Table of contents
Virtual reality is an immersive adventure like nothing else, but unfortunately, some sensitive individuals experience motion sickness during gameplay. The dizziness and nausea can be severe enough to nix the fun! Let's take a few minutes to learn why VR motion sickness occurs and how to prevent it so you can hang out in the metaverse without worry.
Why Does VR Motion Sickness Happens?
Motion sickness, whether it happens in a car, on a plane, or in VR, occurs when your brain receives conflicting information from your senses about your movement and surroundings. Specifically, VR sickness happens when your eyes perceive that you are moving while your other senses perceive that you are stationary. In other words, if you are standing still in your living room while the metaverse is whizzing by, it disturbs the equilibrium in your brain and leads to those dreaded, uncomfortable feelings.
Some people are more susceptible to VR dizziness than others, although it can happen to anyone. For example, women, children, older adults, and VR newbies are the most likely groups to have symptoms. Although these groups are at the highest risk, it is stated that up to 95% of VR users will experience some level of motion sickness in the metaverse, sometimes called "cybersickness," at some point in their lives.
Does Motion Sickness from VR Go Away?
Studies show that many users will adapt to the equilibrium shift in VR over time, leading to a decrease in VR sickness symptoms. This phenomenon is known as getting your "VR legs." The best way to become accustomed to VR is to play regularly and gradually increase your time in the metaverse until symptoms dissipate.
VR tolerance is a very individual thing. It takes some people longer to become accustomed to VR environments than others. In addition, some may find that they can't tolerate lengthy gaming sessions, while others find that certain immersive experiences are off-limits.
If you're feeling sick, can you remove your VR headset and feel better instantly? A recent study by Woo et al. revealed that VR users who experience VR dizziness and nausea require approximately 11 minutes to recover. Remember, though, that this is merely an average based on one study. Some users report instant recovery, while others report symptoms for hours after VR use.
How to Stop VR Motion Sickness
Adjust the Display and Headset
If your VR headset doesn't fit securely over your eyes, you will likely view the metaverse through unfocused lenses. This causes the brain to work overtime to understand the signals sent from your eyes and other areas of your body, worsening VR sickness symptoms. PICO headsets have a balanced design and cushioned support for a comfortable fit that may reduce motion discomfort. These systems also feature motorized interpupillary distance adjustment to ensure optimal focus.
After your headset is adjusted properly, try lowering the brightness level on your display. Doing this reduces the amount of input your senses need to deal with, making it easier for the brain to come to terms with the disconnect between what you see in VR and feel in the real world.
Pause When Your Game Glitches or Buffers
Glitches or latency issues during gameplay are very disorienting to the brain, even for experienced VR users. The unpredictable nature of these frequent stops and starts makes it difficult for the brain to understand the relationship between what the eyes see and where the body lies in space. If your game continues to glitch, try restarting your headset. If this doesn't fix the issue, don't try to push through the problem. Contact tech support to get your system running smoothly again.
Play While Sitting Down
Sitting down gives gamers, especially those new to VR, the stability they need to navigate the metaverse without experiencing VR dizziness or nausea. When sitting, your movements are naturally limited. This gives your brain a break from trying to make sense of the visual and positional information it is receiving from your senses.
Take Ginger Supplements
If you are wondering how to get rid of motion sickness from VR, look to an age-old remedy: ginger. Ginger ale and ginger candies are readily available at your local grocer and may help to quell your queasiness. If you are looking for something a little more potent, there are multiple ginger supplements, usually in capsule form, on the market. Some popular motion sickness medications found at the pharmacy also contain ginger as an addition to the active ingredient. Remember to speak with your doctor before trying any supplement to reduce VR motion sickness symptoms, and use all supplements and medications as directed by a medical professional.
Rest if You Have an Ear Infection or Tired
Our ears play a significant role in our balance and equilibrium. Therefore, motion sickness may worsen if you have excess drainage in your ears that negatively impacts your vestibular function. If you have a cold, ear infection, or severe allergies, wait until things clear up before traveling back to VR.
If you are excessively tired, it's a good idea to take a break from VR. When you are tired, headaches, dizziness, and sometimes even nausea are common. When you enter the metaverse with these symptoms, they are bound to intensify. Wait until you are well-rested to enjoy your trip to the metaverse.
How Long Should You Play VR?
If you are new to VR and are prone to motion sickness, begin slowly. Initially, try entering the metaverse for five minutes every day or two. After approximately one week, increase to 10-minute sessions every couple of days. During week three, try 15-minute sessions. Progress at this rate until you can enjoy your VR experience with little to no adverse effects. Remember—everyone has a different tolerance level in VR, so don't get discouraged if you aren't able to increase your time in VR on a weekly basis.
VR motion sickness is uncomfortable, but it is not insurmountable. Many gamers successfully acclimate to the immersive environment by gradually increasing the amount of time they spend in VR. Try a headset that incorporates comfort measures, precise tracking, and motorized interpupillary distance adjustment, such as a PICO 4 VR headset, to have an enjoyable VR experience!