Are You Sick of Games?
By Jeff "nonick" Solomon
Ever get sick of playing a game? Sure. Have you ever gotten sick from playing a game? Believe it or not, the 3D virtual worlds that we inhabit when we play first-person games like Quake and Unreal have become so authentic, so completely engrossing, that people are actually getting sick from playing them!
Gaming has advanced to a level of reality that is beginning to infringe on our senses' ability to discern simulated environments from the real world. Sure, we know that we're not running around a dungeon with a shotgun, but our ears and eyes have a harder time reaching the same conclusion. The result? Confusion between the senses that can cause headaches, nausea, vertigo, and dizziness while playing and, even more surprising, sometimes for long periods of time after playing.
Welcome to the world of simulator sickness, a condition similar to motion sickness that is caused by exposure to virtual environments. Have you ever wondered why "virtual reality," once a hot buzz-phrase, has faded from the front pages of magazines like Wired and Scientific American? Does it seem strange that immersive-world technology has taken a back seat to other advances, such as speech recognition and artificial intelligence?
The answer lies partly in the fact that virtual reality technology - the concept behind games like Quake, Duke, and Unreal - has some very serious side effects. So serious, it seems, that it might be impossible for futuristic concepts such as VR helmets and holodecks to really catch on for a large portion of the world's population.
Worse, as 3D gaming technology becomes more advanced, we might very soon reach a critical mass of technical capability that is simply too real for the majority of people who want to play! At the rate 3D accelerators are advancing, this could happen very shortly, if it hasn't happened already.
loonygames has the scoop on this unusual phenomenon that could become a serious problem for the future of interactive 3D gaming, which is getting better and more realistic by the day. And, apparently, more dangerous. Hordes of people stumbling away from their computers or gaming systems is the last thing we need right now.
This report aims to explain what is happening. What is simulator sickness? How can it be caused by video games? Which video games can trigger it? How can you tell if you're prone to getting it? How can you avoid it? I'll address all of these issues, but be warned: this is new territory. As far as we can tell, this is one of the first extensive looks into the effects of 3D gaming on people's sensory systems!
It's important to understand that the information contained in this report is based on preliminary research that was aimed at finding out the correlation between simulator sickness and simulators. Not video games. As far as I've been able to tell, there are no published reports that investigate simulator sickness and gaming specifically.
I spent several weeks researching this issue, and most of my efforts have landed me in military territory. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have been aware of this issue for years, since they've been using advanced 3D simulation software to train their troops for a long time. Most of the juicy facts and details that you'll find in this article come directly from military reports (see our works cited section for the URLs used for this research).
So, sit back and read up on a subject that will surely become more prominent as 3D gaming- and the technology behind it- becomes more commonplace and accessible to everyone. That headache throbbing in the back of your head ain't from your father's Pong!
|Credits: Are You Sick of Games? is © 1998 Jeff Solomon. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it, as it can make you (or us, for that matter) really sick.|