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The "Proof of loonacy" Dept.:
MailBag for Issue #10

Comments by Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman

Every week our associate editor takes on the big ol' pile of mail for your reading something to say? Send it in. You just might win a swanky loonygames t-shirt. Letters are presented exactly as they are recieved.

Responses on the "Sick of Gaming" follow up article:

Subject: Game Sickness

Thanks for the great articles on this subject!

I am a Military Aviator and avid 3D gamer. I have experienced simulator sickness and gaming sickness and though the symptoms are very similar I would have to say that they are not caused by the same thing.

The simulator sickness I experienced was caused by poor motion matching of the box with the visuals (i.e., we would quickly bank to 20 degrees and the visual would agree but it would take the box longer to get there due to the limits of its hydraulics).

This quickly caused the crew to become very uncomfortable. I noticed the effects starting and brought it to the attention of the controller (In the box with us) He then started watching and quickly lost it. I avoided the worst effects by ignoring the visuals and just watching the gauges. (They were updating at the same rate as the box itself.) This has since been fixed by a new host computer that keeps the timing between visual and box much closer.

As for gaming sickness; Duke3D when I was tired would get me a bit but the worst offender was Outlaws by Lucas. Software was ok but when they released the D3D (or maybe just 3Dfx) patch I became unable to play it single player. As my gaming friends chided me I kept at it in multiplayer and overcame the effects and was then able to play the single player game to conclusion. I think this coincides with others that talk of being able to compensate over time. Oh if I go back to play it now I experience the same effects as before.

A subject of interest to me is the longer term (6-12 hours after) effects. By regulation we are grounded for 12 hours after a simulator hop but there is no research into the need to ground folks after 3D games. The effects are similar and the possible consequences are severe.

Thanks again for a great article. This one is going up on the Wardroom Wall.

Bob Makowsky

Definitely a unique perspective on the subject! We've had a few people write in and suggest some time away from the game helps alleviate the symptoms, maybe being gameless for 12 hrs after a game is the solution? Might be difficult for a few gamers though..."must...use....mouse....need Quake!!!" :)

Subject: Simulator Sickness


I get simulator sickness. I love first person shooters, just crazy about them. Thankfully, my troubles are basically over. Here's why.

I've been playing computer games one way or another since about 1970 when my friend's dad let us play a purely text based version of "moon lander" on the hospital computer. However, the only gaming I did while I was in grad school and post-doc (1985-1994) was on an old Commodore I inherited and then on an 8086 I bought, so it was limited to Infocom games. Classic games, of course, but I missed several generations of computer gaming.

Well, about 4 years ago I got a real job and a modern computer, and I loaded up DOOM...... I went crazy, this is what I had wanted ALL MY LIFE, and then, after playing for several hours, til I had a blister on my palm from unaccustomed mouse use, it hit. I went green. I could only play for a few minutes before I had to lie down. Despair.

But then Quake came out and I tried it and God/Carmack be praised, I didn't hurl. As long as I was careful to sit back from the screen and not run wildly through tight passages, I was okay. I've been playing ever since. I use a SpaceOrb when I can (damn you Monolith, with Direct Input, it's not that hard to support advanced controllers out of the box) because in addition to its not agravating my occaisional repetitive stress flareups, it allows me to sit back comfortably in my chair.

Okay, details. Duke Nukem came out. Couldn't play it. Hurl city. Descent 2 (and this is where it get's weird), no problems. Played it alot. Redneck Rampage, had to play it, too damn funny to miss. I bought my Orb to play Redneck Rampage and sat in a low chair about 5 feet from the screen in a reclined position and I could manage, til the levels got too crowded to run on my P100. Jedi Knight (could play it, but I had to be more careful than Quake). Shogo, about the same as Jedi.

So my preliminary verdict is that true 3d engines don't set off my simulator sickness too badly (as long as the levels don't have lots of twisty little passages), but 2 1/2 D engines like DOOM and Build are a problem. It could be something else. For awhile I thought it might be framerate, but I don't think so, cause my current machine will clock Shogo and Unreal at framerates better than my old machine did Doom and I can still play. It could be some field of view angle thing, and the one time I increased my fov in Quake I felt a little quesy and put it back to the default 90 immediately for fear I might trigger some permanent problem. Like I said, I love shooters and I don't want to risk losing them, and given that the mind is involved I'm very careful about possible psychosomatic effects.

Anyway, you wanted input, so here it is.

Larry (ficta) Brown

I'm with you on that, Larry....I'm fine playing Quake/Quake 2/Shogo/Unreal, but Doom makes me sick. I discovered yesterday, however, that increasing my rate in Quake 1 can make me weird too, I went from a rate of 1500, to one of 10000. And immediately my eyes felt all wicky. Now, given it could just be my eyes yelling at me to put my damn glasses on (I loathe the things, and only wear them when absolutely necessary), but I thought the difference was interesting.

