Cybersickness vs Simulator Sickness: Surprising Differences

December 13


Ever played a simulation game on a Virtual Reality (VR) gaming console and felt nauseous and sick afterward? Well, you might have simulator sickness. But what is it? Why do people get simulator sickness? Let us find out in this article! In this digital era where usage of screens takes up most of our time, facing issues that are a result of this usage is inevitable. One of the effects of high screen time is cybersickness - when you feel light-headedness or nausea while scrolling your screen for a long time, there are high chance that you are experiencing cybersickness. But what is simulator sickness? Is it similar to cybersickness and virtual reality sickness? This article discusses the difference between cybersickness and simulator sickness.

Cybersickness - What is it and How is it Caused?

Cybersickness is like motion sickness but occurs using single or multiple digital screens. When there are continuous movements on the screen, a lag between your sensory system and your brain occurs. This makes it tough for your brain to comprehend your actual movements. The lag results in dizziness, headaches, and even nausea.

These conflicting signs can be dangerous if you do not find a remedy. Some symptoms of cybersickness are disorientation, headache, nausea, and eye strain. If you feel like you are experiencing motion sickness while scrolling through the feed or watching animation, you might be experiencing cybersickness.

What is Simulator Sickness?

Simulator sickness is somewhat similar to cybersickness but it specifically occurs when a person is playing a simulator-related video game or is working on an actual simulator. It can be understood as a form of motion sickness but it is particularly experienced in a simulated environment.

Some of the most common symptoms of simulator sickness include:

While some simulators feature a cockpit, most instances of simulator sickness are caused by the dissonance between the visually perceived movement and the body’s position and posture in reality. A few reasons why simulator sickness can occur are given below:

  • When there is too much movement on the screen but your body is moving comparatively slow
  • Differences in simulator movement and the player’s movement
  • A late reaction to your input on the screen.

People who often use Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) simulators experience such simulator sickness. This can also occur with specific types of video games. But apart from these instances, simulator sickness majorly affects those who undergo pilot simulation and related training. 

Simulator Sickness in AR and VR Usage

Simulator sickness is a real buzzkill, especially when you're diving into the awesome worlds of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). It's like motion sickness, but it hits you when you're in these cool virtual environments. Think of it as your brain getting mixed signals from what your eyes see and what your body feels.

When you're in AR or VR, everything seems super real, but your body knows you're not actually moving. This mismatch can cause some not-so-fun feelings like nausea, dizziness, or even headaches. In VR, when the virtual world spins or moves fast, but you're just chilling in your room, your brain gets confused. And in AR, when digital elements pop up in your real-world environment, it can be a bit too much for your senses.

These issues are pretty common, especially for folks new to VR or AR gaming or experiences. It's like your body needs time to get used to these new, immersive worlds. The intensity of these feelings can vary from person to person. Some might just feel a little dizzy, while others might have to take off their headset and take a break.

So, if you're stepping into the world of AR or VR, remember to take it slow. Give your body time to adapt, and don't push it too hard. With a bit of patience, you can enjoy these awesome technologies without feeling uneasy.

Differences between Cybersickness and Simulator Sickness 

The common thing about cybersickness and simulator sickness is that they are usually caused by a digital screen. These phenomena are like motion sickness, but they are caused by prolonged usage of screens or the disorientation that comes with being in a simulated environment for a long time.

Did you know that the United States Navy is considered an authority on the phenomenon of simulator sickness? This is because many of the training procedures in the Navy involve simulators. The US Navy created a questionnaire that analyzes and ranks the degree of simulator symptoms a person is experiencing.

There are not many pronounced differences between cybersickness and simulator sickness. But here are some crucial things to look out for when finding the difference between cybersickness and simulator sickness:


 CybersicknessSimulator Sickness
AtmosphereCybersickness can occur whenever you are scrolling your screen too often or when you have been staring at a screen for long.Simulator sickness usually occurs when you are in a simulator.
SymptomsCommon symptoms of cybersickness are nausea, dizziness, and headache.Simulator sickness symptoms include the above-stated, but they also include sweating, uneasiness, and oculomotor dysfunction.
CauseCybersickness is usually caused by prolonged exposure to the screen or motion on the screen.Simulator sickness is caused by a difference in simulation movement and the person’s movement. It can also be due to postural instability.


Remedies for Cybersickness and Simulator Sickness 

Although there is a notable difference between cybersickness and simulator sickness, the remedies are similar. Here are a few things you can do as a remedy when you’re feeling cybersickness or simulator sickness.

RemediesHow to follow

20-20-20 rule

The 20-20-20 rule is a very easy way to keep yourself grounded in your surroundings - for every 20 minutes of using the screen, take 20 seconds off and stare at something that is 20 feet away. This helps your brain to reorient itself and give you clear vision.

Breathing Practices

Breathing practices help you relax and get back to reality when you’re feeling giddy or dizzy. Take deep breaths and practice some breathing techniques so you can release stress and feel relaxed.
Ventilated SpaceWhen you are playing or working in a simulated setup, a cramped atmosphere can make you feel stressed and claustrophobic. Opt for a well-ventilated room so that there is a lot of space around you - this helps your brain to recognize and align with your movements. This also helps you to breathe easily.


The Bottom Line

Cybersickness and simulator sickness are not new, but with the increase in gaming and VR experiences, these problems are occurring in worrying numbers. Follow our special tips to avoid these issues and have a happy gaming experience, be it on a simulator or a personal computer device!

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