2015 IPFW Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium



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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Carol Lawton


Department of Psychology

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

IPFW Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium Award Winner



Recently there has been increased interest in perception of self-motion (vection) in virtual environments. Bubka et. al. (2008) found less vection with an expanding optic flow pattern (visual stimuli approaching viewer) than with a contracting optic flow pattern (visual stimuli receding from the viewer). In another study, researchers found that people with video game experience are better at discriminating contracting optic flow than individuals with less video game experience, but no significant difference between the two groups at discriminating expanding optic flow (Hutchinson & Stocks, 2013). We examined effects of video game experience on vection, as well as motion sickness, with expanding and contracting optic flow patterns. Assuming that contracting flow patterns are more common in video games than in real life, we predicted experienced video gamers would feel more vection with a contracting flow than with an expanding flow.

In our study, introductory psychology students rated time spent playing video games in the past 6 months. In a 3D head-mounted display, participants viewed one of four displays of moving white dots against a dark background for 8 minutes. Dots were displayed in an expanding or contracting flow pattern. The task was to press the spacebar when participants noticed a change in color of a crosshair in the center of the screen and to press a foot pedal when they experienced vection. Participants rated feelings of motion sickness before and after viewing the display.

The results showed that more experienced video game players felt significantly more vection (perception of self-motion) in the contracting flow condition than did less experienced players. Highly experienced gamers felt significantly less motion sickness in the expanding flow condition than did less experienced gamers. We conclude that there may be two different mechanisms governing the effects of video game experience on vection and motion sickness. Because backward self-motion is more commonly experienced in video games than in the real world, there may be increased perception of selfmotion for a contracting flow pattern (visual stimuli receding from the viewer) for video gamers. However, everyone has experience with expanding optic flow as a cue for forward self-motion, regardless of video game experience, and therefore there would be no effect of video game experience for the expanding flow pattern. To explain our motion sickness findings, we observe that even in the virtual world, there is more exposure to expanding flow than contracting flow. If motion sickness is caused by sensory conflict between lack of vestibular feedback and visual cues for movement, then experienced video gamers may have less motion sickness for expanding flow because of more experience with this type of sensory conflict.


Medicine and Health Sciences | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Video Game Experience: Perception of Self-Motion and Motion Sickness in the Virtual World