And even more on Duke and Elaine (God, will it ever end?!)

Subject: To Elaine O'Neal, re: Birth of a Gamer

Just wanted to drop you a note and let you know how much I enjoy reading your column. I've been playing games for so long it's refreshing to hear the thoughtful reflections of someone who's approaching it as a wholly new experience. Not only that, but I'm glad to see someone seriously addressing the social ramifications of the games we play and the types of interaction they encourage -- and discourage. Portrayal of gender roles in particular requires serious re-examination, and I admire your treatment of the subject so far. Good work, keep it up. I look forward to your next update.


PS -- As an antidote to the Duke, you might want to try Trespasser. I've heard really good things about it, especially when it comes to puzzle-solving and gameplay. The protagonist is also a woman, and I look forward to reading what you have to say regarding the portrayal of female protagonists in games (including Lara Croft, the Silicone Wonder).

Having just spent the last 2 days face deep in Trespasser, I can say I'd love to see Elaine's reaction as well, I'm sure it'd be entirely different than that of yours or mine, as she has no previous expectations of what a first person shooter should be, whereas we do. Unfortunately, the system requirements of the game are significantly higher than the machine Elaine has so...don't count on seeing her play it anytime soon.

And the winner of this week's loonygames t-shirt is....

Subject: The Game That Brought It All Back

The Game That Brought It All Back

This is how my gaming had been going lately. I get all excited about some hyped PC, PS, or N64 game but then I get the game and become board with it in a mater of hours. It seemed nothing could hold my attention the way games of the past could. I can still remember the hours I spent on the NES. Why was it that those simple games with their 8 bit graphics held my attention better than today’s 3D games with all their bells and whistles? Sure I have had some fun playing multi-player games like Quake and Star Craft, but nothing like the hours I spent playing Metroid or Bionic Commando. The games of today were for the most part uninspired. Are game play and graphics mutually exclusive? I just found out the answer to that question is NO!

A little over a week ago I had just picked up Shogo, and was having a good time with it. It is a good game. Nothing revolutionary but good non the less. I had completely forgot about another HYPED game that I had put $10 down on a few months back. In fact I had almost completely lost interest in this game all together. I got the call from Electronic Boutique that this game had come in, and that they would only hold a copy until the end of the night. I wasn't in the mood to drive so I made up some lame excuse so that they would hold it for one more day. The next day I picked up the best game I have played in years! (Why the hell did I wait and extra day? I am still kicking myself.)

By now you might have guessed, but that game is Metal Gear Solid. I know, I know, you have read all the reviews and heard all the hype, but they still don't do this game justice. I played this game for two days straight. I did not want to sleep, and I forgot to eat! Now this is like the old days on the NES, where a game takes you over and wont let go. I love everything about this game!

I know there are those out there that will criticize this game for one reason or another, but don't listen to them. Any flaws in this game are insignificant as a whole. This is a game that as soon as you finish, you want to play again. It is that good.

Now I know there a lot of PC gamers out there that will say "But it is a console game!" What the F! is that suppose to mean? So what! Some of the best games of all time are console games. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a PII 300 with a Voodoo 2 for nothing. I love good games. It does not matter to me were they come form. I will let people argue over what is better Nintendo, Sega, Sony, or the PC, while I am playing all the great games that each has to offer.

If you miss out on MGS and you love games the way I do. Then I feel sorry for you. Game developers should be sitting down and taking notes! This is the way you make a game!! I love the feeling I get when I am fighting a boss and I think I have him beat just to find out that that was only the beginning. That is one thing that a lot of PC games are missing. Good bosses. An action game should have no fewer than 5 bosses, and there should be a trick to beating the bosses. Not just put on your most powerful weapon and shoot. There should also be a payoff for beating a boss, like increased max life, new weapon, or a new ability. Make me want to beat a boss! Not just because I am looked in a room with no place to go. Give me something cool I can’t get anywhere else.

It would be great if all games had the depth of story and game play of Metal Gear Solid. That should be the goal of any game from this point on. MGS made me realize why I still love playing games! That is a great gift. Thanks Konami! I hope Half-life and Zelda 64 can do the same for me.

Thanks for letting me go off!

Anton Kryzsko

Wow. I played some of Metal Gear Solid at E3, and definately had fun, but I didn't think it was THAT good. I haven't played the final version yet, but I do love Shogo, and don't know about this one beating it. But...anybody who loves a game THIS much deserves a loony t-shirt, as he truly must be loony. :)

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Credits: MailBag logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. The MailBag is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and not nice.