Late Thursday night (some would argue it was early Friday morning), I discovered that playing too much Second Life gives me motion sickness. This was most unfortunate, because I had spent about an hour ambling about a very quiet seascape area, which is the sort of thing I thought I wanted to do with SL. I walked, I flew, I ever ended up underwater somehow, walking along till I flew up and onto a boardwalk again. But I kept feeling worse and worse. I managed to shut down the game and the laptop before I had to run to the porcelain altar. I haven’t been back to SL since.
Mind, I don’t get motion sickness when I’m on boats or in cars. But long ago, I realized I could not watch my nephew play his first-person shooter games, because I’d get vertigo very quickly. My development with video games pretty much ended with Ms. Pac-Man and Tetris, so Second Life is a quantum leap or three for me.
I did a little research the next day. It turns out this is not an unknown phenomenon; something like 10 to 50 percent of gamers have some degree of motion-sickness when playing (very precise stats, yes). The issue is that your eyes perceive motion in your character and its surroundings, but your body doesn’t. Therefore, your body concludes you’ve been poisoned, and makes you nauseated. Apparently, the body hasn’t evolved to handle nonmoving motion yet, for some of us.
There appears to be little one can do about it. Over-the-counter motion sickness drugs aren’t much help. Some games have devised ways around this, like a little white dot on the screen one can focus on when everything else seems to be all chaotic motion. I found some improvement by backing up the in-game camera so that the rate of motion appeared to be less because of the wider angle of view. Besides that, I guess I’ll have to make more use of the teleport feature in the future.
Articles from my research:
- Playing video games makes me sick
- How developers are trying to solve motion sickness in video games
- About.com: Video Games And Motion Sickness