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Some gamers call me a wimp, but games like Spyro send me reeling and running for the bathroom in a matter of minutes. I get a massive headache, nausea, and sick to my stomach. I can play Portal, Ape Escape, Ico, Shadow of the Collosseus for longer. I think the problem has to do with the free-floating (or controllable) camera.

Is there a way to still play these games and not get sick?

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Well I can't play most FPS games - I'd feel nauseous in matter of minutes. I'm pretty sure lot more people are there who face the smae problem. For this reason I stick to RTS/ RPG (not those FPS/RPG hybrids) games :) –  Sathya Jul 8 '10 at 22:27
I get game headaches sometimes, after playing games for a few hours on end. You just have to go and do something for a while that doesn't involve a screen –  Keaanu Aug 12 '10 at 0:59
I get this too. It means I miss out on some great games :-( –  Sietse Sep 21 '10 at 12:00
@ChrisF Spyro isn't a first-person-shooter, and that's the example used by the OP. This question seems to be about the general cases (and the accepted answer gives a wide gamut of reasoning that can apply to FPS as well), so I believe it would be wiser to not tag it with a specific genre. –  Grace Note Sep 21 '10 at 12:23
Yes, it did improve - but each person is different. A combination of all the suggestions is what worked for me, specifically: Playing in a well-lit environment, a much brighter screen, brightening my game options, and playing in maximized mode. I noticed that with minimized windows, I was always leaning closer to see. To force myself to retain a good distance from the screen, I switched to a non-wheeled chair. I've also upgraded to a newer computer since then (8fps games are now 40fps) and that has been extremely helpful. –  rlb.usa Feb 21 '12 at 4:32

17 Answers 17

up vote 42 down vote accepted

Among other things, you may be sensitive to:

  • frame rate
  • strobing or shifting colors
  • sensation of movement
  • disparity between visual and other sensory input

Depending on your platform and environment you probably don't have much control over these. You can try the following, but as David said you should probably consult with your doctor also.

  • Don't play in a dark room - leave a lamp or other soft light on
  • Position your chair and screen so that you're sitting comfortably and looking directly ahead at the screen
  • Play with whatever visual settings are available to maximize frame rate and minimize visual strobing
  • Back up a bit so that the screen doesn't dominate your vision. This has two effects - it minimizes the sensory conflict, and also minimizes your awareness of screen refresh/frame rate
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A game specific question suggests changing the FOV setting might help as well –  Zommuter Feb 20 '12 at 7:14

I would talk to your doctor.

Anybody that tells you to try anything could risk your health and I would NOT advise.

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I think this response is a little over the top. Advice pertaining to your gaming environment hardly needs the intervention of a doctor! –  Daz Lewis Sep 21 '10 at 12:44
i don't think anything anyone has said here would risk your health, except maybe the answer that suggested using dramamine. turning on the lights, getting further from the tv, looking out a window every now and then--there's no way any of those things would be a risk to your health –  Kip Sep 21 '10 at 13:17
I think the idea is that one shouldn't assume that difficulty playing games comes from something that only affects game-playing. It's always good to consult with your doctor about things like this; while it's not a bad idea to try some of the remedies listed, make sure to get professional feedback as well to rule out anything serious. –  Dave DuPlantis May 3 '11 at 13:27
@Daz Lewis despite the fact that the EXACT SAME MESSAGE is listed by LAW in every video game manual published in the US? –  Ender Apr 21 '12 at 8:52
There is room for such a strong comment in some cases. I have a friend who had a seizure playing Xenosaga some years ago. Nausea, though? Not so much. It's almost certainly some kind of game-induced motion sickness. –  Crowbeak Oct 29 '12 at 9:34

Mythbusters looked at the various anecdotal and pharmaceutical cures for seasickness (which as I understand has the same triggers as stationary motion sickness), and they got positive results from Ginger extract.

Results here:

Your Mileage May vary, but I tried them, to play Halo reach. Normally just looking at the Halo reach Demo makes me feel dizzy and nauseous after a few seconds. I took two ginger pills, waited an hour and then happily played Halo reach for the next four hours with no discernible side effects.

Like I said YMMV, but Ginger pills definitely worked for me.

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+1 for Mythbusters. –  Ben Kennett Feb 14 '11 at 19:58

The first thing I'd say is ask yourself the following:

What is my gaming environment like?

  • How much light is in the room?
  • How far are you from the Monitor/TV/etc.
  • What are you sitting on?
  • What is your posture?
  • Are there windows in the room you can look out of?

Massive headaches and nausea may not just be caused by the game you're playing (though that can be a factor), but also by the exposure to flashing lights. The human brain actually has a hard time with flashing lights, especially at certain frequencies. Since a game often doesn't control this, it's not uncommon to experience these types of symptoms.

