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VR games with storylines reduce cybersickness for new players

13 February 2020

Researchers from the University of Waterloo have found that adding a storyline with emotionally evocative details to virtual reality (VR) games can reduce cybersickness for new players. Storylines provide context and details that help users feel immersed in VR while reducing nausea, disorientation and eye strain.

People with little to no experience with video games saw reduced cybersickness with an enhanced narrative. Regular video games do not need the storyline because players do not experience cybersickness.

For the study the team gathered 42 participants from the university and 156 from a new media technology exhibition in Kitchener, Ontario. All players participated in a VR game. Before entering the VR simulation, participants listened to a story about what they were about to experience. Half the participants were given bare-bones details and half were given an enhanced narrative with emotionally evocative details.

All participants who heard the enhanced story reported more presence in the VR game, but only the non-gamers saw reduced cybersickness. People with little to no gaming experience are highly sensitive to the effects of VR. The team saw the benefits of enriches narratives in people ages eight to 60. The storylines reduce cybersickness because of decreased focus on all the inputs the player’s senses are experiencing.

The study was published in the International Journal of Human Computer Studies.

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