Cure for FPS induced nausea (simulator sickness)

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Do you remember Goldeneye 007, or how about Perfect Dark? Yeah, I remember them well – that’s how I knew that FPSs made me nauseous. No, not because of content of the game, but because I (like about 50% of the population) suffer from simulator sickness. Don’t worry, though – there is a cure.

Let’s start at the top. What causes the motion sickness to begin with? In a first-person game, the game engine creates a complex environment that can be quickly navigated with the touch of a mouse or analog stick. Players can turn 90 or even 180 degrees with great speed, generating a dramatic perspective change while the body remains stationery. Like car sickness, this can induce all the classic symptoms of motion sickness: drowsiness, sweating, nausea and even vomiting.

This particular form of motion sickness has been documented by the US Army as simulator sickness. They researched this phenomenon when pilots reported ill affects after using driving and military flight simulators. In essence, the problem comes down to cue conflict theory:

For example, the visual system may perceive that the body is moving rapidly, while the vestibular system perceives that the body is stationary.

Alright, so we know what it is and essentially what causes it. So, how do we fix it? This has been my question for years. In general, I just avoided any games in first person, missing out on a lot of really awesome experiences as a result. No longer, it appears that I am on the mend, now able to play FPS and other games that used to bring me to my knees. The solution is actually really simple. You need to retrain your brain.

Okay, I know that sounds complicated, but it actually isn’t. As explained above, your brain gets confused when it sees fast moving perspectives on the screen but your body is still stationery. That inner-ear, balance and perspective part of the brain (look at my technical understanding right here) gets confused, causing motion sickness. Now, you need to retrain your brain to handle these issues – something that can be done, simply by playing more first person games.

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Now, before you jump into running around in The Stanley Parable, there are some important caveats to make. Most indie games, as awesome as they are, have awful frame rates and animations. There’s a reason why even some seasoned FPS veterans can’t handle Minecraft or Gone Home. Sure, there are excellent first person indies, but if you’re prone to simulator sickness, these will be your final hurdle, not your initial brain training ground.

First things first, arm yourself with some anti-nausea cures. I used Valoids, but you can also nibble on ginger or have a fan blow in your face. Set up a high-end FPS on your gaming rig of choice, but try to sit a bit further from the screen than usual, or at least sit back in your chair – you want to be able to glance off-screen occasionally as this can help prevent the motion sickness. If possible, adjust your Field of View (FOV) to be wider – this can prevent the claustrophobic, nausea-inducing view. Additionally, some people find it helpful to put a small dot (use Prestik so you can remove it) in the middle of the screen – this gives a stable focal point. And now, play.

 

The first week or so I played L4D2, I could not manage more than about 20 minutes without becoming violently ill. I would take tablets, but often still needed to lie down after playing. However, over time it has become way better. Last Friday I managed to play for an hour before feeling sick (I don’t think the heat wave helped), and last night I didn’t experience any nausea whatsoever while playing. It seems my brain is slowly becoming accustomed to the experience.

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It is worth mentioning that while playing you should strive to be deliberate with your movements. I used to find myself staring at the ceiling in many FPSs – I simply panic, swung the camera around and became violently ill as a result. Take your time, move with care – although you can move quickly with a mouse, at least in the beginning try to train your hand to control the camera that way you would your head. If you whip your head around at high speeds, you’ll probably also get nauseous, so don’t do that in-game.

Finally, if possible, play with other people (who you know). By playing with friends who are aware of your problem, you can take a game slower if you need to. Also, you will have more fun and focus less on the task at hand and more on the social interaction – oh wow, doesn’t that just sound nauseating?

That’s right, I seem to have cured my motion sickness, and you can too. I can’t take all the credit for this – Geoff prescribed this cure of “just play until your brain gets used to it” and it really did work. I just want to give a big thank you to the community – it has been a lot of fun playing L4D2 with you all, and you’re definitely part of my cure. So, think I’m ready for COD? Or maybe I can finally play Dishonored.

Last Updated: March 10, 2017

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let’s get on with it!

  • Weanerdog

    Baby Rince?

    • Hammersteyn

      Bwahaha

      • OUpory1960

        ?? ????????­­­­­­e­­­­­­’? ????-????­­­­­­e­­­­­­? ???­­­­­­e­­­­­­? $76/?? ?? ??­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ???­­­­­­e­­­­­­??­­­­­­e­­­­­­?. ??­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ??? ?­­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­e­­­­­­? ??????? ? ??? ??? 7 ?????? ??? ???? ????? ?­­­­­­e­­­­­­? ?????­­­­­­e­­­­­­?? ??? $18?41 ???? ??????? ?? ??­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ???­­­­­­e­­­­­­??­­­­­­e­­­­­­? ??? ? ?­­­­­­e­­­­­­? ?????. ???? ?? ???? ??? fox800&#46com

    • RinceThis2014

      I was bread adult size.