My advice is the following:

  • Make sure you're in a well lit room with good ventilation.
  • Don't play continuously for hours at a time, take 5 minute breaks
  • Don't get too close to the screen
  • Remember to Eat properly (you'd be surprised how big a difference a little Vitamin C can make).
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Along with all this, I'd recommend trying to play on a different TV. This could (possibly) cause a different "actual" framerate. –  Earlz Feb 14 '11 at 6:27
Eating is very important. Some people don't even realize that they spent five hours without eating anything or even going to the bath room! –  Chiron Sep 23 at 21:55

My wife got simulation sickness really easily. As an example, she could play Sims 1 and 2, but not 3. I've been with her for 15 years so I would like to add one more piece of advice to the ones already there:

  • As soon as you start experience some bad feelings, stop right away and get some fresh air. It will only get worse from that point.
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It is something that affects different people to different degrees. It's similar to motion sickness where the motion cues you get from your eyes don't match the cues you are getting from your ears.

You can only try various things to see what minimises the effect for you:

  • Take frequent breaks and/or make your breaks longer.
  • Sit further away from the screen so it doesn't fill your field of view.
  • Make sure the room is well lit - don't play in a darkened room.
  • Don't play when tired.
  • Change the resolution of the screen (if possible). As I mention in the comments, you might find that decreasing the resolution helps as it seems to be more prevalent with newer games. It could be that a lower resolution (and hence less realistic scene) works for most people, but equally it could make it worse for you.

You will need to try these things individually or in combination to see what works best for you. Unfortunately, it might be that none of them actually help.

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How would you suggest changing the resolution? Should it be bigger or smaller? Is it to avoid pixelation? Other than that this is a great answer. –  StrixVaria Sep 21 '10 at 12:03
Does that mean wearing earplugs would help? :) –  badp Sep 21 '10 at 12:07
@badp - no ;) it's the balance/orientation information not the sound :) –  ChrisF Sep 21 '10 at 12:11
@StrixVaria - I hesitated to suggest either direction as I fear it may depend on the individual. As it seems to be more prevalent with newer games it could be that a lower resolution works for most people, but I wouldn't like to bet on it. –  ChrisF Sep 21 '10 at 12:13

Some people suffer from motion sickness if the field-of-view of the games is different from what the brain expects. This is specially noticeable in first-person-shooters. For these people, tweaking the FOV might solve the motion sickness.

See also:

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Good to see someone's explaining this scientifically. This information needs to be given to more first-person game developers! Can you give an example of a game with changeable FOV so I can try it out? –  tenshi_a Aug 17 '11 at 9:10
All recent Valve games have FOV option (Team Fortress 2 is free-to-play; I'm not sure if the demo versions of other games were updated with a FOV setting - but the full version of them has it) –  Denilson Sá Aug 17 '11 at 16:19
TotalBiscuit: "Many of you may have noticed and I am one of the people afflicted by this, this is a very, very common thing indeed that if you are playing a game on a monitor, particularly a large monitor ... you are sitting there playing your game and you will get headaches, you will feel perhaps nauseous, you will feel lightheaded, it will be an unpleasant playing experience ... it's like having tunnel vision all the time, and your brain doesn't like it" –  Daniel Beck Jul 5 '14 at 20:18
The accepted answer mentions "disparity between visual and other sensory input", but this one nails it. Watch the FZDSCHOOL links, people. –  Mazura Aug 21 at 3:20

I used to have this problem when I started playing FPS games on my PC, and I know how much of a drag it is. I found that on my PC monitor if I dropped the game resolution to less than full screen it would minimize the motion sickness feeling. And after playing in less-than-fullscreen for a while the sickness went away.

As a bonus to overcoming that form of sickness I can now read in a car without getting sick, which is pretty cool. I used to get very queasy very soon if I put my head down to read while in a car.

If you're console gaming on a TV I would suggest moving away from the TV enough that it isn't taking up the biggest portion of items in your view. If you make the screen dominate your field of vision it will enhance the feeling that you're really moving.

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I find myself suffering from headaches quite quickly when gaming (not when browsing weirdly) and have found the following things useful:

  • Only play in a room which is well lit

  • Try to put your monitor against a light background, so there is less contrast between the screen and the surrounding environment

  • What type of monitor are you using? TFT? CRT? If it's a CRT switch to a TFT, if it's a TFT you could look at monitors with a higher refresh rate (120Hz~).

I don't know if anyone else has had any experience with this, but I've also looked into glasses with a special anti-glare coating on them in the past the most "recommended" of which being from these guys:

They might help with the headache side of things?

