I’m Sure I’d Love Dishonored… If It Didn’t Make Me Sick.

I’m Sure I’d Love Dishonored… If It Didn’t Make Me Sick.

I really want to play Dishonored.

I have a digital copy, all neatly installed via Steam. It works perfectly well. The controls are nothing I can’t handle, and I have the long patience for a game full of stealth. I play nearly every game slowly and stealthily! This one was practically made for me, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on it for months.

But Dishonored, sadly, makes me sick.

It’s not the swarms of man-eating plague rats that do me in (although writing that, maybe it should be). It’s something far more fundamental: the first-person perspective. I, it turns out, am prone to motion sickness while gaming, as are many others.

The first time a video game ever made me ill, I was a teenager, babysitting. My young charge, with whom I had played Nintendo games in the past, excitedly showed me his brand new Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64. The wavering camera, meandering through the 3D world, turned my stomach embarrassingly quickly. I buried my nose in a book to avoid looking at the screen while the kid bounced his way through the game.

In the years since I have learned the hard way that while I can play Mario Kart on the DS, I can’t do it in a moving car or train, and that Mirror’s Edge is a story I will simply never be able to experience. The demo of that one did enough damage.

After gaming successes in 2007, though, I started to get cocky. For whatever reason, I was able to manage most of Portal, although I still had to pause the game and take some long breaks during particularly twisty levels. BioShock, too, I could handle in 1-2 hour chunks. As the years went on, I played hundreds of hours of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, in first-person view probably 90% of the time.

Perhaps my fondness for 2D and third-person games is as much a matter of self-preservation as anything else.

I thought that my susceptibility to motion in games was a thing of the past, and that I could move on with a happy, well-rounded gaming future. I was wrong. I had to hand the controls over to my spouse when it came time to drive the Mako in the original Mass Effect, by the time I finally got around to trying the game. Shooting and dialogue I could handle, but a space dune buggy, peacefully bouncing among the craters? Not a chance.

Portal 2 came and went without incident and I hoped, once again, that I might be safe. Then came Starhawk, which I had to see through for review. For a week, I lived on Bonine tablets and scheduled myself an hour of lying down with a pillow over my head for every hour of play. Never has 10 hours of playing what’s actually a pretty good game felt so hellish.

And now, Dishonored.

I want to love it. But before I can decide how I feel about Dishonored, I have to play it — and I was barely even able to scratch the barest surface of the tutorial and introductory level before I had to walk away and go sit quietly with my head between my knees. My second attempt ended the same way as my first, and I haven’t yet been brave enough to sit down for a lengthy empirical session with the thousand different settings to see if I can make it less stomach-churning.

It seems that perhaps my fondness for 2D and third-person games is as much a matter of self-preservation as anything else. Still, I have high hopes for Dishonored. It does have so very many settings to change that I hope, eventually, I can tweak it to the place where I can play for an hour or two at a time.

And if not, well, at least I’ll always have XCOM.


  • have you considered upping the field of view in the .ini files or whatever they use in dishonored, i literally increase it to 120 in some games to combat the motion sickness

  • That really is the worst. I myself have always been prone to motion sickness but for some reason I am very thankful of, games have never been an issue. There is one thing you can try. Anti-nausea meds. Typically, they are used for travel on boats and such but it might work for playing games as well. If there is a game you REALLY want to get under your belt, drop by a pharmacy and grab one. There’s a version they use for migraine nausea as well but that’s more prone to causing drowsiness.

  • Dishonored has a setting for head-wobble, at least it does on PC. Maybe that’s the common factor to games you can’t play? Mirror’s edge also had considerable head-wobbling…

  • I have the exact same problem. It’s not nearly as bad as it used to be – I used to be unable to play any kind of firstperson game for more than about 10 minutes. These days I can play most of them e.g. I can put in a marathon session on BF3, I’ve finished Mirror’s Edge without any problems. I suspect it may actually be because I switched from PC gaming to console years ago and I tend to sit much further back from the TV than I do from my PC monitor. Or perhaps it’s just the improvement in technology i.e. better resolutions, smoother framerates etc so it’s not quite so jarring on the eyes. Or maybe it’s just because so many games these days use first person perspective that I’ve forced myself to get used to it otherwise I’d have to miss out on a whole bunch of great games. Who knows. Anyway, I do sympathize because I’ve been there too and it’s horrible when it happens.