      • VampyricSquirrel Monk

        Read… Cloned from some or other random set of genes.

        • TiMsTeR1033

          evil genes!

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            and that’s why he’s a ginger 😛

        • RinceThis2014

          Not random, demonic.

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            That’s what I said… random

      • Admiral Chief in Vegas

        Bread? White or brown? Or whole wheat?

        • VampyricSquirrel Monk

          Best of Both?

        • Mark Treloar

          Gingerbread

      • Marigold

        You mean you emerged as an adult bread?

        • Admiral Chief in Vegas

          XD

        • RinceThis2014

          Yes, only with more yeast. It’s 33oC in my office and I am recovering from concussion, give a guy a break!

          • Admiral Chief in Vegas

            33 in you office?

            Genugtig

          • RinceThis2014

            Yeah man. Old fucking building with no aircon in the centre of town. Really not feeling good. Head is splitting right now.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            That explains the rye humour. badumtish!

        • Unavengedavo

          So would that make him a Ginger Bread Man?

    • Unavengedavo

      My exact same thought

      • RinceThis2014

        You were never accused of originality *runs

        • Unavengedavo

          No, I think this is more a case of Great mind think alike

          • Weanerdog

            Yes that great hive mind we share, I have just found out why your videos don’t offend me. It is the fact we share a mind. Well that and I spend many a miss spent afternoon lurking on 4chan.

  • Kensei Seraph Moe Ninja

    While reading the first part of your article I thought of sitting further back so that more of the environment outside of the screen is visible in your peripheral vision and placing a mark of some kind on the centre of your screen, both of these are listed in the article however.

    I found playing stealthily in Dishonored I didn’t have to move the camera all that rapidly as I would take my time to assess the location of each enemy and how they would move.

    Also good luck on getting over the motion sickness.

  • Eetcarr

    I hit a whole teaspoon of crushed ginger when i tried out battlefield 3. Havent played it since.

    • VampyricSquirrel Monk

      You’re not supposed to sniff it…

      • Eetcarr

        If only i knew that sooner

    • CypherGate

      So you say Motion Sickness won in the end…. Shame… that sad boeta!! Mine is odd though. I get hectically car sick, BUT if i drive then all is good. Very weird hey?

      • Eetcarr

        If i watch somebody else play, even if third person, i bomb out.

        • CypherGate

          Thats a severe case of motion sickness right there. You need to stock up on some ginger nibbles and munch away non stop while playing. maybe that will help or hypnosis!

  • General JJ PanGirl

    Great article Zoe. I have this with some specific games. All depends on the movement of the game and the graphics though. Really irritating though, especially if it’s a game everyone’s recommended.

    • RinceThis2014

      Did you send Zoe a pic of your band? 🙂

      • TiMsTeR1033

        band?

        • General JJ PanGirl

          I’m just as confused as you are Tim.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            It should be called, “Kill me a Ginger”

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            “Bullet for my Ginger”
            “Ginger Dahlia Murder”
            “Gingerlica”
            “The Offginger”

          • General JJ PanGirl

            Bullet for my Ginger. Haha. That’s great.
            Guns and Gingers.
            Nine Inch Gingers
            Too many options…

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            Megaginger
            Def Ginger or Ginger leppard
            Ginger Borgir
            Cradle of Ginger
            SlipGinger
            Ginger Spears

            yeah… way too many options

          • TiMsTeR1033

            Ginger Spears ROLF!

          • Unavengedavo

            Just Ginger… No… Wait O_o

          • TiMsTeR1033

            *insert fail music*

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            Waaaap Waaaap Waaaaaaaaap <—- that one?

          • TiMsTeR1033

            yip

          • General JJ PanGirl

            Ginger Borgir. You pick all the best ones.

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            It’s called being bored at 4pm at work and trying to find a part for your car that’s decided not to start and not having any joy.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            See you and I should become good buddies hahaha my dad is like expert mechanic on cars! could help you out!

          • General JJ PanGirl

            I feel for you man. Really. Car troubles is the damn worst.

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            I’m a site technician, which makes it worse.

          • General JJ PanGirl

            Ah flip. Luckily I work ten minutes from home.

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            I’m 5 minutes from the office… still have to get to the office tho. Guess I’m using the wife’s car for a day or two.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            So what is basically wrong with car?

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            Ignition coil is fooooooked

          • TiMsTeR1033

            For Citi golf. I shall ask my dad for you man. If he can get one can find out price for you..

