Well, just look at you! You went out and picked up a Samsung Gear VR unit, and you’re ready to dive into the world of virtual reality. Except I notice this is going to be your first time trying the immersive medium out.
That’s cool! I’m not here to judge. I actually want to help you.
I know you’re impatient and want to leap face-first into virtual reality, but before you do, I have some basic advice that will hopefully keep your first time from becoming a disaster.
1. Have a friend with you (who’s willing to babysit)
Trying virtual reality can be a little like when a friend decides they want to do shrooms or drop some LSD for the first time. It’s best for everyone in the immediate vicinity that the user has a companion around to make sure no one gets hurt.
In this case, your friend is going to be your guide in the real world as you experience the virtual one. Except instead of making sure you keep your clothes on and don’t try to leap out of a window, they are there to make sure you don’t trip, fall, and crack your head on the coffee table while you pet a virtual dinosaur.
Besides acting as your trusty link to the real world, this person can also be extremely helpful at setting up the unit, putting on headphones, and handing controllers. Eventually, you’ll be experienced enough to not need a handler, but it’s a smart precaution to have someone around to help out your first time. Also, obviously, don’t be stingy. Swap roles. Otherwise, you risk losing friends in the real world.
2. Sit down
It’s tempting to try and take in the entire experience standing up, especially if you grew up in the ’90s and remember how movies made virtual reality look like some sort of cyber athletics — but trust me on this one. Just sit your ass down.
Even if the virtual experience is stationary, under the right conditions, virtual reality can screw with the brain’s ability to distinguish if your body is in motion. You may be telling yourself on one level that you’re not flying through outer space … that you’re just sitting on the couch … but other parts of your brain can’t tell and will occasionally override your logic.
Then the next thing you know, you’re on the floor in real life with a smashed Samsung Gear VR dangling from your face.
3. Clear at least three feet of space around you in all directions
If you insist on standing, double that to six feet for the potential fall factor.
I’ll admit that the three-foot recommendation may be a bit extreme for sitting on the couch, but you just need to make sure you’re not going to whip your head around and smack that antique Ming vase sitting on the end table. Or that you don’t accidentally headbutt the baby you left on your couch.
Look. I don’t know what you keep in your house. Just for the sake of your head and the physical possessions you covet, don’t have them right next to you while you’re using your headset.
4. Take small doses
It is absolutely normal to feel motion sickness and headaches when you first try virtual reality. As cool as virtual reality is, don’t overdo it. For most people, it will take a couple of sessions to get used to the sensation of the experience and be able to spend long periods of time inside a headset.
Just to pace yourself, I recommend going for 5-10 minutes. Then pass the goggles over to someone else so they can try. Feel it out. If you are getting sick or headaches, stop and chill out for a bit. Take a breather. Relax. Then try it again.
Some people may never get used to virtual reality, and that’s fine. There are still people who get sick watching first-person shooters or riding in cars. It’s not unheard of.
5. Find a Bluetooth controller
This is especially true if you’re going to play virtual reality games instead of just theme-ride style experiences. One of virtual reality’s current challenges is finding a good control scheme, and although the controls on the Samsung Gear VR unit are good for menu selection, they aren’t so great for game control.
6. Keep a puke bucket close by
This tip is for the worst case scenario, where you ignored tip No. 4 and tried to be a tough guy by pushing your motion sickness beyond its limit. Is the bravado really worth having to clean puke out of your carpet?
The answer is “no.”