Virtual reality headsets can make some people motion sick, but I have good news: you can overcome it!
First of all, if you have had a bad experience in the past — as I have — don’t let that hold you back. Newer headsets have made huge leaps in technology. Better screens and higher, more stable frame rates means that you are much less likely to feel any discomfort at all, but everyone is different and there are no guarantees.
To give yourself the best chance, I highly recommend following these basic, simple tips that can make all the difference when getting comfortable with virtual reality. I used to experience severe motion sickness with VR, but after following these suggestions I have finally been able enjoy this amazing technology.
Of course, these tips are made with Gran Turismo 7 and the PlayStation VR 2 in mind, but — aside from a few specific recommendations — they should be able to help anyone.
Table of Contents
- Short Sessions
- Start Slow (Literally)
- Watch Where You’re Going
- Keep Your Cool
- Chewing Gum
- Ginger and Meclizine
The most important piece of advice I have is to keep your play 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 is not what you want to hear when you have just unboxed your brand new VR headset, but trust me: if you only follow one piece of my advice, let this be it.
The trick is to stop before you ever feel any sense of discomfort. Even if you feel great, it can catch up with you suddenly and unexpectedly, even after you take the headset off. Take your time, and ease yourself into it.
If you do start to 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. As soon as your brain associates wearing the headset with a feeling of nausea, it can make the whole process of getting used to VR even more difficult.
Start Slow (Literally)
When you are loading up Gran Turismo 7 in VR for the first time, it’s an incredible experience and you will want to jump right into your favorite car and take it straight to your favorite track.
Don’t do that. Instead, use a slower car and — specifically — a convertible.
A slower car that gives you a clear view of your surroundings helps your brain process the motion. You can think of it similar to real-life: people don’t get “car sick” in convertibles with the top down, they get sick in cramped back seats with limited visibility.
This piece of advice actually comes from the creator of Gran Turismo himself, Kazunori Yamauchi, who specifically recommended I use the Mazda MX-5 Roadster the first time I tried PSVR 2. Sure enough, I had a great experience and never felt any discomfort at all.
Watch Where You’re Going
This next piece of advice also comes from Kazunori Yamauchi, and it’s an important one: look ahead while you are driving.
“I think the number one recommendation for not getting motion sickness while you’re driving is to race properly, really focus on driving,” Yamauchi-san said. “[Drive] how you’re supposed to drive a real car on a track. If you’re driving properly you can drive a much faster car and it still won’t make you sick. If you’re driving an LMP1 car and you’re looking horizontally, that’s not very good for your senses!”
Of course, that’s not to say you should avoid looking around — that’s part of what makes VR so fun — just be mindful about your speed when you do it, especially as you are starting out.
Keep Your Cool
As your body starts to experience motion sickness, it’s typical to feel hot and begin sweating. The actual reason this happens is beyond the scope of this video and is still not fully understood by science, but we do know that you can help fight nausea by counteracting this reaction.
Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes; perhaps even a t-shirt and shorts. If you can keep yourself from getting hot, this could actually go a long way to keep you from feeling sick.
You can take this a step further by placing a small fan in front of you while you’re playing. Maintaining air flow 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, the simple act of chewing gum has been shown in a medical study to “significantly alleviate” motion sickness when using VR.
There are various theories as to exactly why this is, but it doesn’t really matter! This is a simple, affordable way to keep from getting sick and it’s a good excuse to buy some candy!
Ginger and Meclizine
The practical tips that I’ve mentioned so far will go a long way in helping you out, but if you really want to ensure that you don’t get sick, you can find a wide variety of anti-nausea and anti-motion sickness remedies over-the-counter at your local drug store or pharmacy.
Ginger is a special ingredient that has been used for hundreds of years to treat nausea and you will find it in a wide variety of products. I personally like Dramamine Ginger Chews, which offer a “clinically tested dose of powdered ginger for […] motion sickness” — and they taste pretty good, too.
For the ultimate in prevention, I recommend any anti-nausea medication with an ingredient called meclizine. Meclizine is good to use with VR because, unlike other anti-nausea medication ingredients, it is less likely to make you feel sleepy or drowsy. Take it as directed about an hour before you expect to play, and it should last well through your play session.
You can find meclizine in brand-name products like Dramamine All Day Less Drowsy tablets, which I personally found to be very effective, but it is widely used in many other medications that you can find in most stores. Typically, anti-nausea medication labeled as “less drowsy” will feature meclizine, so be sure to check the ingredients.
Remember, it’s always recommended to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication, and of course, be sure to use any of these products as directed.
To summarize, if you want to give yourself the absolute best shot at not getting motion sickness with VR, follow these steps:
- Take a non-drowsy anti-nausea medication with meclizine about an hour before you play, or eat something with ginger.
- Dress in clothes that will keep you cool, like a t-shirt and shorts.
- Turn on a fan.
- Chew gum as you play.
- Drive slower cars with good visibility.
- Limit the time of your play sessions.
- Stop playing immediately if you feel any discomfort.
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 those of you with even the most sensitive stomachs.
Please let me know if these tips were useful and if you have your own remedies or suggestions, share them in the comments. Good luck, and have fun!
See more articles on PlayStation VR.