7 Things You Can Do to Overcome VR Motion Sickness

by Chris Reed • March 15th, 2017
Don't give up just yet...

Motion sickness: it’s far from the flashiest aspect of VR, but it’s a real problem for some people when they put on a headset and enter a virtual world. VR motion sickness happens when your eyes tell your brain you’re moving around in a VR environment, but your body feels like it’s sitting in a chair or standing still. If you’re prone to the problem, these conflicting inputs cause you to feel miserable. Specifically, you might experience sensations like nausea, dizziness, headaches, sweating, excessive salivating, or all of the above. Even worse, these symptoms can continue for hours after you take off the headset and compound together.

Even if you’ve experienced VR motion sickness first-hand, don’t give up hope just yet. It’s possible to mitigate and even overcome VR-induced motion sickness altogether. We’ve already gone over a few tips that developers can use  to limit reactions here, so we’ve included some advice specifically for consumers below. Next time you’re having issues, give some of these a try.

vr development

Baby Steps

Let’s say you’ve had a bad experience playing a VR game. You tried it, and the moment you started moving around in the virtual world, your stomach lurched and your head started to spin. You might not be inclined to venture back into VR, but if you give up now, you’ll be depriving yourself of some truly amazing experiences. It’s actually possible to overcome VR motion sickness without using any crazy tricks at all. You can do it simply by taking it slow.

If a game makes you feel queasy, start out by limiting your play sessions to just a few minutes at a time. When you start feeling uncomfortable, shut your eyes, breathe deeply, and take a short break before trying again. If you gradually increase the time you spend in those games, there’s a good chance you’ll overcome the discomfort in just a few days’ time. Before long, you’ll be cruising around imaginary worlds like a pro. For many people, getting their “VR legs” just takes patience and practice.

Have Someone Tell You You’ll Be Okay

This one sounds bizarre, but at least one study suggests it’s rooted in scientific fact. According to the report, you may be able to overcome VR motion sickness simply by having someone tell you you’re going to be fine. The study focused on naval cadets who, prior to boarding their assigned vessel, were told they were unlikely to suffer from seasickness, regardless of whether it was true.

As a result, the cadets who’d been given this “verbal placebo” got seasick at a lower rate than cadets who hadn’t. Assuming the findings are accurate, this method could help anyone who’s anxious about VR motion sickness before trying. Now you just have to get over your anxiety about asking someone for such a strange favor.

ginger

Eat Ginger Beforehand

That thin, slippery garnish that comes with your sushi isn’t just for cleansing your palate. According to some studies, it’s also good for kneecapping nausea before it starts. If you eat ginger — or take a ginger supplement — an hour or two before putting on a VR headset, you may lower your chances of losing your lunch. Whether it works for you or not, it’s as good an excuse as any to make some quick additions or alterations to your diet.

Aim a Fan at Yourself

Another potential VR motion sickness cure that might sound strange is to have a fan blowing your direction while you play. It’s not clear why a cool breeze on your skin makes you less likely to hurl, but many nausea-prone forum goers have reported that it does indeed stop the discomfort before it starts. If you have a fan handy and you’ve struggled in a VR game, why not give it a shot? At the very least maybe it will help stop you from sweating inside the headset so much.

Take Dramamine

If you’ve ever felt seasick on a boat or gotten dizzy from reading in a car, there’s a good chance someone recommended you take Dramamine. Dramamine is an antiemetic medicine you can use to curb any symptoms you might get from motion sickness — which includes the VR-induced variety.

Dramamine comes in a number of forms, from standard pills to chewable tablets, and under a number of brand names. There’s even one that’s designed to provide 24 hours of nausea protection, which would be a good fit for anyone who likes to marathon their way through games.

Wear a Wristband

If you’re looking for a potential solution that doesn’t involve taking medication, Sea-Bands might be the right choice. Sea-Bands (and other similar products) are wristbands that put acupuncture pressure on what’s known as the Nei-Kuan point in your wrist. The result, for many people, is a reduced susceptibility to motion sickness. Like some other potential solutions on this list, Sea-Bands are primarily marketed toward travelers, but VR users have reported that they work in virtual worlds as well. You can buy Sea-Bands and other similar products online or at most drug stores.

Marijuana 

If you live in an area where marijuana is legal and you’re old enough to use it, you may find the solution to VR motion sickness in medicinal weed. After all, one of the primary applications of medical marijuana is to curb nausea. It’s not for everyone, but if it works, it works.

Oculus-Rift-Lenses-Closeup

Now the bad news: it’s possible none of these potential solutions will help you feel better in motion-heavy VR experiences. If none of them work for you, your best option is simply to avoid playing games that bring motion sickness on. Racing games, flying games, and games that let you move freely to explore virtual worlds are good ones to avoid if you’re susceptible to VR motion sickness.

On the plus side, that leaves plenty of VR experiences as fair game. If you simply focus only on games and apps where your viewpoint remains locked in place, or only lets you move through actual roomscale movement or teleportation, you’ll probably fare just fine.

Tagged with: ,

What's your reaction?
Like
Wow
0%
LOL
0%
Dislike
0%
  • M0rdresh

    I see no possible correlation between motion-sickness and a fan blowing on you other than increased comfort.
    Actually, sweating more than you should is an early symptom and thus sign of motion-sickness.

    When you ignore that sign and do not take a break when that happens, the effects of motion sickness will last much longer while taking a break at the very first sign could fade away in a 10 minutes. So no, I personally do not believe a fan is recommended to fight of motion-sickness. On the contrary.

    • Nicholas

      It could just be the moving air might convey an alternate sense of motion that convinces your brain to ignore your inner ear?

