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Sep 15, 2008

The Gamer Sickness: I've Got It and You Don't Want It

I have been a gamer for a long time and back in the days of the Nintendo NES system, Sega Master System, etc; I could spend hours on end playing video games and I would too. I would have marathon days of gaming that started Friday after school when I hopped my backyard fence to go to the local video store to pick up a new game for rent and would end on Sunday when I racked up two days worth of late fees and enough pop and chips to feed a small army.

Sadly my days of marathon gaming ended when gaming evolved beyond the 2D side scrollers and overhead worlds we had known for so long. See I like probably many other get a reverse motion sickness when I play any game that is set in a 3D world with a first person view or even sometimes a first person view with really fast game play.

Basically what scientists believe happens to me while I’m playing these games is that while my eyes are seeing rapid movements on the computer or TV screen, my body isn’t moving at all, so there’s an inner conflict within my brain as to what’s really going on. Since my the eyes and body disagree as to what is happen, my brain sides with my body and responds the way a brain should when a person is seeing things that aren’t suppose to be there - it throws up to remove any poisons that may be causing the hallucinations.

For anybody who’s never experienced this type of problem, believe me it sucks. I can’t play any first person shooter longer than a few of hours or less depending on the position of the planet Venus or how many games the Red Socks are winning. Honestly I don’t know why some days are better than other, but they just are. Other games like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess with their first person views will still get me after a while too because of all their rapid movements still confuse the f*ck out of my brain I guess.

My condition is worst because I get the fun addition of headaches on top of the nausea, so either I’m singing to the Porcelain Gods for 5 minutes or spending a few hours in bed doped up on pain meds all because I wanted to get in a couple of hours of Unreal Tournament III.

I remember the first time I got sick from playing videogames too. I had just rented a Nintendo 64 and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the weekend from Roger Video and after playing for an hour or two I got so sick. I couldn’t figure out why either but I did remember my eyes beginning to hurt, then my head and finally my stomach. It was the beginning of a new generation of gaming and the beginning of a new form of hell for a game addict like me.

I always wondered why I never felt the effects of the gaming sickness on PC FPSs like Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein before the Nintendo 64 came out, but then I remembered the fact my Dad never let me play for hours on end on his computer like my Mom let me play on my game systems. He, unlike my Mom, actually used the computer a lot and I didn’t have a lot of time to play on it when I went over to visit with him on the weekends. That’s when I usually went and played with his old Commodore 64 instead.

I know I’m not the only one to suffering with this horrible affliction and while there are some tricks for us to counteract the effects of videogame dizziness like sitting further away from the screen, changing the contract or resolution on your TV screen to sharpen the picture or trying to look away from the screen every few minutes to ground your eyes, this will always be a huge damper on us hardcore gamers.

It limits your game choices, your time spent playing games, and ultimately makes you a little bitter towards people who don’t get sick playing. I’ve always said I’m not a big first person shooter fan and now you know why … because they really do make me sick.


Islanti said...

A few things that may help with your motion sickness:
1. Dramamine or similar medicine can help. These are even available in skin patches now.
2. Sit further from the TV.
3. Stop every 15 minutes or so to take a short break. Be sure to look away from the screen, move around a bit. Keep a digital timer going that'll remind you to do this.

Not perfect solutions and they won't work for everyone. It's at least something to try!

Mitch said...

Wow, this would definitely suck for me if I had it. I've been an avid gamer since the first Famicon system in Japan came out.

I got motion sickness from the 2D games, but I think I grew out it or something. I love 3d FPS like Call of Duty 4, Counter Strike etc. And 3rd person MMORPGS like WoW, and currently Warhammer Online.

I hope you find a fix for yourself, and you get my sympathy for sure as a fellow avid gamer. It would suck to not be able to do what you love most.

Alicexia said...

Motion sickness/simulation sickness happens because the fast movements of the tv. Because of the fast movements, the body responds with the dizzy feeling.

Mostly because it thinks that you have been poisoned and is trying to make you throw it up. There is a few remedies to help you deal with it. Such as Gravel (Don't know if I spelt it right.) or do what I do and drink lots of water or in my case apple juice.

If you continue playing first person shooters your body will become immune to the fast camera angles. So you will be able to tolerate it.

But just so you don't make the same mistake as me. If you do get use to it, make sure you play a first person every so often or your body will loose it again.