On VR Sickness & Horses
I recently read, and posted about an article that appeared in CNBC. The writer, while impressed by VR, lamented the fact that he found himself suffering from acute VR sickness. This issue must continue to be addressed, and I think it will continue to be addressed. Higher frame rates and more advanced HMDs are coming. Producers are learning more and more about the production of VR content. And, quite simply, there is too much investment, too much money at stake, for this issue to be ignored.
It reminded me of an experience at SXSW a year ago. After a VR porn panel that featured our content manager Dinorah Hernandez, I was approached by a student, visiting from Germany. An evangelist, he had already conducted several virtual reality experiments, and, sporting a Gear VR rig of his own, asked me to watch the VR program he had shot.
The first segment of the program was filmed in a vast underground, probably an abandoned factory basement. The POV explored the space while I, In reality, stood in the middle of a conference hall beside a bank of HMDs we were using for a demo.
Queasiness seeped in quickly, a curious sensation because I am not all that sensitive to VR sickness; it was a new experience. This video was giving me more than I could handle, and I nearly threw in the towel. Luck was on my side. About 30 seconds later, the scene changed abruptly. I was still in motion, but now I was outdoors, riding a horse.
The nausea fell away rapidly. Spock would call this Curious, and I was reminded of two or three times I had experienced the VR rollercoaster demo. Here I was, on a horse in the virtual space, with the motion even less fluid than it had been in the basement. Yet, I felt fine. So, replacing the Gear VR with my persistently fallible pop-psych hat, I determined that, from a psychological perspective, I was able to suspend disbelief more easily. A horse is an independent conveyance. I don’t expect to control my movement through space.
As such, I was perfectly fine, and I reckon, by the same token, this is why a ride on a rollercoaster in a virtual reality is less nauseating than a leisurely walk through the virtual park.