Spending time in a virtual environment can be physically tiring for people who aren’t used to it. Be sure to consider the length of time people will spend in the headset for your application, and design the environment and interactions with physical ergonomics in mind. They also may need to stop at any time for any number of reasons from sickness to fatigue, or for some other work or life-related need. Give them an easy way to do so.

TL;DR Do’s and Don’ts


  • Keep physical ergonomics in mind, such as how a real world physical desk is set up for extended use to keep the body from getting tired.
  • Allow them the ability to stop at any time.
  • Provide a clear and easy way to exit.
  • Give them the option to start back up where they left off.
  • On exiting, offer to save their place if that is a necessary aspect of the application.
  • Ensure they can exit the application easily from the PC if it’s a PC-based headset and they’re not wearing it.


  • Don’t create interactions that will over-fatigue people (unless you’re designing a fitness app or rhythm game like Beat Saber.)
  • Don’t require extended periods of raised arms or strong grips on controllers.
  • Don’t use large blocks of text that require a lot of reading since it can cause eyestrain.
  • Don’t blindly follow cool interactions found in science fiction films.

Gorilla arms

Tom Cruise holding up his arms for long periods of time as necessary to use the pre-crime scrubber from Minority Report.
Minority Report, 2002

Back in 2002 when Minority Report came out, rumors abounded that Tom Cruise had to take frequent breaks on set when filming the scenes with the pre-crime scrubber. Although he was in great shape, his arms were getting tired from holding them up for so long when interacting with the vertical gestural interface. (This wasn’t fully post-prod magic. He was using the prototype of an actual technology created at MIT.)

When designing vertical interfaces, it’s best to keep people from having to keep their arms raised for long periods of time. Otherwise, their arms will become fatigued and will start to hurt. The longer they keep their arms in the air, the heavier they become. In the tech world, this is known as “gorilla arm.”

As hand tracking becomes more prevalent in the XR space, it will be all the more important to keep this in mind when designing interfaces.

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I’m an Immersive Tech UX Design Professional with over 22 years of experience designing for kiosks, websites, mobile apps and desktop software for many well-known and not-so-well-known companies.

I’m not speaking on behalf of or representing any company. These are my personal thoughts, experiences and opinions.

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