't say I ever recall a time where I've had motion sickness.

Those poor Japanese seem to suffer from it though...

I am one of the percentage that suffers from motion sickness induced by videogames. I have studied my reactions to games to the point of it becoming a science and have come up with interesting results.

Ginger takes up to thirty minutes to work and will only sustain for an hour or two. You can also take Dramamine, which takes ten to twenty minutes to work and will last up to six hours. Dramamine is by far more useful for long periods of gameplay, however it also has a tendency to put you under for a few. I believe there is a 'less sleepy' version, but I don't as of yet know if it works.

Most sickness stems from using a regular game controller on a third person or first person 3d game. I found that playing with the Wii remote on the same sort of games will not result in as high a level of dizziness. Having the light on in the room helps as well. Eating snack food and drinking water also help, believe it or not, as it helps stimulate the brain on another activity outside of feeling sick.

The 3d game is most likely to make one sick if it has bright colors, poor or muddled graphics, the background moves constantly, the character bobs up and down as they walk, the character is far too close to the screen, or the character is moving too fast for your brain to register where you are in the game.

The same type of 3d game is less likely to make one sick if the background is fuzzy, the background is stationary, the graphics are comprehensible, the colors are dull or limited, the character's walk is smooth, the view is in far third person, the camera is at a decent pace, and most especially if there is a mini map in the corner of the screen. The mini map is godly and useful for those who get motion sick as it gives you something to follow should you feel dizzy.

So games like GTA, Doom, Unreal Tournament, and Spyro make me violently ill; while games like Metroid, Way of the Samurai, and Zelda (outside of the water part) do not. Games such as Dark Cloud and Ratchet and Clank only make me moderately ill, but it can be controlled with the medication.

Lastly, the amount of time put into a game while dizzy is a factor, for any game. The motion sickness will not go away and forcing it on yourself will only result in a migraine that will ruin the rest of the night. It's not worth it. For those that get motion sick, putting down the controller after an hour or two of game play is very important.

I sincerely hope this has been insightful. If not, I have wasted the ten minutes it took to write this up.

Edit - on the by, forcing the game on myself has by and far never made it better. That's a bit like saying, "Well, putting my hand in the fire hurt last time. But maybe, just maybe, if I did it a few times it would hurt less."

 

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