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Gaming and Motion Sickness
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VERTIGO IS NOT A  JIMMY STEWART MOVIE

Vertigo, contrary to the title of the Jimmy Stewart movie, is not the fear of heights. It is, however, the feeling of dizziness, as if the world is spinning around the sufferer. Severity and types of symptoms can vary to include feeling unbalanced, nausea, vomiting, headache and more.

Vertigo can have many causes. The most common is BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Often this occurs when tiny canaliths (crystals) move from their normal position and pool in the inner ear. This is triggered when head position is changed, usually lying down or bending over, and tends to be short lived. However, BPPV can occur for no diagnosed reason.

Meniere’s Disease is the first illness to be examined for when presenting Vertigo like symptoms. Unfortunately, this disease is not curable and eventually hearing loss is generally the end result.

Not all those who suffer with motion sickness are also sufferers of Vertigo but they are similar in that they are both related to the vestibular system and tend to walk hand in hand. Symptoms are often comparable and coping methods tend to parallel each other.

As an older avid gamer and game tester with BPPV, I have had to learn ways to combat motion sickness. Because not all methods work all of the time with all games, it takes a lot of trial and error to find what works for each individual. I wanted to share some tips on how I combat motion sickness during gameplay.


AVOIDANCE

This is not the word most gamers want to hear but it is the most sensible one. If you know a game is going to cause distress, do not play it. First person point of view is a trigger for me and for many others, and I have missed out on many a game because of it. While I may choose to test a game with that perspective, in my personal time, I do not and will not partake regardless of how badly I want to. This may be limiting but there are still so many game worlds that can and should be explored.

Many developers create games with both first person and third person perspective, which has been a godsend. If Skyrim had been first-person only, I would never have logged hundreds of hours exploring and interacting with that world. Bethesda has a knack for creating games that can be played in both perspectives and I wish more publishers would follow suit. 


OPTIONS

Many developers offer some accessibility options. It is always a good idea to change these according to what works for you. This might take some tweaking but for me, I know that reducing the mouse or controller sensitivity can do wonders. I tend to do this for any game that has very rapid movements, regardless of perspective.




MEDICATION

Many do not want to deal with medication, which is understandable. Because I have vertigo I have a prescription for Antivert, sounds fancy but the same exact ingredients can be found in any OTC motion sickness medication. There are other medications but meclizine, the generic name for the medication, tends to be the most effective with little side effects other than some grogginess. This usually wears off as one becomes accustomed to taking it.




GINGER

Ginger has been shown to stave off motion sickness and nausea. “But ginger tastes bad,” you might say. And I agree, alone it tastes awful but good news, there are ginger candies. They can be an acquired taste, however, the benefits outweigh the bad taste in your mouth. Ginger can be found crystalized and sweetened, and come in both hard and chewy candies, which I would recommend over shoving a piece of raw ginger in your pie hole but if you feel the need to try, remember I told you not to.

CANDY

If you are a person than cannot abide by taking medication to combat motion sickness and gag at the thought of ginger, any hard candy can help alleviate motion sickness as long it’s used while gaming. The act of chewing or sucking can divert attention away from the stimuli that causes motion sickness. In this way, chewing gum can also be effective in staving off nausea and dizziness.

HYDRATE

I always have a drink at hand, be it water, lemonade, or ginger ale. Staying hydrated is essential in staving off not only motion sickness but headaches as well. This is not only a tip for gaming but for everyday life in general. However, it’s best to avoid caffeinated drinks because they can lead to dehydration, which would make symptoms of vertigo and motion sickness worse. Yes, I can hear all you coffee drinkers groaning right now.




WALK AWAY 

If all else fails and you begin to feel light-headed, walk away. Get up from your desk, take a walk around the house, and get some fresh air. If nothing is working to combat motion sickness, do not continue to play. I would suggest this even if the person does not normally suffer ill effects from gaming but is having a bad day. If you feel ill, push away from your desk and do something else. Even lie down for a bit if that’s an option.

READ THE ROOM aka YOURSELF

Some of the above work for me some of the time but I do have off days where nothing is going to help, and I have learned to listen to my body. I get up in the morning and ask myself “Body, how do you feel today?” and if my body says “Not so good, Drarry,” I make an executive decision for both my body and myself and choose to forego gaming. It may not be what I want but it’s what I need. Always pay attention to what you need even if it is not what you want. Unless you enjoy the feeling of the room spinning around you and yakking into your garbage can, then have at it.

*If you are suffering vertigo like symptoms frequently and have not been diagnosed, it is best to visit your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying illness.


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  • Vexwryn
    July 04, 2024

    I had no clue about ginger candies- this was super informative. 

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