Nausea Rules My Life No More!

I discovered something over the holidays, my friends, and I have to tell you, it’s something absolutely wonderful.  I can play first person shooters again.  I can run around in a virtual world and kill the enemy and not throw up all over the floor.  At least for a couple of hours anyway.  Let me explain.

A while ago, I posted about having Simulation Sickness, a condition where certain people cannot handle the visual graphics and movement of certain kinds of video games.  For me, it was most prominently first person shooters.  I LOVE first person shooters so you can imagine how this upset me.  I missed out on a tonne of triple A titles in the last eight years or so of my life when this little ailment started.

However, over these past Christmas holidays, I was invited by the awesome members and friends of The Games Day Podcast to a marathon gaming session that lasted from 11:00 am until about 2:00 am.  I was stoked because I hadn’t gamed like that since high school when I used to have all the guys over for hours and play the crap out of 007 Goldeneye for the 64.

I knew that first person shooters would definitely play a huge roll in the days events because they are awesome, but I knew there would be a plethora of games for me to play so I didn’t worry too much about it.  When we got there we checked out the demo for Just Cause 2 which was totally awesome.  I was happy because it was third person and the game play rocked.

We also checked out DJ Hero, which is a hell of a lot harder than it looks and despite my original thoughts on the concept, some of the mashups were actually pretty cool.

Eventually, I was drawn to the back room where some people were playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, specifically, the zombie mode.  I sat down and watched for a while before someone put the controller in my hand.  I stared at it for a few seconds before I started playing, expecting the well known hot flash followed by cold sweat and nausea.  However, a few rounds into playing, this hadn’t arrived.  I kept playing, learning the controls and getting used to the feel of it again as I wondered why I wasn’t getting sick.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that playing a first person shooter on an HD television did not cause the nausea I used to experience on an standard definition television.

As you can imagine, I was overjoyed.  This was pretty much the game I played for the entire rest of the day, switching out with the other players, learning how to best play the game and experiencing multiplayer online gaming for the first time.  Eventually, they filmed the last episode of the year, the topic being Game of the Year 2010.  I got to sit in the background and play COD: Black Ops while they filmed it, which was awesome.

Eventually, I played for too long and I did start to feel nauseous, but I didn’t let this discourage me.  Since then, I’ve purchased my own copy of the game and I have found that I can play for about two hours or so at a time before I need to turn the game off.  I’m freaking thrilled.  I have so many plans to play catch up with all the games I missed and to get in on massive online death match rounds.

So happy gaming to all of you out there in 2011…the year I didn’t throw up during a first person shooter!

A badly drawn representation of my joyful reaction to being able to play FPS again

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Simulation Sickness: A Gamer’s Worst Nightmare?

Over the years, I’ve noticed that gamers usually develop a certain style of game they most like to play.  We all try out the various options and switch it up a bit, but at the core of our collections are the genres we love the most.  Some choose sports games, others like real time strategy (RTS).  I love role playing games (RPG) and adventures.  Let us not forget also, the ever entertaining platformers (another favourite of mine) and shooters, and every indie game in between.  With such a plethora of options, the choices seem almost limitless.  That is, of course, unless you are one of the unlucky population of gamers who are stricken with the horrible affliction of Simulation Sickness.

I, unfortunately, am a member of that sad population.  When I play certain games, mostly those with a first person perspective, I tend to become quite nauseous any time after ten minutes to a half an hour of game play and eventually, if I don’t stop playing, I will be sick.  I had always just called it motion sickness and likened it to the feelings that I would get when going on rides that went in a circular motion at the fair.  After dating the boyfriend for a few months, he asked me why I always refused to play first person shooters, especially since he’s somewhat fond of a particular few.  When I told him my reasons he informed me that there was, in fact, a specific name for my sufferings and it was “Simulation Sickness”.

According to Wikipedia, “Simulation sickness, or simulator sickness, is a condition where a person exhibits symptoms similar to motion sickness caused by playing computer/simulation/video games.

The most common theory for the cause of simulation sickness is that the illusion of motion created by the virtual world, combined with the absence of motion detected by the inner ear, causes the area postrema in the human brain to infer that one is hallucinating and further conclude that the hallucination is due to poison ingestion. The brain responds by inducing nausea and mass vomiting, to clear the supposed toxin.  According to this theory, simulation sickness is just another form of motion sickness.

The symptoms are often described as quite similar to that of motion sickness. Some can range from headache, drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and sweating.”

By golly, that was exactly what I experienced every time.  You might wonder why I care so much, being as there are many

Yes, I have looked like this...except for the hands.

games that don’t utilize the first person perspective and I do just fine playing anything that doesn’t, but I will say that I do kind of miss first person shooters.  Not all of them, I’ve never had any interest in games like Call of Duty or a lot of the war based shooters, but during the Nintendo conference this year at E3, I could have cried when they announced a new Goldeneye coming out.  I spent hours of my life on that game in high school.  That one and Perfect Dark for the 64.  They were awesome and great to play with a bunch of friends.  Then, one sad and rainy afternoon in my first year of university, I was playing perfect dark and the symptoms of simulation sickness hit me for the first time.  Ever since then, I could not play any first person games without nausea and the threat of vomiting.  Let me tell you, it sucks.

I’m dying to play Portal and when it comes out, I want to play Portal 2.  The sad thing is, I’m scared to play them.  The boyfriend got me to play Bioshock one day (back when we first started dating and I didn’t want him to think I was a gamer wuss) and I spent about ten minutes in Rapture (the name of the city in the game, for any readers who don’t know that) and then it was either turn it off or get sick.  Now a sequel has come and gone and I still haven’t worked up the courage to try again.

I now find myself desperate to come up with some kind of solution to my problem.  I have Gravol in the drawer in the bathroom, I have purchased a stronger prescription for my glasses (they were so bad) and I have portal on my laptop (thank you Steam) which has a high definition screen.  I’ve been working up the guts to give it a go and plan to soon.  Here’s hoping that I can overcome or at least manage this irritation because I do NOT like to miss out on games.

If anyone out there suffers from this problem, let me know if there are any solutions?  Do you just accept that there are games you cannot play or do you power through it?  Are you fighting a losing battle or do you have strategies that work to get you through the game?  Let me know, because otherwise, I’m playing Portal with a bucket beside the chair.