Gabe: "Zero per cent" of people get motion sick from Vive HMD

Newell is confident that Lighthouse makes Valve's VR nausea-free

Gabe Newell has told press that Valve has solved the problem of motion-sickness for VR users, proclaiming that "zero per cent of people get motion sick" when using the company's Vive headset.

The new tech, developed in tandem with HTC, was revealed three days ago at the beginning of GDC. Early reports from those at the show who've been able to experience it first hand have been overwhelmingly positive, with many claiming that it's the best VR experience currently being exhibited.

Previously Newell had been very susceptible to motion sickness himself, calling them the "world's best motion sickness inducers." However, in an interview with the New York Times, he was bullish about the fact that there'll be no such experiences with Vive. The difference, according to Valve, is the headset's revolutionary 'Lighthouse' positional system - technology which Valve says its absolutely willing to share with any hardware manufacturer.

Whilst the Vive's main competitors have motion-tracking solutions of their own, don't be surprised if they decide to take advantage of Lighthouse should Valve's claims prove to be true. In fact, Oculus has already benefited from some of Valve's tech, with the firm sharing previous work in order to ensure that the VR market launched in as healthy and reliable manner as possible in order to prevent a massive setback in public opinion.

Still, it would be understandable if there were some bad blood between the two companies. Oculus has 'inherited' a large number of Valve's specialist VR staff, as well as some alumni.

If you're not at GDC and want to learn more about Vive, Valve's Chet Faliszek will be at EGX Rezzed in London next week, discussing Steam VR.

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Latest comments (10)

If the queue to try Vive at Rezzed next weekend isn't too awful, I'll be putting this claim to the test... I am super susceptible to motion sickness and it's one of the main factors putting me off the idea of VR.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend7 years ago
I am not sure how accurate this is but I did read something that stated most of the motion sickness on VR comes from FOV settings, maybe they have nailed the perfect parameters or the set works out how far apart your eyes are to adjust FOV. But I am not speaking from a position of knowledge here, so I could be talking crap. :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 5th March 2015 2:27pm

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Alexis Argyriou Level Designer, Dark Stork Studios7 years ago
You are partially right and it's what makes VR tricky: there's so many parameters to acknowledge, it's overwhelming, really. We have to completely trick the brain as the slight little mistake can trigger motion sickness.
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Mario Tommadich Software QA Analyst, Indie Game Developer 7 years ago
I think the biggest challenge is to account for the eye movement of the player within the visible canvas. If a game uses depth of field techniques, these could completely destroy the immersion into the game by blurring the wrong content, since the VR device cannot know what pixel the player is currently looking at (unless it uses eye tracking, which I believe is overkill for a, let's face it, "toy").
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 7 years ago
It's a nice claim but doesn't amount to much until it's actually in the hands of average consumers instead of a smaller controller group of test subjects.
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James Podesta Programmer 7 years ago
motion sickness comes from the player moving in game but not moving in real life - since you're expecting to feel acceleration on your body, but you don't get any, you get sick. I'm very skeptical they have some magic solution to this in a sit down experience, and no-one has living rooms capable of a walking around vr experience.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by James Podesta on 5th March 2015 10:18pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
Hopefully, you won't need the space a real lighthouse takes up to effectively use Lighthouse. I'm hoping this tech has been tested in just about every possible room configuration, not just optimal ones. We probably all know someone who lives in a tiny space or shares an entertainment room, and we probably all know some of those people might want a decent VR experience that fits their space.
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Paul Shirley Programmers 7 years ago
@James Podesta
If that disconnect between ingame/onscreen motion and lack of player motion was a serious problem I wouldn't be able to play any 1st person game, being astonishingly sensitive to motion sickness. It's also something we seem able to adapt too, real motion sickness fades with exposure in most people.

In practice tracking lag dominates the nausea. We ran DN3D back in the 90s on an experimental headset+fast PC, massively reducing lag and despite 2.5D distortion, poor FOV correction and far from perfect input mapping I had massive (10x+) improved time without nausea. Turns out to be much more important to react quickly than to react accurately to input!

With that fixed we can move onto FOV and distortion issues. The big remaining problems will be avoiding players using gaming systems that can't deliver low enough lag (consoles may have trouble) and making the systems safe for unsupervised use.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Shirley on 7th March 2015 1:52pm

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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.7 years ago
I applaud the effort they have made to minimise simulation sickness as its a pre-requisite for commercial VR.
I can also believe their claims of a 15 x 15 foot tracking area. However, in terms of wide-scale adoption people are going to worry that the space they have available may not be enough for most games and how is 15 foot enough to play Skyrim?
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 7 years ago
We could see entire games which focus on taking place inside of a 15 by15 foot area. Escape room games and cockpit games being the two extremes. One might not even hang the entire game from a movement space gimmick and only use it from time to time. Once you made 20 push ups to get through the next Call of Duty tutorial, you wish there was a button to pay your respects and happily play with the controller for a while.

Valve is talking about a 20 square meter area here, that is the size of an average German living room (Google fact). No game will be able to use that space, they will have to learn to use what is in that space and leverage each part separately; from a couch, to a small empty space, to spinning chair.
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