I wish I had heard of simulator sickness beforehand

So I had a highly embarrassing moment last night, of course at the time I thought there was something seriously wrong. I’m sure I’ll look back on it and laugh, but at the moment I still feel like a complete dork.

Last night I went over to Joe’s apartment for a weekly gaming party that has been going on, but it was the first time I went. I’ll admit I’m not the biggest gamer, but I am easily entertained so I figured why not? When I arrived they were playing Age of Empires, so I kicked back and watched while they finished. Next we played OpenArena, which uses the open source code of Quake III, I believe. I have limited experience with first-person shooter games (Playing a little Half-Life in middle school doesn’t count for much does it?), but I decided I would take a stab at playing. Even though I was pretty terrible I was still having fun getting the occasional kill.

After helping my team lose we played again and after about 5 minutes I began to feel a little nauseous. I attributed it to being up late and maybe a little from looking at a computer screen so long. Within about 3 minutes I went from nauseous to dizzy, cold, sweaty, and pale. I started to freak out a little because it happened so quickly and I could tell that I was very pale and I’m sure everyone at the party noticed too. I seriously thought there was something legitimately wrong because I have never had a combination of those symptoms come on so severe and so quickly. I went outside to get some air and Edwin (I think, I was sort of freaking out) suggested that it could possibly be motion sickness from the game. I considered the possibility, but I have never felt motion sickness like this before. So, after thoroughly freaking everyone at the party out, including Joe (sorry Joe!), who was kind enough to walk me home, I went to bed.

This morning I was still feeling highly embarrassed because whatever had happened to me was clearly connected to playing OpenArena. So I googled motion sickness and gaming to see if anything popped up and I found out that there was something to it. It is called simulator sickness and because of increasingly sophisticated graphics it has become more common. There are many theories on what actually causes simulator sickness, but it is clear that it is a real problem.

A quote from the article I found: “This is actually pretty amazing: a computer-driven, virtual environment can fool the body well enough to cause some of its most basic support systems to become confused. This didn’t happen twenty years ago with Pong. In fact, while people have been experiencing simulator sickness for years in training environments (for commercial airline and military use), only recently have video games become sophisticated enough to produce the kind of virtual world that is realistic enough to cause simulator sickness.”

Now if I had only known this beforehand I wouldn’t have made such a fool of myself.

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1 Response to “I wish I had heard of simulator sickness beforehand”


  1. 1 Laura April 29, 2007 at 10:47 am

    We used to call this “Doom Head.” Doom was the precursor to Quake. My husband and I used to turn out all the lights in the house and play each other. We’d quit when one or both of us announced we had doom head.


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