Virtual reality headsets can cause motion sickness in some people, but I have good news: you can overcome it!
First of all, if you’ve had bad experiences in the past – like I did – don’t let that hold you back. Recent headsets have made major technological leaps. Better screens and higher, more stable frame rates mean you’re far less likely to feel uncomfortable, but everyone is different and there are no guarantees.
To give you the best chance, I strongly encourage you to follow these basic, simple tips that can make all the difference as you get started with virtual reality. I used to have severe motion sickness with VR but after following these suggestions I was finally able to enjoy this amazing technology.
Of course, these tips were made with Gran Turismo 7 and the PlayStation VR 2 in mind, but apart from a few specific recommendations, they should be able to help anyone.
Table of Contents Short Sessions
The number one piece of advice I have is to keep your gaming sessions short. Set a timer and limit yourself to 10 or 15 minutes. Then gradually add more time as you feel comfortable. I know this isn’t what you want to hear when you’ve just unboxed your brand new VR headset, but trust me: if you’re taking just one of my pieces of advice, don’t do it.
The trick is to stop before you ever feel uncomfortable. Even when you feel great, it can suddenly and unexpectedly catch up with you even after you take off the headset. Take your time and have a good time.
If you feel uncomfortable, stop playing immediately. Take off the headset, walk around the room, get a cold drink and relax for a few minutes.
Trying to “push through” your symptoms will only make it worse and could hurt you in the long run. Once your brain associates wearing the headset with feeling nauseous, it can make the whole VR process even more difficult.
Start slow (literally)
When you load up Gran Turismo 7 in VR for the first time, it’s an incredible experience and you’ll want to jump straight into your favorite car and take it straight to your favorite track.
Do not do that. Instead, use a slower car and – especially – a convertible.
A slower car that gives you a clear view of your surroundings will help your brain process the movement. You can imagine it as in real life: people do not get “car sick” in convertibles with an open top, but in cramped rear seats with limited visibility.
This advice actually comes from Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of Gran Turismo, who specifically recommended that I use the Mazda MX-5 Roadster when I first tried PSVR 2. Sure enough I had a great experience and never felt uncomfortable at all.
Watch where you’re going
This next piece of advice is also from Kazunori Yamauchi and is an important one: look ahead when driving.
“I think the number one recommendation for not getting motion sickness while driving is to race properly and really focus on driving,” Yamauchi-san said. “[Drive] how to drive a real car on a race track. If you drive properly, you can drive a much faster car and still not get sick. If you drive an LMP1 car and look level, it’s not very good for your senses!”
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should avoid looking around – it’s part of what makes VR so fun – just watch your speed when you do it, especially when you’re starting out.
When your body begins to experience motion sickness, it’s typical that you’ll feel hot and start sweating. The actual reason for this is beyond the scope of this video and isn’t fully understood by science yet, but we know you can help fight nausea by counteracting this reaction.
Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing; maybe even a t-shirt and shorts. If you can prevent yourself from getting hot, it could actually help keep you from feeling ill.
You can take this a step further by placing a small fan in front of you as you play. Keeping airflow over your skin will help keep it cool and, needless to say, it will also make the experience of driving a convertible even more immersive.
Believe it or not, simply chewing gum was shown in a medical study to “significantly relieve” motion sickness when using VR.
There are various theories as to why this is, but it doesn’t matter! This is an easy and affordable way to avoid getting sick, and it’s a great excuse to buy candy!
Ginger Root Ginger and Meclizine
The practical tips I’ve mentioned so far will help you a lot, but if you really want to make sure you don’t get sick, you can find a wide range of nausea and motion sickness remedies over the counter at your local drug store or pharmacy.
Ginger is a particular ingredient that has been used to treat nausea for hundreds of years and can be found in a wide variety of products. Personally, I like Dramamine Ginger Chews, which have a “clinically-proven dose of ginger powder for… […] motion sickness” – and they taste pretty good too.
For ultimate prevention, I recommend any anti-nausea medication with an ingredient called meclizine. Meclizine is well suited for use with VR as it is less likely to make you feel drowsy or drowsy, unlike other anti-nausea agents. As directed, take it about an hour before your expected game and it should last you through your gaming session just fine.
You can find meclizine in branded products like Dramamine All Day Less Drowsy tablets which I personally have found to be very effective, but it is also used in many other medications that you can find in most stores. Typically, anti-nausea medications labeled as “less sleepy” contain meclizine, so be sure to check the ingredients.
Remember that it is always advisable to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication and of course make sure you use any of these products as directed.
In summary, if you want the absolute best chance of not getting motion sickness with VR, here are the steps you’ll want to follow:
Take a non-drowsy anti-nausea medication like meclizine or eat something with ginger about an hour before playing. Wear clothes that keep you cool, like a t-shirt and shorts. Turn on a fan. Chew gum while you play. Drive slower cars with good visibility. Limit the time of your gaming sessions. Stop playing immediately if you feel unwell.
And that’s it! These same guidelines were very helpful to me when I first started using VR and I am confident that using just a few of these techniques can help even those of you with the most sensitive stomach.
Please let me know if these tips were helpful, and if you have your own workarounds or suggestions, share them in the comments. Good luck and have fun!
See other articles on PlayStation VR.