Virtual Realty: Sick Technology or Technology that Makes You Sick?

New study found players of VR games were quick to get motion sickness, especially women.


Virtual Reality (VR) systems may have a certain coolness factor, but they also make people sick. And we’re not talking about roll your eyes kind of disgust, but rather, a physical tendency to want to vomit.

That’s what a team of scientists at the University of Minnesota recently reported. After testing a group of people engaged in VR play using the Oculus Rift headset, most found themselves dealing with motion sickness, especially the women, according to this article on ScienceNews. More than half of the 36 participants felt sick within 15 minutes of playing the VR game. Gender differences also were significant. Women are much more likely to experience motion sickness than men (as just one example, for one game the difference was 56 percent of men versus 78 percent of women affected). 

So-called VR sickness or simulator sickness isn’t necessary a new phenomenon. As far back as the 1980s, the U.S. military noticed that pilots participating in flight simulators struggled with motion sickness, the ScienceNews article noted. The big change is thanks to low-cost units such as Facebook’s acquired Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR, everyday consumers are starting to check out VR, and the motion sickness issue could be a barrier to widespread adoption rates.

So grab a VR headset—and a barf bag—and get ready to have some fun!

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