VR and Nausea

By Brian Lancaster

Disclaimer: I’ve never tried a VR headset, nor do I care about about VR. The closest thing to virtual reality I’ve tried was back in 1995 when I was a kid in a Circuit City trying out a Virtual Boy — some Mario game that was a huge leap backwards and just a huge heap of something. It made me sick, but for different reasons than why modern first-person VR makes some people sick.

I have coded an FPS, and one of the major factors to consider when trying to optimize frames per second (different FPS meaning) is the field of view (FOV). In real life, we see at a nearly 180 degree angle. Stick your hands out to the very corners of your vision, and they’re almost at 180.

You play on a game console where the screen is far away from your disgusting couch, the FOV is much narrower, sometimes around 60. Resident Evil 4 was 50 degrees horizontal, which was pretty damn annoying to play on the computer where you sit close the screen. Computer games are usually around 90 to 100 degrees for both this reason, and also the higher processing power of PCs.

I guess you could say the narrow FOV made Resident Evil scarier, just like the horrible fixed cameras of its predecessors made the game scarier (but also more annoying). It’s almost Silent Hill level genius, which included the scary fog to cover up the horrible view distance, all while implementing it into the plot like true designer pimps.

Personally, I like a normal PC with a normal keyboard and mouse, 90 to 100 degrees FOV. Perfect distance. My vision is terrible because of it, but at least I don’t want to puke all over the keyboard.

VR has a problem. It’s right up against your face. If you want to prevent people from getting sick, you’re gonna have to make the FOV as high as possible to prevent that tunnel-vision nausea and it will slow the frame rate down. Keep it low and your players will have to spin their actual heads around to keep from getting their asses blasted.

Believe it or not, this might actually look good in VR in a high-speed vehicle (Far Cry 4).

Again, I’ve never really tried modern VR, but this is my case against it. Also, I am way too f***ing poor. The third reason is I would just be using it for the virtual sex. Checkmate, ladies.

Shameless plugs for my project, Brigand, and the upcoming Warlordocracy:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/652410/Brigand_Oaxaca/

Itch: https://blancaster45.itch.io/

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fov.png
70 degrees vs. 140 degrees in Brigand

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Indie game developer, writer, non-teacher.

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