How to Play Virtual Reality Games Without Jamming
Virtual reality is the next big thing in gaming, but wearing a headset causes motion sickness for some. Even I experienced mild motion sickness while playing, even though I have never struggled with this in the past (not yet). If you’re worried about throwing, there are several things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable.
Why is this happening
Without going too deep into the science of all of this – you can read about it here – most types of motion sickness are caused by mismatched sensory functions. Basically, your body thinks it is sitting still because you don’t tense your muscles or show other signs of movement, but your eyes and vestibular system tell a different story. If you’ve ever felt nauseous while reading in a moving car , you have an idea of what motion sickness is in virtual reality.
Mixed signals can cause headaches or hot flashes and sweating, but researchers are still not entirely sure why the body responds this way. Some of the more plausible theories suggest that the body misleads this confusion as a warning that you have swallowed something toxic (for example, when you “spin” after drinking too many cocktails). So, just in case, your body is forcing you to get thrown. This physical reaction is also more common in women for reasons still unknown (almost four times more common than in men). So ladies, be extra careful when you’re about to try VR for the first time.
Take many breaks, sit down and keep your head still.
If you are reading the manual for any VR headset, they all highly recommend taking regular breaks while playing. In fact, most games have a disclaimer when you start playing, or have warning messages on loading screens. This is not the same as the Nintendo prompt, “Hey, why don’t you take a break?” messages and should be taken more seriously, especially if you know you are prone to motion sickness. You can use the timer to schedule breaks, or simply remove the headset every time you reach an in-game checkpoint or savepoint. Aim to take a 15 minute break every hour at least.
It’s also a good idea to sit down and move your head as little as possible while playing. Sitting down will make you feel more grounded and reduce dizziness or falling. And as much as you want to use natural head movement to see all the cool virtual landmarks, this could be a quick ticket to the city of vomit. Relax and try not to move your head as you get used to your new virtual environment.
If you feel unwell, stop playing immediately! When motion sickness sets in, you cannot move forward and fight it. Once your body has decided that something is wrong, it’s time to take a break. Don’t try again until you feel 100%.
Poor frame rates can make things worse
If you are like me, when the game starts to crash, you just keep playing in the hope that it will somehow fix itself. This is a really bad idea for VR gaming. Research from the Oculus Rift development team shows that low frame rates and other performance issues can cause motion sickness much faster. If your game starts to freeze, crashes, or any other technical issue, please stop playing and fix it. Exit the game and reload the save file, close the application and restart it, or whatever else you need to do to get it all working perfectly again.
Hack your nervous system
Motion sickness is related to your nervous system, so there are a few things you can do to keep it from breaking down. All you need is a quick lesson acupressure . There is a pressure point on the inside of the arm known as Pericardium 6 (P-6) or Neiguan, which can be used to relieve nausea and vomiting . Before yelling “Fuey!” and spit in the jar, this method has proven to be quite effective and is often taught to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy . Here’s how to do it:
- Keep your hand up, palm facing you and straight fingers.
- Place the first three fingers of your other hand – index, middle, and ring – on your wrist.
- Then place your thumb on a point just below them and lift your fingers. You should feel the two large tendons in your hand where your thumb is.
- Press firmly on this point with your thumb and massage in circular motions for two to three minutes.
- Repeat the process for the other wrist.
If you find that this trick helps, but you have to do it all the time, consider purchasing something that affects your P-6 point. For example, Sea-Bands are bracelets that massage that pressure point for you. You can clip them to your wrists, put on the headset, and play without stopping too often.
Be aware of what you eat in advance
Stopping food altogether will not stop motion sickness – in fact, it can make it worse – but avoiding junk food can at least reduce the likelihood of an eruption . If you know you will play VR later, try not to overeat spicy, fatty, or greasy foods. It is also recommended to stick to lighter and more frequent meals rather than overeating during one large meal. And make sure you drink plenty of water as well to maintain hydration and optimal digestive function.
While playing, try chewing gum, sucking on hard candy, or whipping up ginger tea to relieve stomach problems. Ginger soothes indigestion and relieves nausea. If you don’t want tea, consider adding ginger or even ginger ale. Some people even have success drinking alcohol before putting on a VR headset, but proceed with caution. This probably won’t work for everyone, and if you try I at least recommend going with a ginger libation like Moscow Mule.
Chill Out, literally
The hot flashes that accompany other symptoms of motion sickness are not only annoying. They can aggravate feelings of nausea and increase the likelihood that the spinning wheel in your brain will go all over the place. Some cold air will help . The cold air on your skin will cool you down and make you focus on it. Place a fan right in front of your gaming chair, turn on the air conditioner, or better yet, open a few windows for a breeze.
Adjust parameters in the game and play smart
Make sure your setup doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. It is important to calibrate your VR headset according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t think you can skip this step! If your headset allows you to adjust the field of view (FOV) in-game or through other parameters, reduce it as much as possible. VR Heads’ Cale Hunt suggests that a low field of view is less likely to cause motion sickness , although it will degrade the realism of VR. However, playing is better than shaking.
If your game allows it, changing how your character moves can help a lot too. In my experience with Resident Evil VII VR, for example, I’ve had to tweak the speed of my character to match the speed of my head. Once I fixed that, it felt natural to play the game and I had no other issues. And some games allow you to completely change the way you move. You can teleport instead of walking, or make a full 180-degree turn with the push of a button. If there are such opportunities, use them until you get used to virtual reality.
There are several tricks you can do while playing. When driving or turning in a circle, focus on one point and focus on it while driving . This is a classic trick that dancers have used for centuries to keep their heads from getting dizzy. When you enter a cutscene or the game takes over, close your eyes. Your body is already bewildered, and moments like this only add to the confusion. Closing your eyes in general can be helpful if you need to take a short, short break. At the very least, close your eyes during loading screens to give your brain a break.
Hold on! Do not give up
There is both good and bad news when it comes to VR gaming and motion sickness. The bad news is that at first you may not be able to enjoy it – well, for example, at all. The good news is that you will probably get used to it if you want to put in the time and effort. Research has shown that people who spend more time in a virtual environment will eventually overcome motion sickness . Over time, your brain learns to correctly interpret what you see and experience, and your body copes better with the discomfort associated with movement in VR.
However, VR acclimatization will be awkward and it is not known how long it might take. Using these tips, start a VR session and play until you feel bad, then stop. When you feel better again, try again. And if you can help, do these sessions when you are not too tired and more likely to succumb to the vomiting gods. Continue this VR training process until your brain realizes what you are doing is not actually harmful and stops sending these mixed signals forever.