New research claims that people who suffer from cybersickness in virtual reality can adapt over time
It has been slow to gain popularity, but there is no doubt that some form of virtual reality is likely to be the next frontier in computer interaction. Unfortunately, some people suffer from motion sickness when using virtual reality. New research suggests that this problem, called “cybersickness”, can be overcome with practice.
Granted, “submit yourself over and over again to noxious stimuli to build tolerance” isn’t exactly a shocking and telling concept. Still, there was no reason to assume such a thing was possible given that it hadn’t been tested experimentally; most measures against cybersickness focused on hardware modification or software. Now, thanks to a group of researchers at Iowa State University, it’s been tested, and the results seem to indicate there’s hope for people who experience nausea, fatigue, and disorientation after using virtual reality.
The study used a sample of 150 undergraduate students. Students were called in to play a virtual reality survival simulation Jurassic World Evolution in three separate sessions, then in the fourth session, invited to play under the narrative puzzle Shadow Point. Both games were selected to be “moderately intense” in terms of their likelihood of causing cybersickness.
The conclusions were quite simple. Women and people who experienced motion sickness from other sources (such as reading in the car) were more likely to experience cybersickness and less likely to have their symptoms improve over gaming sessions. Overall disease scores on day three were 20% lower than on day one, and these gains also carried over to the second game of day four compared to a control group.
Not everyone suffers from cybersickness, but those who do risk being left behind as UI paradigms move inevitably towards VR. It’s not hard to imagine online gamers raging against VR gamers in much the same way we see a divide between controller grippers and mouse masters today.