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Tablet Gaming Linked to Motion Sickness

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Tablet and smartphone gaming has become a billion-dollar industry in just a few short years. With the massive install base these devices represent, game publishers are now targeting mobile users with a wide variety of monetization schemes.

The only problem with all of this is that touch-based mobile games simply cannot offer the same types of gaming experiences that consoles, PCs, or even handheld gaming devices can. Though developers have experimented with many different control schemes, touch and tilt controls simply can’t offer the precision that controllers or computer mice do.

Now it appears there may be another problem with mobile game controls – they could make people sick.

A new study published in the journal Experimental Brain Research has shown that motion sickness resulting from controlling mobile games may not be a rare occurrence. Of the 36 study participants who played a game on an iPad for up to 40 minutes, nearly one-third of them (31%) experienced feelings of motion sickness.

“This result is remarkable,” said Thomas Stoffregen, lead author of the study and a kinesiologist at the University of Minnesota. “Given the number of mobile devices out there, our findings suggest the potential for a serious problem.”

Stoffregen and his colleagues found that how people control mobile games may have a large effect on the risk for motion sickness. The study found that 50% of study participants who used touch controls felt sick afterwards. In contrast, only 11% of those who used tilt controls got motion sickness.

“In 2011, we used Xbox and virtual driving games to study the age-old finding that the driver is less likely to get car sick than the passenger,” said Stoffregen. “In 2012, we studied motion sickness in walking, using Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, with some people ‘driving’ the avatar and others watching a recording of the avatar. Turns out, like in our new study, the difference in getting sick or not is about being in control of your locomotion.”

Image via Rovio

Tablet Gaming Linked to Motion Sickness
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