Friday, December 2, 2011

Inducing motion sickness in your customers is not a good business model

I saw mention of a juicy-looking rant, but when I got there the page had been taken down, so I stayed for a bit to check out the rest of the site.

What I found was this:

A New Zero by Cryptic Sea

I've played thousands of hours of first and third person 3-D games without experiencing motion sickness, but I always turn head bob off.

Watching even this short clip was distinctly unpleasant. The camera is bouncing around way too much for comfort. There was nothing subtle about the head movement.

There's a reason why most FPS games act like stable gun platforms—they don't want to make a large percentage of their customers too ill to play.

This Siggraph piece on simulator sickness has some very interesting information:

20% to 40% of fighter pilots suffer from these symptoms when using simulators and the symptoms may last for several hours. It should be noted that fighter pilots are specially selected for resistance to motion sickness and are used to simulators. [my emphasis]

Fighter pilots, wow!

And there's this: motion systems, motion at 0.2 hz is particularly nauscogenic.

I didn't time it, but it appeared that some of the modelled head oscillation wasn't far off from 0.2 hz.

Finally, under recommendations for preventing sickness in virtual environments:

don't move your head too much.

Unless there's an option for a completely stable head, this developer's innovation will amount to suicide as the game will acquire a reputation for inducing motion sickness.

I left a comment at the blog. Let's hope the developer switches to spending time implementing innovations that everyone can enjoy.

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