    • Same problem here as well – the only reason why I could not play Bioshock I & II.

      I have a solution for PC gamers: I have a 1.5M gap between the 22″ monitor and my bed.
      I bought a simple (but strong) folding table from Bunnings for $24.
      I pushed my comp. chair all the way to the bed, and placed my cordless KB & mouse on this folding card table – problem solved. No more motion sickness 🙂
      I replayed Half Life Source with it, which is a very fast moving game.

  • Kate, I used to have this problem. Games like bioshock, borderlands, dead space etc. Alot of FPS shooters made me sick.

    Then I discovered Motion Sickness bands, otherwise known as seabands. They’re worn by sailors and pregnant women to overcome nausea. They cost me less than 10 bucks best investment I’ve ever made. I highly recommend giving them a try.

    • I was going to suggest chemical intervention – something antinauseant like Anagraine or Maxolon – but this is a way better idea 🙂

  • My first experience with motion sickness was also my first exposure to an FPS: Wolfenstein 3D. Ever since that first play though, I never suffered from it again UNTIL I played Halflife 2. Guaranteed 5 minutes in (even more so during the vehicle bits) I’d feel really ill :/

  • I’m exactly the same, and my first experience of it was with the original Wolfenstein. I tried Tony Hawk on PS3 and lasted about 10 minutes before I felt like I needed to vomit. I find if I move slowly (in WoW or DayZ, for example) I’m OK.

  • I suffer so badly playing games, I have hd to avoid certain games! I loved fall out but couldnt play new vegas due to the bad memory fallout and my sickness left me!

    Im enjoying dishonored! My little set up works well, I chew gum! Well my fav is fireball jawbreakers! It seems to help, I also like to support my neck nd head whilst playing! That seems to help!

    In the past ginger root tablets worked wonders as well!

    Wow i really did think i was the only one with this!

  • Taking ginger capsules or chewing ginger root is proven to eliminate nausea due to motion sickness. Proven by the Mythbusters, anyway.

  • As someone who suffers from motion sickness in games very badly, I feel your pain. 5 minutes of Fallout/Borderlands/Dead Island generally sends me running for the closest bucket and laying down for half an hour.
    I was a little hesitant on buying Dishonored because of my nauseous history with these types of games. However I figured what the hell, and tried anyway. I have successfully been able to rack up about 10 hours on Dishonored! Changing the settings for headbobbing and the FoV, and also downing as much Monster and water as I could, enabled me to actually play for an extended period of time.
    I hope that youre able to find a combo that works for you, my fellow suffering gamer.

  • Same problem. The first Portal in particular made me sick as a dog, I couldn’t play for more than an hour without throwing up (I persevered because I loved it so much). Portal 2 was better but I still had to pace myself. Would like to replay them and explore more but don’t have the stomach for it. Have the problem with maybe 50% of FPS titles, changing the settings helps (if it’s on PC) but usually by the time I realise I need to it’s when the headache has already set in and nothing but taking a break will sort it out. This means I usually wind up skipping a title if it’s first person, unless it really is super-highly recommended.

    It’s not just first person titles, though. Epic Mickey was bad for this too. I’d get it from Super Mario 64 but only after a couple of hours, it had a long burn time. Some of the Ratchet and Clank titles had some nigh-instant nausea-inducing levels. It’s a shame, but luckily there are plenty of great games still that don’t have cameras which make me sick. Has made me an ardent fan of 2D games though. Never had one of those make me sick.

  • Try taking some travel sickness pills before playing – it seems extreme by they’re designed to prevent motion sickness while travelling in cars/boats/planes.

  • Another thing you can trial is putting strips of masking tape (cut to size of course) across your screen in a grid pattern. Apparently, the motion sickness is a result of your visual senses telling you that you are moving, but of course, your body is simply sitting there on the couch/chair/etc. As such, the nausea / motion sickness is due to the visual discrepancy. By putting the strips of tape on your screen [foreground], your vision sees that they are not moving, even if the background (the FPS game) is.
    I agree with Shod – played HL2 till about 50% over several sessions and could not bear the continual feelings of nausea. Other FPS games I’m fine with though, a la CoD [le sigh] etc.

  • Its simply the FoV. Change it to 75 ? I think it was and it goes away. I have had this issue for years with games that have a dodgy FoV

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