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            Sweet thanks man, I really appreciate it. Tried 6 or 7 spares places near my offices and none have any in stock.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            no prob

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Gingers of Mercy
            AC/Gingery

          • RinceThis2014

            Yeah, pity fuck all of them are in the slightest way amusing. Right that’s me for the day.

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            Think we struck a nerve.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Nine Inch Gingers? That’s not what she said.

          • General JJ PanGirl

            Hahaha.

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            LOL!

          • TiMsTeR1033

            “Funeral for a Ginger”
            “KillswitchGinger”

          • General JJ PanGirl

            Speaking of Killswitch Engage. Anyone going to Ramfest?

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            Didn’t know if was on until now… will check..

            Also I didn’t know Lamb of Ginger was in the country this weekend… I mean Lamb of God.

          • General JJ PanGirl

            Haha. Trivium and Killswitch at Ramfest. Unfortunately Killswitch without Howard Jones, but should still be cool.

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            Yeah it should be… would love to see Trivium live.

          • General JJ PanGirl

            Me too. That’s my number one reason right there. Regardless of the new album being quite uninspired (or disturbified).

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            One thing I don’t get… the JHB and CPT Ramfests are on the same dates, but all the bands are confirmed for both venues… how’s that gonna work? 😛

          • General JJ PanGirl

            Huh? That makes no sense. Just checked now on plankton. How the hell? I know Trivium is playing Friday night at the Cape Town fest, that’s all I really looked for.

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            I checked on the Ramfest site… lol

          • RinceThis2014

            The Cure, EYELINER!

          • General JJ PanGirl

            At least the darkness is only under my eyes and not inside them.
            (eyes being the windows to the soul and all)

        • RinceThis2014

          The Band? The Cure? EYELINER? I post a GIFF of them every frigging time we mention eyeliner! @johnambitious:disqus

  • Kromas

    I don’t get simulator sickness but one game that brought me near the edge was AvP as a Xenomorph. The amount of disorientation when climbing walls and other crawlspaces would just get too much.

    • Admiral Chief in Vegas

      LOL, yeah, that was quite different to get used to!

      • Kromas

        Then again Alien:Colonial marines actually made me sick but for vastly different reasons. 😛

        • Willem Swanepoel

          I never got motion sickness but when I played Alien: Colonial Marines, I could only last for 25minutes then I had to shove my finger down my throat. Was feeling so sick …

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Dishonored first, it’s as slow as you want it to be.

    I actually noticed that you weren’t moving around that quickly last night… when I was a zombie… waiting to strike.

    • Admiral Chief in Vegas

      looool

    • General JJ PanGirl

      I still need to get into that too.
      I think Zoe was more afraid of us than the actual zombies.

      • Admiral Chief in Vegas

        Heh, we made a fearsome team though!

        • General JJ PanGirl

          Yea we did. At times there it actually almost looked like I was skilled.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    This kind of thing is why I can’t run on a treadmill. After I stop it takes a few minutes for me to feel like the ground isn’t moving while I’m standing still.

    • Weanerdog

      When I would get off a boat back onto land and then look at the boats it would seem like the boats were all still on their moorings and the ground was moving up and down, yes I would get sea sick on dry land after the fact.

      • VampyricSquirrel Monk

        It’s actually a known thing… my mom gets it… they call it land sickness, and very very many people get it.

        • TiMsTeR1033

          after riding rollercoasters can still feel movement after gotten off.

        • RinceThis2014

          True. I believe most people do. It’s the liquid in the cochlea that continues to move and the brain’s perception of that.

    • Unavengedavo

      Haha, have you tried jumping on a trampoline for a couple of minutes and then jumping on solid ground?

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I have heh. It’s like you’re expecting the ground to have some give to it.

  • TiMsTeR1033

    I guess @zoe you’re a sufferer of car sickness too and sea sickness?

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      actually, not. except if i try to read in the car/boat – then i’m like the header image 😛

  • Rags

    Tried turning off weapon and motion bobbing? The source games should have a command for this?

    • General JJ PanGirl

      It’s not always that simple, sadly. I can’t explain why some games do that with me and others don’t. Could be graphics, could be movement. Hell, could even be textures used.

      • Admiral Chief in Vegas

        Or bad genes

        • General JJ PanGirl

          I’ll have you know that there are nothing wrong with my jean pant.

  • VampyricSquirrel Monk

    Really glad you found a way back into FPS’ Zoe! It was really frustrating you.

    Now I just need to join in for L4D2 lol

    • Admiral Chief in Vegas

      Planning another 4v4 for Friday night, I’m just trying to get time to get that damn dedicated server up…

      • VampyricSquirrel Monk

        Sweet, I’ll make Friday a Steam night instead of Xbox night 😛

      • Brian Murphy

        I’ll have to see what my latency is like from the US, since I’m already up at weird hours anyway 🙂 Zoe’s got me on steam, so gimme a holler if you’re down a person.

