Today I’ll talk about another one of the most frequently asked questions on reddit: after having talked about about if you have to buy a VR headset, which one you should buy and how to start developing with it, today I’ll talk about how to overcome the motion sickness in VR.
The typical scenario is this one: some smart guy reads a lot about VR and feels the urge to try this awesome technology, so he/she buys a brand new PC, a brand new headset (like Oculus or Vive), starts using it and… he starts feeling bad: nausea, dizziness, headaches. In short, he/she just spent 2000$ to buy some illness… it isn’t that cool!
First of all, what is this and why is this happening? This phenomen is the so-called “simulation-sickness” or “virtual-sickness”: in short, the brain perceives that something that the body senses are perceiving is strange and non-coherent and so it raises its defenses. One of the most common situation is this one: you are playing a seated virtual reality experience, like a FPS where you move in the game using the keyboard or a gamepad. When you move inside the game, your eyes perceive that you’re moving, but your vestibular system in your ears feels that actually you’re seated and still. This is incoherent: since two senses feels different things, the brain thinks that the body has been poisoned and so forces us to vomit to puke the poison out. This situation is the famous “motion sickness” that leads to the unsolved problem of locomotion in VR (well, we of Immotionar have solved it using our ImmotionRoom system, but that’s another story 😉 ) Even the bad FPS or bad response time of a VR application or device can lead to sickness, due to the fact that the brain does see the our senses are working bad.
How can this issue be solved? Well, part of this has to be solved by the hardware producers, making more performant headsets, with more FPS and precise tracking (like Vive room-scale). Some other issues can be mitigated by us developers, designing the games to reduce accelerations and so reducing the risk of inducing sickness to our users. But what can users do? Here are some advices:
- Start slowly: I know that VR is supercool and when you receive your first headset you just want to play all available games… but this is not safe for your body. Start with some minutes of VR experience. Then take a break and play again. Day by day increment your VR usage;
- Start with standing still experiences: VR videos, if well made, are the best experiences to start with: they make you used to VR and induce rarely nausea. Still experiences like Oculus Dreamdeck or Henry make you start enjoying super-cool virtual reality without having nausea. When you’ll be used to them, you can start with more complex experiences;
- Start with your stomach empty: don’t try VR for the first time after a great lunch if you don’t want to puke everything;
- Start with relaxed environments: relax, take your time and enjoy the greatness of virtual reality. If you’re stressed, you’re more prone to feel bad;
- Recognize the type of experiences that can make you feel bad: FPS games with gamepad movements are the worst one, so start playing with it when you’re ok with other kind of experiences;
- If you play FPS-like games, standing still and moving your feet up and down (i.e. walking-in-place) can make you feel less nausea (because your vestibular system will fill that you’re somewhat moving). Otherwise, for non-FPS-like games, standing seated will make you feel more comfortable;
- Learn to recognize your symptoms: every person is completely different regarding the simulation sickness: someone starts to have nausea, others to have headaches, others to sweat a lot. So, learn to recognize if you start feeling bad: if this is the case, stop immediately and make a pause. Remember: there is no hurry in getting used to VR.
In any case, don’t worry: these problems tend to vanish with the daily use of VR. First time I tried the Oculus DK2 I was so excited… and I started playing the Tuscany demo. After 2 minutes, my stomach said to me: “Choose: me or the VR”. I chose my stomach… nausea was really bad.
Now I’m a VR developer and I can even use VR after launch, even make experiments with VR and sensors like Kinect. It’s only a matter of time: day after day, your body becomes used to VR, developing the so-called “VR legs” and abandoning the simulation sickness: this happens to 90% of people. Someone has reported that this rule don’t work for him… if this is the case, I’m sorry but present VR is not suitable for you :(.
One last thing I noticed on myself: VR legs have to be kept trained: if you stop using VR for some months, you have to begin the process from scratch!
Hope to have helped you to enjoy more virtual reality. If this is the case, help me with my blog by sharing this article!
5 October 2016 at 18:36
“Someone has reported that this rule don’t work for him… if this is the case, I’m sorry but present VR is not suitable for you”.
