Can video games give people motion sickness?
Yes. Lots of people feel motion sickness while playing video games. Doctors even have a name for it: They call it simulator sickness because it was first noticed in people using driving or flying simulators.
Doctors aren't sure exactly why video games cause motion sickness. They think it might have to do with mismatched messages about movement that the brain gets from the eyes and inner ears. Liquid in the semicircular canals of your inner ear allows you to sense if you're moving. But the brain can get confused if your inner ear senses that you're sitting still while your eyes see the action on the screen and tell the brain you're moving. That may leave you feeling sick, dizzy, or drowsy.
So what can you do? Chances are that not all games will make you sick, so find ones you can play and avoid those that make you sick. If you decide to play a game that makes you sick, play for short periods of time and take frequent breaks. Go out and get some fresh air.
You also can try sitting farther back from the screen. If the action isn't the only thing your eyes see, and you can see some stillness around the screen or focus on a stationary point, your brain may not be as confused. Wear acupressure wristbands while playing video games to see if that helps. Finally, ginger may help with motion sickness. Try sipping real ginger ale or eating a little ginger candy — but talk to your doctor before using ginger supplements.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2013
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
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