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Oculus VR Working on Simulation Sickness Issues

Honestly, I can't say I felt any kind of "simulation sickness" the two times I experimented with the Oculus Rift HMD during CES 2013 and E3 2013. If anything, it was a task just getting used to the idea that hey, the mouse no longer needs to be used to look around in a virtual environment. Of course, my sessions were somewhat long enough to get a taste of the technology: for those that use VR for long periods of time, simulation sickness can become an issue.

According to Oculus VR's VP of products Nate Mitchell, simulator sickness is the exact opposite of motion sickness. "In motion sickness there's all this motion but you don't visually perceive the walls and ceilings are moving," he told Polygon during GDC Europe 2013. "This is what creates the conflict that makes you dizzy. With simulator sickness it's basically the inverse. These are all the things you want to avoid as game developers."

The trouble with both is that there are differing opinions about where these conditions originate and what solutions can prevent them from occurring. They're largely misunderstood in the medical community, so developers behind virtual reality HMDs like Oculus VR are going to great lengths to research and solve problems related to simulating environments. Unfortunately, VR is still at its earliest of roots – it may be a long time before most symptoms are resolved.

"This is the sort of thing developers like Oculus need to make," he added.

He listed a number of scenarios that contribute to simulation sickness such as changes in altitude like staircases, backwards or quick lateral movement, minimal shifts to the horizon line, and even head bobbing. He added the team is still debating on whether head bobbing actually provides problems. "I'm of the opinion that head bob is not for us, but it needs more research," he said.

Eventually the budding VR industry will see less and less simulator sickness as hardware and software developers come together and create a standard that will keep simulation sickness-causing triggers from appearing. The problem will likely never be completely eliminated, but at least companies like Oculus VR are working to keep our need to puke into the trash can at a minimum.

  • Robert Pankiw
    I've used the rift a bit, and I can say, a gut wrentching feeling was fast upon me. That didn't matter to much, it was so very amazing. Hopefully I can go for longer at a time, as I plan to buy the consumer version.
    Reply
  • jhansonxi
    Not just a VR issue. I had a coworker who was in the military. He was on several ships and didn't have any problems. He could also play Descent for hours without problems, flying upside down and the like. He couldn't look at a screen with Quake on it for five minutes without getting sick (and I doubt it was the earth-tone color scheme). I've had occasional problems with 3D games but could never determine the cause or remedy.
    Reply
  • mman74
    Since the days of the 486 FPSes Wolfenstein, Doom, etc, I've always found playing games where you run along corridors with walls spinning around at high speeds, enough to make me vomit. Now fortunately with improved graphics and draw distances, higher refresh rates and fluid motion, I fare a lot better. Which is good as FPSes are still my favourite genre.
    Reply
  • tului
    If I was a trillionaire, I would make something the size of the LHC, put a gaming chair in it that could accelerate on 3 axis, with so much room to loop around I wouldn't notice the slight circular motion. Too bad I'm a prole.
    Reply
  • x2ruff4u
    My buddy has one that I borrow sometimes and at first it was great no sickness, but after about 10-20 minutes the motion sickness started kicking in. It reminded me of watching a 3D movie and at first it's not so bad, but starts to progress little by little. I think what most people see on videos is people using it for the first time because it's so exciting it just doesn't kick in yet unlike 3D were people have at least seen 3D movies. This is just my personal experience which I really do hope they fix. This issue has been talked about a lot and now it's barely getting light..I will still wait for the Retina version because of the PPI is very noticeable since your eyes are so close.
    Reply
  • rwinches
    The brain needs physical feedback correlated to the motion.

    If you want an example of the disconnect, try this.

    As a passenger in a car on a long straight road traveling at highway speed look at the road far ahead through a pair of binoculars. It is disconcerting right away as the road moves toward you slowly in a way that does not match with the speed you are traveling. It is both fascinating and unsettling at the same time.
    Reply
  • 4745454b
    I think it will effect people differently. I know a girl who can't watch 3D movies at all. And I mean at all. My friend can watch it, only gets a headache. I watch it, I'm fine. I remember reading the warnings on Quake and the like. I NEVER had an issue with those games. The only thing that got to me was Decent. Upset my stomach while playing that game. (no headache, just the uneasy feeling in the belly.) OR will come out and some won't be able to handle it, while others will probably wonder how they survived for so long without it. My question is what makes us so different that some can't use it at all, while others love it.
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  • IndignantSkeptic
    Many of us might have to resort to taking motion sickness pills to play. Hopefully there are no side effects to those pills. Maybe the only side effect is if you eat poison then you won't vomit to get rid of the poison. That happens very rarely though.
    Reply
  • x2ruff4u
    11430954 said:
    I think it will effect people differently. I know a girl who can't watch 3D movies at all. And I mean at all. My friend can watch it, only gets a headache. I watch it, I'm fine. I remember reading the warnings on Quake and the like. I NEVER had an issue with those games. The only thing that got to me was Decent. Upset my stomach while playing that game. (no headache, just the uneasy feeling in the belly.) OR will come out and some won't be able to handle it, while others will probably wonder how they survived for so long without it. My question is what makes us so different that some can't use it at all, while others love it.

    Take a look at roller coasters. There's a lot of people who love them and a lot of people who don't. Even though it's not one if you get into it enough you will get that near motion sickness. It would be interesting if they make a chair of some sort with the Rift in conjunction to make it feel like a real roller coaster ride like the ones in Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure :)
    Reply
  • 4745454b
    I'm not 100% sure roller coasters are the same. Those have a very real danger to them. Yes there is motion, but "woodies" are famous for adding the sound of creaking wood to "enhance" the fear factor. There aren't usually people dying playing games. (unless you are in Korea. No offense.)
    Reply