Simulation Sickness in Video Gaming

It’s no secret I have played video games my whole life. I played Doom and Quake back when I was in jr high and high school. No problems. In fact, I was pretty darn good at them. We had LAN parties that could go 24+ hours. No problems other than Mt. Dew overload and lack of sleep.

borderlands screenshot

A few years back I was playing Borderlands with my hubby and brother and noticed every time I played I started getting super nauseous. Like, bad. It took me longer than it should have to make the connection with playing the game, but once I did I was determined to keep playing. I took so much Dramamine that when I wasn’t playing Borderlands I was pretty much asleep (and actually with the Dramamine, I was probably asleep while playing Borderlands. That stuff knocks me out). It was very upsetting to me since I play tons of games and I loved Borderlands… I wanted to play! Luckily, that was a unique case. Other than riding in the backseat of a car or riding amusement park rides. Those things also never used to make me sick but suddenly were taboo for my tummy.

overwatch screenshot

Then along came Overwatch. Blizzards hot new FPS. And, it happened again. I started suspecting that it was FPS games and just decided to back off of them but play everything else. I would love to play Overwatch, but am happy to stick with Heroes of the Storm and World of Warcraft for my Blizzarding.


Planet Coaster is another game that I have to be careful with. As I mentioned above, I have to use Dramamine to go to an amusement park. Well, Planet Coaster has this awesome feature where you can “ride” the rides after they are built. So cool! And after doing this once, I promptly got sick. Yup… a virtual roller coaster made me need to throw up. Luckily I still play this game just fine as long as I don’t “ride” the rides.

lego star wars screenshot

So what brought this up right now? Well, yesterday was Star Wars Day (May The Fourth Be With You). So I thought I would celebrate by getting the Lego Star Wars games on Steam. I have played Lego games a lot before on the console (I love Lego Dimensions and Lego Indiana Jones). I have wanted to play the Star Wars games for a while and they were on sale for Star Wars Day… score! Or not… I happily installed the game and played for about an hour wondering why my stomach was upset. Finally it dawned on me. It was motion sickness/simulation sickness again! With friggin Lego Star Wars?! Yup. I had to turn the game off and go to bed early, and this morning I am still feeling it a little. Gonna put off my exercising until later today… when my head rights itself again.

However, that did create a theory I want to try- maybe my brain just can’t handle these games on the computer? Maybe I’m too close to it? Maybe I need a better monitor? Like I said, I play Lego Dimensions on the console just fine. I’m going to test that when I’m feeling better and sit on the futon across from my computer table and use my Xbox controller to try playing Lego Star Wars.

There hasn’t been a whole lot of research done on simulation sickness, but I am comforted to know that I am not the only one who experiences this. In fact, there are tons of articles online from people who either have the same things happen as me, or worse.

So what is wrong with the brain? What causes this?

Apparently it is the brain responding to the fact that there is all this moving around on the screen but your body is not actually moving. The brain thinks that you are hallucinating because of poisons and so it tries to vomit to get rid of the poison. Nice. Same (but opposite) thing with my riding in the back seat of a car… the body is moving but I’m not getting the same visual sensations as when I’m looking forward in the front seat. So… naturally I must be poisoned or something 😉

The sad thing is that people have actually argued with me over this. I have been in verbal fights because people think I am lying or something. Trust me, I love playing video games and would not lie about wanting to puke. If I don’t like a game, I say so. And there are plenty of games that I stink at but still play just because they are fun. I’m not competitive… I’m not using this as an excuse. If I were… then what is my motive behind Lego Star Wars?!

When I feel better I am going to try the whole sitting away from the screen thing to see if it helps. It would be pretty cool if all I have to do is change from PC to console gaming for these “trigger” games. But reading online, it sounds like other people have the same effect when playing on the console as they do the PC. Dramamine helps, but also puts me to sleep. And really, even with the Dramamine it just extends how long I can play before getting ill.

Have you ever had Simulation/Motion Sickness in video gaming?

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6 Responses to Simulation Sickness in Video Gaming

  1. Tami says:

    I’ve never had that problem (thank goodness) but I’m sure that everyone on my team when I’m playing FPS games wants to throw up on me because of how badly I play that style of game. I’m probably not affected by simulation sickness because my character isn’t really moving very much and the only thing on my monitor is the wall that my toon has run smack in to and I can’t seem to get them away from the wall. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Terrence Koch says:

    This idea falls in the “so crazy it just might work” category. I have no scientific or allegorical backing for this, it’s just something I thought up. If the potential cause is visual stimulation without physical movement/stimulation, what if you do something that also “moves” or stimulates the body at the same time. What comes to mind is one of those shiatsu full back massagers. I have one of those and I can tell you from experience that if you relax, it moves or rocks your body as the kneading balls move up and down the back of your seat. Just a suggestion. Have no idea if it will work or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. matyldasbarn says:

    Maybe you should get Wii 🙂 That should work for you if the reason is the lack of movement.
    I get a little bit sick when I play FPS like Call of Duty and the look sensitivity is set too high. You can change that in the settings though. Of course, then you won’t be as fast as the other players when you turn around or something.
    Also, the game Life is Strange made me feel a bit sick, again because of the look /camera settings.
    If you don’t get sick watching movies that have a lot of movement, then you should not be sick when playing videogames with similar content, I would think. It might actually have to do with the camera / look sensitivity in that certain game.


  4. Emma says:

    My nana has this really badly. She couldn’t even play the first ‘A Link between worlds’ Zelda because of it. She is a pretty grandma who loves video games but she has to stick to the 2D games.


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