        • Admiral Chief in Vegas

          Kewl man!

    • TiMsTeR1033

      If I joined Would be shit going down homie!

      • VampyricSquirrel Monk

        Yeah, shit from lag and slow FPS from your pc 😛

        • TiMsTeR1033

          My pc can handle L4d2!

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            Uh huh… sure it can 😛

          • TiMsTeR1033

            I played it at Lans a few years back!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Can you handle a PC though Tim? *duck*

          • TiMsTeR1033

            I am ex Master Race

          • VampyricSquirrel Monk

            The Master Race has changed and evolved since you left Tim

          • General JJ PanGirl

            We are beyond human. We have fused with our components through time and now too upgrade once every few years to become better, stronger, killing machines.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            think If I had the resources to join the master race again we could TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

          • General JJ PanGirl

            I think at the last Master Race meeting we decided against that. Earth is not enough.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            The The UNIVERSE!!!

  • Admiral Chief in Vegas

    Having first hand experience with Zoe on my team and seeing how she progressed, I’m pleased to say that she has made remarkable progress in the 3 gaming session. Exponential progress.

    The first time I saw a zombie attacking her from behind, and her standing still, I thought to myself “self, this is going to be a HARD game keeping her alive”. But she came along nicely!

    Well done Zoe, we, the community, salute thee!

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Yes I saw how she played in the first game after talking about being an absolute n00b. She’s trying to hustle us.

      • General JJ PanGirl

        Clearly

  • whatutalkng?

    I found that I get motion sickness mostly with games using Unreal Engine. But I can play BF4, ARMA, DayZ for hours on end.

    Couldn’t cope with Dishonoured, and Outlast. Both those games use Unreal Engine.

    • VampyricSquirrel Monk

      Might just be “Unreal” sickness?

      “Unreal” sickness: An often violently sick aversion to anything running on the Unreal Engine.
      -Taken from the Made Up Dictionary”

      • whatutalkng?

        That must be it! 😉

      • General JJ PanGirl

        It’s always important to reference your quotes. Good work man. At least I now know you’re not bullsh!tting us.

    • Mighty Meh

      Only time I’ve ever got simulation sickness was when I first played the Dayz mod, that head bobbing killed me after 10 min. Fortunately it could be turned off.

      • General JJ PanGirl

        I’ll remember that when I start playing and put it off beforehand.

        • Admiral Chief in Vegas

          And then do the bebackhand

  • ElimiNathan

    Wow @Zoe is that header pic of you after trying L4D2 the other day ?

  • Brian Murphy

    Never had FPS nausea, and given some of the ridiculous gaming sessions I’ve partaken in, it’s not from lack of trying. Now, roll the clock back 25 years or so, and it may be different, since I suffered from horrendous motion sickness in cars as a child (sorry about puking up an entire can of fruit cocktail down the side of your car Dad).

    • Brady miaau

      With you. Also seems to be something I outgrew, the motion sickness.

      My wife, on the other hand, cannot even watch a movie on the big screen without becoming ill. Fellowship of the ring, with the vast, moving landscape shots, was particularly memorable. Shame 🙁

      My wife also will not watch me play games like Fallout or Mass Effect for than ten minutes, then she starts feeling ill. BUT with Mass Effect I had to call for the cut scenes.

  • SilverMantis69

    Love the pick Zoe “The Cure” Call me Bob. Miss the old days!!!!

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  • Twinb

    I get motion sickness depending on the video game, I played goldeneye and perfect dark years ago and was fine, now on the other hand soldier of fortune and half life gave me terrible headaches/nausea, I can also play Battlefield fine but can’t watch someone else play. It also happens with some 3rd person view games.

  • MrMosley

    I only get sick when I play first person games and I really get sick when im playing unarmed it seems to help when there’s a gun in the picture. But I can play 3rd person all day,why are there not more 3rd person games? Personally I like them better.

  • Kevin Thompson

    I have no problem with FPS games, but they make my wife really sick, which is frustrating, because we’d prefer to enjoy them together. Hope these tips help.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      any help? 🙂

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  • korisensei

    Would it help to watch other people stream fps games, if you don’t have time to play yourself? I have a horrible case of motion sickness, i can probably play for 5 mins max and i feel like I’m going to puke. It’s the same with watching other people play, I also get nauseated from that…

    • Zoe Hawkins

      It might help, although I think part of it is having the actual control over what you see by playing it yourself. Even if you just play for 5 minutes at a time, but every day, it might help your brain get used to it. Just be prepared to lie down or take nausea meds afterwards… 🙁

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