The first game to ever make me sick was Rugrats: Search for Reptar. I was only seven years old, curled up on the couch, sick as can be into a trash can. I remember not understanding why I was so ill, I just knew that it got worse when I toddled about as Tommy Pickles. I spent years fighting that sensation, slowly learning that I just couldn’t play some video games. The intersection of my favorite hobby and my extreme sensitivity made me miserable, and often meant I got left out of first-person multiplayer experiences with friends. Now, whenever I open just about any game, my first inclination is to pop open the settings menu and check for anything that will bring me some relief. So, developers, I’m begging you, please add more motion sickness settings to your game — I am physically incapable of playing without them.
My history with games that make me motion sick is a weird one. There are some obvious games, like Dying Light, where the parkour makes my stomach crawl up into my throat immediately. Then there’s Spyro, which only makes me sick when I use his running headbutt. Some of them surprise me, while others I should have probably known better than to try — like Mirror’s Edge 2. At my first E3 in 2015, I played the Mirror’s Edge 2 demo and dry-heaved into a trashcan minutes later. Embarrassed doesn’t begin to cover it when you have a reaction like that in public.
It’s frustrating. My friends will ask me to play Overwatch, but I remember the first few times I tried it, I wound up so dizzy I stumbled to my bed. When things get intense in Left 4 Dead 2, I have to ask my friends to take a break — my limit is usually an hour. Sometimes, I’ll pop a Dramamine to help me play some of my favorite action games like Tomb Raider, but it doesn’t always work. I recently tried the trick with Resident Evil 7 and just couldn’t make it, I got too dizzy and gave up almost immediately. Besides, even when it does work, the Dramamine usually knocks me out for the day. That means I can waste four or five hours just trying to get in one with a game.
I don’t know why I’m this way, it happens in cars and planes, too. Sometimes, I take special medication on planes to calm my stomach, and I can’t sit in the backseat of cars without puking. Occasionally, I’ll be okay, and I just magically play a first-person game like I wasn’t so sensitive, but most of the time, I’ve got my head on my desk, and I’m taking deep breaths. I often get so frustrated I’ll cry, it’s just aggravation from being left out — and from not knowing how to stop it.
As someone who get easily motion sick, I appreciate games with FOV sliders and the ability to adjust motion blur. These don’t always guarantee I’ll be okay, but sometimes they mean the difference in me lasting 30 minutes or an hour or two. Games with detailed options like Paradise Killer fill me with joy. That game still made me wretch, I won’t lie, but Kaizen Game Works’ complex motion sickness settings were an earnest attempt at trying to make the game more accessible for me. And that’s more than most games are willing to do for me.
I know I’m an outlier. I know I get sick far easier than most people, and it’s not even always clear what makes me sick. Is it the blur? Is it the FOV? Perhaps a certain mechanic? Honestly, I’m usually not sure, but there are often some safer guesses to help make a game work for me a little better, like giving me the option to see more of the screen, calming down intense blurs, and the option to go through action sequences a bit slower. I also really appreciate the ability to increase font sizes and remove flashing lights. These settings help a lot of people, not just those like me with motion sickness.
I guess my point is, I just wish more games did the minimum here. An FOV slider is great, but there are plenty of other little options you can give me that can change my whole experience. It often doesn’t work for as long as I want it to, but those options give me time. These settings are the difference between me sitting out another fun FPS with my friends, or at least getting an hour or two in before I break.
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Andrea Shearon is a news editor at TheGamer who loves RPGs and anything horror related. Find her on Twitter via @Maajora.
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