With you being a developer, I really hoped you’d know better than that. Bad VR implementation causes motion sickness however there are people who are definitely less prone to it, and those people might be able to handle bad VR after getting used to it.
BUT you need to understand this: There are people out there who can’t tolerate bad VR, but are able to still use trackpad based locomotion when implemented well. I consider myself extremely sensitive to VR sickness. I’ve tried a lot of games that use trackpad/stick based locomotion and honestly, most of them I couldn’t handle at all. There’s a game that’s out on SteamVR called Onward and honestly it’s the best implementation of trackpad-based locomotion that I’ve played. It’s in fact the ONLY one that I can play without feeling sick!
Before playing that game, I had given up on all artificial locomotion (except for teleportation) in VR, there is no “VR Legs”, there is no “Oh it’ll get easier for you”. Implement a good locomotion sickness, follow the basic rules for developing for VR – don’t let them yaw the camera, don’t slowly accelerate them, don’t force their viewpoint to move without their head doing so, don’t move them around without a very good fixed point of reference (I.E a cockpit) and even then, be very careful with it. Jumping in VR can be a very bad experience for people as well.
tl;dr: Don’t ever say “VR isn’t for you”, VR is for everyone. Just implement it with motion sickness in mind and you’ll have a happy (and regular) playerbase. Take Onward for example – http://steamcharts.com/app/496240
6 October 2016 at 10:23
Well, I agree and disagree with you. If every time you go on a car, you puke, whoever drives and wherever you sit, maybe going by car is not for you. Yes, the driver can drive more carefully, you can sit on the front seats… but if you’re very sensitive, you can’t use that medium. The same holds for VR… if you always feel nauseous and this does not get better… why should you use it?
About “With you being a developer, I really hoped you’d know better than that.”: if you had followed the link to my other article, you would have read the reccomendations I wrote on how to create a FPS controller with no acceleration to reduce nausea. This article was not intended to developers, but to users. And the user is only passive in this process. Maybe I could write another post dedicated to developers, it could be a good idea. Thanks for having given me this idea and thanks for sharing your opinion! 🙂
6 October 2016 at 14:39
Thanks for a friendly and concise reply, I apologise if I came across as negative, I’m very passionate about the technology!
My main point is that VR is for everyone. Good VR (hitting 90fps, using 1:1 roomscale tracking, teleportation or otherwise well implemented locomotion) will make -no-one- sick (unless they struggle with movement in real life of course), so the way I see it, any comparison to motion sickness is a moot point. If it’s making people sick, it’s not done right. I have let a large number of friends, family and coworkers play on my Vive and I’ve had noone report any nausea whatsoever! I actively avoided letting them play games/experiences which I believe to poorly implement locomotion or camera movement.
I apologise, I didn’t read the recommendations for the FPS controller prior to my comment, but I think it’s a good idea! Have you per chance been able to try out Onward? It’s been the only game on the Vive that uses trackpad locomotion that doesn’t actually make me sick! And from the responses I’ve seen from the playerbase, that’s pretty widely agreed upon as well! I’ve seen a handful of cases of nausea but they have all either been struggling to hit the 90fps or have ignored tips for how to reduce motion sickness (which have 100% eliminated any from my experience playing the game, fortunately!).
6 October 2016 at 17:05
Don’t feel sorry, it’s great that you express your opinion with passion! I love VR too, so we share the same passion and the same worries about if this technology is going to succeed! 🙂
Didn’t try Onward, but I’ve read lots of good reviews about it, too. Maybe they’ve used the reduced-acceleration trick (with other ones) as well. I’ve tried this trick on myself… just removing acceleration almost destroys all motion sickness even if you move with a gamepad!
About the game mechanics, yes, you’re right. But sometimes as a developer you’re forced to make choices. For example, if you want to make a racing game (like Redout) it’s hard to not induce motion sickness. I agree that there are lots of games really poorly implemented (some of them move the camera autonomously… whaaaat?).
Just a final thought about our work at Immotionar: our system should reduce nausea letting you walking in place. At the moment it can induce nausea in some sensitive people due to the fact that it’s a prototype using Kinect… but in the future I think that systems like ours will help in giving developers another way to let people move nausea-free.