VR motion sickness survey reinforces gender gap

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In spite of virtual reality’s benefits and hype, one of its primary inhibitors remains the threat of motion sickness. A new survey finds it still plays a prominent role – with women more at risk than men.

The survey, put together by VR Heaven and which polled almost 300 respondents, found that more than half (57.8%) said they experienced motion sickness in VR at some time. 13.7% of those polled said they experienced it frequently, compared with 19.1% for sometimes and 24.9% for rarely.

Gender continues to have a ‘strong’ correlation with VR sickness, the research argued. Women are more than three times likelier to frequently suffer from motion sickness with VR, with 22.6% of female respondents confirming compared with 7.2% of men. At the other end of the scale, fully half of men said they had never experienced VR sickness, compared with only 34.7% of women.

This is by no means a new revelation – studies have explored greater female susceptibility to motion sickness, with VR Heaven citing a report from as far back as 2002. Yet there was a caveat which needed to be debunked.

“Some other research in the field suggests that in general, if you already experience motion sickness in real life, then you will be more likely to experience VR sickness,” the company noted. “A lot of papers out there agree that if you look at the data this way, then the gender bias disappears. Oddly enough, our data doesn’t line up with that.”

Generally speaking, the lower-quality the headset, the more likely it is to induce sickness. The ‘mobile low-end’ category, featuring Google Cardboards and the Samsung GearVR, scored highest, while ‘mobile high-end’, such as the Oculus Quest and Lenovo Mirage Solos, outranked even the highest PC-quality gear.

The good news is that, for a substantial number, motion sickness in VR can be cured with enough practice. More than two thirds of those who did suffer from sickness were able to overcome it in time, with a gender disparity again in favour of men. Piloting vehicles in VR (above) was the most likely cause of sickness, the report added.

You can take a look at the full data set here.

Photo by Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash

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