Having gamed from a young age, videogames are huge part of my life and sit alongside watching movies as one of my hobbies. Nowadays I tend to do all my gaming on the PC but in the olden days I used to play on the Atari, Mega Drive, Playstation, PS2 and Gameboy Color, without issue.
Since gaming on the PC, something has struck me – an illness. A sickness so severe that it can make me feel ill for the rest of the day. My friends, welcome to the world of motion sickness.
What is motion sickness?
Motion Sickness is a feeling of nausea brought on by motion often when you’re sat stationary. This can happen in cars (car sick), on boats (sea sick), on fairground rides, watching movies and playing videogames. Not everyone is susceptible to motion sickness and I don’t believe I was until I was around 11 years old. After an extended ride on the waltzer at my local fairground, which seemed to go on forever thanks to an enthusiastic ride operator, I noticed that I could no longer ride the Waltzer and other spinning rides, including the teacups, without feeling a violent urge to vomit. This then spread to other things like watching certain movies (the reason I can’t watch Irreversible) and playing particular videogames.
The brain is a clever mechanism and motion sickness is actually a defence mechanism despite it being a major pain in the arse. Those who are motion sick appear to be very sensitive to visual movement. This tricks the brain into thinking it’s moving but your inner ear tells your brain “nope, we’re not actually moving”. Your brain then has a meltdown at the fact it thinks you’re moving but you’re not and comes to the conclusion that you may have been poisoned. To defend itself, it triggers the feeling of nausea to throw up the poison and therefore save you from a grisly death. Except we’ve not ingested poison. We’re just trying to play a videogame.
Motion sickness often gives me a terrible headache and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach right up to my throat, sometimes actually making me retch. The sickness doesn’t go away when you stop, unfortunately. It usually lasts for hours and therefore a few hours sleep tends to be the only cure.
How do videogames trigger motion sickness?
More often than not it’s the field of view in games. Sometimes this can be altered to provide a wider field of view that would be akin to the natural eye but in many cases, this isn’t an option. Other things that can trigger motion sickness in gaming is head bob and first person camera viewpoint. I’ve even experienced it with a certain type of in-game visuals and games where the the camera controls move too rapidly when using the mouse or joystick.
What can help prevent or minimise the nausea caused by motion sickness?
There are a few ways to help minimise the feeling of nausea so you can squeeze some extra playing time. Consuming ginger is one of the most popular. This can be in the form of gingerbread though ginger nut biscuits are the best. Ginger tea and Gin-Gin sweets are also good to consume to prevent sickness. If you’d rather something non-consumable, there’s a product called “Seabands” on the market that are soft, cotton, elasticated bands worn on the wrist. Each band has a hard ball stitched in the middle. The band is situated on the wrist so the ball is resting on a particular pressure point which controls the nausea reflexes. Like acupuncture, the pressure on the nerve can alleviate the feeling of sickness.
I’ve tried all of these and whilst they don’t rid you completely of the sickness, they do make it more manageable, allowing you to game longer. Usually you have warning signs when the motion sickness is going to turn severe such as a weird sensation in your eyes and stomach, and hot flushes. I’ve found the ginger nuts and seabands to be the most effective. If you do succumb to the motion sickness, a good sleep usually gets you back to health again.
Which games trigger motion sickness?
Not all first person games trigger motion sickness. In fact, some third person games do too. To help fellow gamers afflicted with this sensitivity, I’ve decided to list games which I know to trigger motion sickness.
I’d like this article to become a reference point for all sufferers of motion sickness which I will update regularly so if you’ve come across a game that triggers you, let me know in the comments below.
Alongside each game will be a status to detail the severity of the motion sickness that the game induces.
- Mild – Takes a long time to make you feel ill. Can get away with feeling slightly nauseous
- Medium – Can play half an hour before the sickness kicks in. Makes you feel sickly and headachey. Overplaying will result in proper sickness.
- Severe – Instantaneous sickness or nausea feeling in the space of 5-10 minutes. Makes you want to vomit and makes you feel ill for the rest of the day.
PC games that trigger Motion Sickness include
- Tomb Raider – Medium
- Stacking – Medium
- Kara’s Darkness: Chapter One – Severe
- Sniper Elite V2 – Medium
- Slender: The Arrival – Mild
- Aliens vs Predator – Medium
- Crossbow Warrior: The Legend of William Tell – Mild