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Clearing up misconceptions around motion sickness in VR

Clearing up misconceptions around motion sickness in VR

May 11, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

May 11, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell
More: VR, Design

Why do some people experience motion sickness when playing VR games? Although it doesn't happen every time a headset is worn, it's an issue that still plagues VR developers. Before tackling the problem, it's important to understand what exactly happens to the body when entering VR. 

VR developer Suzanne Leibrick provides helpful information through a series of tweets for devs unfamiliar with how (and why) certain people experience motion sickness in VR, while clearing up some misconceptions around the phenomenon. 

For starters, not all individuals will feel ill in VR, even if they've never put on a headset before. "One common misconception people have if they haven't tried VR at all is that VR makes all people sick," she writes. "This isn't true. It's also not true that all VR makes people who do get sick, get sick."

Technology related motion sickness happens when your sense of proprioception (where your body parts are in relation to other body parts/the world) and your visual system don't agree. This is what will cause some people to feel sick. 

"So the first cause of technology sickness would be if your HMD display doesn't track your physical movement and change accordingly very quickly," Leibrick explains. "Your tracking system has to be good, but so does the system you're running VR on. Remember, not only must I know where your head is, but display the relevant data to your eyes, too."

There's also content related motion sickness, which comes from motion where you have zero control over the camera. To combat this, Leibrick recommends teleportation as a movement system, or a joystick motion that goes forwards or backwards (although rotating through this motion may cause sickness).

Be sure to check out the entire thread here to learn more about what Lebrick has to say about motion sickness in VR -- it's worth the read! 

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