Is cyber-sickness a 21st century plague?

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Kelly B
If you are one of the many that has felt physically sick after playing a video game, you will understand this phenomenon. It’s called digital motion sickness and cybersickness, and it’s real. Medical and media experts have stated that its becoming increasingly common. A number of symptoms indicate you might be affected by this condition, including a sense of nausea, dizziness, and a dull headache. It is pretty similar to motion sickness, which is experienced typically on a boat, an airplane, or in a moving car.

The culprit behind all this is a mismatch between your senses. In normal motion sickness, your body feels movement in the muscles, joints, and within the inner ear. However, your vision doesn’t observe this same movement. With digital motion sickness, the opposite is true. Your eyes perceive motion, and your body doesn’t. That is followed by a feeling of wooziness, and things might get worse from there.

One psychologist, Cyriel Diels, calls it “a natural response to an unnatural environment.” He also says that the issue has “kind of been swept under the carpet in the tech industry.”

According to a number of studies, the sickness can affect between 50 percent and 80 percent of people. Research also shows anecdotal correlation between males and females in that females appear to be more susceptible to the condition, especially if they have a health history that includes migrations or concussions. Aside from these observances, the word is that it can happen to anyone, even to people who don’t normally suffer from motion sickness.

The phenomenon is so well-known that someone put up a website called MovieHurl.com. You’ll find ratings there that will warn you on how physically sick a movie might make you. The virtual reality company, Oculus VR (a child company to Facebook) has gone so far as saying digital motion sickness is one of their biggest challenges. In fact, some people are worried about the vision and balance effects of extended virtual reality sessions on driving, handling machinery, and other critical situations.

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