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I get this, and, for me at least, it's plain old motion sickness. Generally, I just try not to sling my mouse around as much until I get used to it. Like with seasickness, you can habituate yourself to the motion, and it'll stop bothering you. In my case, 6-8 hours cures me, and as long as I play regularly, the symptoms never return.

Of course, it can also be epilepsy, so might want to get yourself checked, or check yourself by looking at a seizure pattern (goes without saying, make sure someone is around).

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I had this problem all my life and pretty much never played FPS or similar games. Anyway, when Skyrim came out someone suggested to me that I try travel sickness pills. I bought a pack, took one an hour before I started playing, and for the first time in my life felt completely fine playing in FPS! I found that, after the pills ran out, I was so used to playing that the sickness never came back.

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I had this same experience in Skyrim and corrected it by always playing in a lit room with the brightness up to 100%, and on the 3rd person POV. –  rlb.usa Jan 9 '12 at 23:58

It's possible that Dramamine or other motion sickness remedies (like those bracelet things) could help for this kind of thing.

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I do hope you're not talking about those "Power Band" things. Those are completely placebos. (though it may be help just by thinking that they'll help, oddly enough) –  Earlz Feb 14 '11 at 6:30
@Earlz The ones with the hologram inside? Yeah, totally placebo. has a bunch of things, some of which (like the bracelet) are potentially pseudo-science. –  McKay Aug 18 '14 at 12:16

I heard that you can use some bracelets called "Sea Bands." They supposedly put pressure on a nerve in your wrist that is supposed to send the signal for nausea to your brain. By putting pressure on it, it prevents the signal for nausea to go to your brain and prevents motion sickness.

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The only thing I can suggest is fresh air and a break. Having a fan pointing directly on your face helps a lot and gives you a bit of extra time.

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Sony's game manual suggests when playing video games to avoid some of the ill induced symptoms by doing the following:

  1. Play in a well lit environment or with a light basically behind the screen
  2. Play on a small TV screen probably anything under a 27" TV
  3. Sit back as far as you can from the TV
  4. Take breaks, if you beat the game or lose on the first 2 or 3 attempts.. 15 minutes or more..
  5. Avoid playing when you are tired or need sleep.

If you read most game's manuals, the warnings are on the first page. I've failed to do that at one point and now I'm wiser than before ha!

From my personal experience, your brain and normal breathing is off track which can put your body into fight or flight mode or panic mode over long or short periods of game play. Remember , your brain controls your breathing patterns. Why you think you feel exulted after playing some of those fast paced high action games? Thats where the Nausea and feeling like you want to vomit comes into play.

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Hi Devin331 - In future, instead of adding a second answer, you can edit your existing answer and flag it for moderator attention if you feel like it should be undeleted :) –  Robotnik Aug 21 at 4:06

My advise is to read the first page of your manual that tells you how to avoid some of these issues...Now here'a a really big problem that people overlook when playing video games, its your off pattern breathing.. You playing games and your mind concentrating on the game and your breathing pattern gets off track ..That signals the brain that something is wrong and that's where you get your NAUSEA in the stomach as well as the HEADACHES comes in ..I stopped playing because i can't balance my brain and breathing correctly... The games are in excitement mode and your brain is not use to that kind of constant action ..Again most of the games are in hyper pattern speed in which the brain cant keep up with as well as your breathing ..It's more to it than just flashing light, sitting far away from the tv and etc ...If they just kill the hyper speed patterns from games in a more slower moment , then it would'nt be such as bad...

P.S. Mind and breathing if they are not regulating normally, then you are going to have some health issues......

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Video games re-wires the brain because it was not made for this kind of activity and in many instances can cause you great distress.
From my personal experiences from playing high action intense games will put your body in fight or flight response or great distress for some people. Blurred vision, tense muscles, continued headaches and etc. are signs too from flight response too.
If you play games like mind games, Family Feud, puzzles, board and card games or casino games, they require any excitable reactions. You can play them for hours with little or any side effects. For as high action games, the brain regulates your breathing and when the two are out of balance, the body goes into total chaos. Why you think you have nausea after you played certain games?
And that doesn't end there. Why you feel fatigued after you play certain games? The brain can't keep up with the hyper speed patterns of some games while it's trying to regulate your breathing as well. It can't keep up with 2 jobs (brain). The best thing to do is try to balance your breathing and brain in practice mode because high action games overstimulates your brain like your in a flight or fight response.
It's not always about frame rate and lighting. Your out of regulating breathing is cause you nausea along with your brain. Play smart and safe.
As for me, I've retired from high action intense games.

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