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How to reduce VR sickness in PlayStation VR

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If PlayStation VR is giving you motion sickness: READ THIS!

With the recent launch of PlayStation VR an uncomfortable issue has come to light.  The exciting and immersive gameplay is leading some users to experience differing degrees of motion sickness while playing their favourite games.  Recently dubbed as "VR sickness", this phenomenon is a normal occurrence as gamers brains are not yet conditioned to the sensation of movement in a virtual reality world.  Not all gamers suffer VR sickness and most gamers will eventually become used to the sensation and overcome the motion sickness element.  It's just like getting used to spending time on a boat or riding a roller coaster and has been nicknamed "getting your VR legs".  In my personal experience, certain games tend to trigger my VR sickness worse than others but as I continue to use the VR headset my symptoms seem to be disappearing.  Research suggests that this motion sickness is related to a mismatch in vistibular and visual systems of the brain.  This means that your eyes are sending one set of information while your senses send something completely different.  While similar in it's symptoms, VR sickness is just the opposite of motion sickness.  In cases of normal motion sickness, your eyes tell your brain the body is stationary while the senses scream movement, but with VR sickness the eyes relay movement while the senses say stationary.  VR sickness only affects a small percentage of VR gamers but nonetheless, VR sickness is a real thing.

Continue reading for some quick tips and tricks on how to avoid, control or alleviate the motion sickness associated with virtual reality gaming.

How to reduce VR sickness

Quit playing if the game is experiencing performance problems

VR sickness can be brought on or worsened if a game is continuously missing frames or glitching.  As refresh rate or frame rate are connected to motion sickness in VR, we recommend to restart the game or system or stop playing if the glitches can not be corrected.

Make sure the headset is properly adjusted

Having the PlayStation VR properly positioned so that your vision is clear and blur free can make a huge difference in how you feel while playing.

Sit down while playing (at least initially)

Your body and brain will feel a lot more stable if you are in a seated position, which will drastically reduce feelings of vertigo or motion sickness.  Luckily, the PlayStation VR is designed for use in a seated position anyways, so find yourself a comfortable seat that offers a clear view of the camera and get gaming.

There is a VR learning curve

Just like going on a boat for the first time, motion sickness can be a part of the experience.  Luckily, the nauseous, dizzy feeling subsides the longer you spend on the water and eventually disappears all together.  The same is true of VR sickness, so take your time, play in small doses at first and eventually your brain will become accustomed to virtual reality and your symptoms will go away.

Use ginger supplements

Ingesting a ginger supplement or ginger tea before playing can help reduce VR sickness in many people.  Ginger has long been known to help with nausea and motion sickness so applying it to VR sickness makes perfect sense.  There are other options available as well, such as acupressure wristbands (used for sea sickness) or other anti-nausea supplements like Gravol.  However, make sure you use other supplements with care as popping pills to play video games is hardly an ideal situation.

Don't play if you're tired or feeling sick

As motion sickness is directly tied to inner-ear perception, anything impairing that function will have an adverse effect on your virtual reality experience.  A cold, flu, ear infection or even plain tiredness has been known to increase the onset risk or symptoms of VR sickness.

If you feel sick, STOP PLAYING

This is not the time to grit your teeth and try to push through.  That's not how motion or VR sickness work.  The longer you try to stay in the game, the worse your symptoms will get and reportedly, pushing the limits can leave users feeling the effects for days.  There is also a concern that repeated long term motion sickness can make one more susceptible to the symptoms in the future.  If you start to feel the onset of VR sickness just take a break to clear your head before continuing.  Remember, the onset of VR sickness will diminish as you get used to virtual reality meaning that soon you can game as long as you want with no side effects.

Other tips & tricks

  • Chew gum or a piece of ginger root as you play
  • Position a fan to blow onto your face
  • Keep a peppermint scent stick at hand
  • Acclimatize slowly with the knowledge that eventually you won't get VR sickness anymore
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