    • I think mixed with the other info in this article (such as Baby Steps) it’s clear that the intent is not to convince people to ignore symptoms, but rather the opposite. The cooling of the fan does have a soothing effect, but just like everything, it’s entirely subjective and everyone is impacted differently.

      • M0rdresh

        I don’t think I stated that the article had the intention to do so. While on the subject of intent; mine was simply to enrich and tell the flipside to certain things and to convey my opinion on the matter.

    • PK

      Not all VR sickness stems from the same issues, but I do know for a lot of people it’s in large part psychological. I had it worse than most I knew, even 2 years into my DK2 and Vive usage. That’s when I finally managed to start using it daily, and then the process of getting used to it really began. Now I still have to be careful but I can stay in for many hours at a time, and am now having to worry that things I develop may bother others when I don’t feel any problem.

      For me it was all about creating positive associations. My brain started feeling that odd motion and immediately tied it to other bad experiences. I had to stop going past the point of discomfort, participate mostly in well designed content, and keep at it. In real life I’m not especially susceptible to motion sickness, about average, although VR has actually given me some issues with flying as I used to enjoy takeoff and landing, now I seem to associate that with VR nausea and it feels pretty awful.

      Also I’ve definitely seen that if people go into an experience primed that it’ll make them sick, most of them report after that they felt what was expected. If the priming though is focused on the positive, then they mostly come out of it okay. I can easily believe that a fan that makes you more comfortable would help many get past a low level of discomfort.

      • M0rdresh

        There is certainly something as ‘VR sickness’, my wife can ride rollercoasters all day in a theme park, its crazy, however 10 minutes into VR and she’s sick quickly. However I truly believe it can be overcome, like sea sickness. But then again as others mentioned here, it remains highly subjective, I know fishermen active for 30 years that still get sick.

        • PK

          yeah the nausea is the effect from probably countless different types of discord in the body, some to do with actual physical motion, othertimes just perception. and combinations of these. although it would be great if there was a way to solve all these problems with one magic pill, that altered a common part of the brain in all these experiences.

  • Mane Vr

    I use the fan but I do so cause the hmd makes my head hot and the fan keeps me cool so I can play longer the things that makes me feel discomfort is standing while playing full locomotion. not sure why that is but i’m ok with that cause I don’t want to stand anyway

  • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

    8. Quit whining and be a man!

    • VR Geek

      Be a man? What is that supposed to mean? This is such a dated and destructive term.

      • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

        I had forgotten how much the world hates masculinity. I’m sorry. I won’t bring it up again.

        • VR Geek

          Not an attack on masculinity, but rather that statement is not how all men identify. I am masculine but the fact that I cannot handle VR sickness does not make me less of a man. I am merely pointing out that your choice of words are at best offensive to some and at worst damaging to others. Plus it sets an unrealistic standard that men are measured against. It is time to drop it and find new less stereotypical ways to express yourself although I am not sure you can in this instance as people cannot
          help getting sick and notjing you say will fix that.

          • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

            You are less of a man than me because of your weak physiology. Sorry you had to find out this way…

          • Isara

            There’s nothing wrong with masculinity. However, determining how much of a man someone is by a VR game is using the wrong measuring stick, and clearly shows you must be lacking in other areas. It’s actually laughable that you find yourself more manly because you put on a headset in your mom’s basement, pretending to hunt orcs. I guess the anonymity of the internet makes you feel manly too.

    • BeehiveRound

      I assume you must be in Operational Detachment Delta then?

  • NooYawker

    I find strafing does it to me. I can pretty much run around all I want but to much strafing sets it off. And any game that uses a controller and turning with the thumb stick feels like my brain is trying to escape my skull.

  • These seems more suggestions to cure nausea in general.

  • Ted Joseph

    The cure for me is to have the game offer teleport (preferably Robo Recall or Arizona Sunshine quick teleport with rotate). The immersion is still awesome as you can walk around your play space when teleported.

  • Robert Cole

    A great trick I quickly learned when playing games with full locomotion (which can cause vestibular disturbance at times, even in seasoned gamer) is to actually walk on the spot whilst moving forward in VR.

    This doesn’t have to be a full range step, just enough to slightly rock the head side to side and provide the vestibular system something to key into – its not perfect but works surprisingly well.

    The other critical movement I avoid is any rotation whilst moving forward (strafing/smearing)- we don’t move like this in real life and the brain is very keen for this anomaly, it can quickly present as sim sickness

    I always make sure to rotate myself (moving physically) so my head is aligned with direct of motion before starting forward, we are super sensitive (human beings) to any spacial anomaly our proprioceptive system is very accurate but has limited bandwidth for input, so these issues really stand out.

  • Rothgarr

    After playing 10-12 PSVR games with no sickness issues, I immediately got sick after playing Resident Evil 7. I think it was because it realistically simulated movement (I changed to smooth motion, couldn’t stand the incremental turning). I discovered that what was making me sick was that I was sitting in a chair and using the analog stick to turn — it was the turning that made me sick. I changed my play style to standing up and physically turning my body as needed. After that I had zero motion sickness. SO I must play all first person games standing up now. Oddly, I am not affected by first person games where I am in a structure, like a tank or a car, etc.

    • Danny Huynh

      Same here, I wouldn’t feel motion sickness if I’m inside of something like a body suite or a car. I think the reason behind it is that your eye tells your brain that your body is not moving, but the structure (car or body suite) is moving. It’s like you inside a car and when the car turns, you don’t feel like your body turns. Please excuse my language if I don’t make sense lol

  • VR Geek

    Or just get a ViVe and enjoy room scale experiences as that is the only thing that seems to eliminate motion sickness unless you use a joystick to move versus teleportation.