Winston is a VR developer focused on creating immersive storytelling experiences.
Contact him on Twitter: @VRHeavenNews
July 5th, 2020
This research was conducted during Jan 2020 by Winston Nguyen and Aaron Santiago. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
VR Motion Sickness Statistics | Age, Gender, Experience and More
Motion sickness is a huge obstacle in the way of adoption. But just how prevalent is it? And how does it correlate with factors such as age, gender and headset type?
We asked people about their VR experience and compiled results into the following report. Nearly 300 responses were recorded.
You can read more about our collection method at the end of this post.
What Percentage of People Experience VR Motion Sickness?
More than half the sample (57.8%) have experienced motion sickness whilst 42.2% have never experienced it.
13.7% of people experience VR sickness ‘frequently’
19.1% experience it ‘sometimes’ and
24.9% experience it ‘rarely.’
Gender vs. VR Motion Sickness
The data sugggests women are a lot more likely to experience motion sickness than men. Past research has shown a similar finding.
Over three times the amount of women experience VR motion sickness ‘frequently’ than men (22.6% vs 7.2%)
22.6% of women answered ‘sometimes’ vs. 13.8% of men.
Meanwhile 29% of men answered “rarely” vs. 20.2% of women.
50% of men have never experienced VR sickness vs. 34.7% of women
Note: The third bar (“total”) includes people who identified “other” or declined to specify their gender.
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. And women are more prone to motion sickness in cars, boats, planes and vehicles in general.
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! Gender still seems to be strongly correlated with VR sickness:
Why do women experience motion sickness more than men? There could be several reasons. I’ve written about it here.
Does age play a role in VR motion sickness?
Younger people seem to be less susceptible to VR motion sickness than older people.
Does the headset type play a role in VR motion sickness?
“Mobile Low-End” headsets such as the Samsung GearVR and Google Cardboards induce the most motion sickness.
Meanwhile “Mobile High-End” VR headsets such as the Oculus Quest and Lenovo Mirage Solos rank the best even beating the “PC High-End” headsets such as the Valve Index. This could be because the high end PC headsets have greater FOV (Valve Index has 130° vs. 100° on the Quest), making them more likely to cause motion sickness.
Incredibly, PSVR headsets rank even lower than PC Low-End headsets like the old Oculus DK1 and Wal-Mart VR-Tek headsets. We think this is because the tracking system on PSVR headsets is less reliable than other systems.
Does the locomotion scheme play a role in VR motion sickness?
Piloting vehicles seemed to be the biggest cause of motion sickness with 21.4% of people experiencing it ‘frequently’ vs. 14.0% of people who say they experience VR motion sickness frequently.
Can You Overcome VR Motion Sickness By Playing More?
A lot of VR enthusiasts talk about “VR legs,” the ability to grow resistant to VR motion sickness by exposing yourself to it. Our data seems to confirm it.
68% of people were able to overcome VR motion sickness over time. Though 32% of people not being able to overcome it is still a substantial amount.
Let’s see how these numbers look for men vs. women:
Growing VR Legs and Gender
Interestingly, men are more likely to overcome VR sickness than women.
This may or may not be due to a biological factor. It could simply be due to the fact that they are less likely to use VR consistently, or the degree of motion sickness they experience is more severe than men, making them less likely to develop their VR legs.
About our process
Our dataset consists of around 292 respondents with 145 males, 131 females and 15 ‘other’. The data is not completely random, as 80% of the sample comes from Reddit, whilst the other 20% came from Discord groups and family/friends on Facebook.
The advantage of using Reddit is that we got a huge sample size. Many VR studies only had 10-20 participants and we didn’t see any with above 50.
When posting on Reddit, we specifically avoided posting on VR related subreddits to avoid skewing the data too much, because most people who go on Subreddits like /r/virtualreality probably use VR frequently and aren’t as prone to motion sickness. We also offered a $50 gift card prize incentive for those who took the survey.
In all of the data that was considered, respondents had used VR before, but don’t necessarily own a headset. To calculate VR sickness scores, each of our respondents answers was given a numerical value. As a response to “Do you experience motion sickness in VR?” Never = 0, Rarely = 1, Sometimes = 2, and Frequently = 3.
The same was done for our general motion sickness questions to calculate a motion sickness susceptibility score. The numbers were totalled for cars, boats, and airplanes, and then normalized to a range from 0 – 9. This means that if a respondent answered Frequently and Frequently for cars and boats, but had never been on airplanes, they would still score a 9.
This was based on the MSSQ-S that researchers use to determine motion sickness susceptibility.
Summary of Data:
Based on our data…
How does gender factor into VR motion sickness?
Men are less prone to VR sickness than women.
Does age factor into VR motion sickness?
It seems the older generation are more prone to motion sickness than younger generation.
Does the headset factor into VR motion sickness?
Yep, the headset type can influence motion sickness.
Does the locomotion scheme factor into VR motion sickness?
Sort-of. If you already experience motion sickness in VR, more intense locomotion schemes will make that worse.
Does experience factor into VR motion sickness?
Sort-of. If you can grow your VR legs, then you will be able to overcome motion sickness in VR! This only represents half of people who experience motion sickness, though.