Locomotion is the way people move around within virtual worlds. In order to get the best experience and reduce the risks of motion sickness or fatigue, it is important to understand the different types of locomotion, their pros and cons, best practices and when best to use them.

Currently, the different types of walking include: real walking, redirected walking, walking in place, teleportation, dragging the world, and virtual motion such as flying or rolling through the environment.

In this article, we’ll go over real walking.

Real Walking

Animation of virtual character walking through a virtual space the same as someone walking in real life.
Animation of real walking in 6dof environment created by Aleatha Singleton, CC BY 4.0.

With 6-dof virtual environments, walking around in the real world corresponds directly with moving around in the virtual world. This is the best option for locomotion in virtual environments since it’s least likely to cause motion sickness, and doesn’t have a learning curve.


  • You get an increased sense of presence.
  • There is less risk of motion sickness.
  • You can move around the virtual world naturally with no learning curve or controller interactions.
  • You can walk around objects and peek under them as if they’re real.


  • The real world, physical space can be limited in comparison to the virtual environment.
  • People can forget about real world obstacles within the play space.
  • The fear of collision with real world obstacles can prevent full immersion.


  • Consider creating barriers (e.g. walls or furniture) in the virtual world to help constrain people to prevent excessive movement within the physical world if you’re working with limited physical space.
  • If the environment requires them to move to another area, consider using elevators or teleportation pods to move them around without having to learn a locomotion interaction.
  • High-end head-mounted displays include mesh barriers to notify you when you’re about to move outside of a preset, protected physical space.
  • Newer technology, such as the Oculus Quest, includes real-time inside-out tracking that alerts you when you’ve left the play area and uses pass-through technology to give you a view of the real world.

Best used

  • When there is enough physical space to move around safely and reduce collision mesh occlusion, which would break immersion.
  • When the goal is to create as fully immersive an experience as possible.

Note: Full-body tracking is still too expensive for mainstream consumers.

Example to try

YouTube player
Richie’s Plank Experience is available on Steam, Oculus, and PSVR

Richie’s Plank Experience

The “Plank” experience is designed using real walking. They design the play area in such a way that you are always in or around an elevator. Instead of moving around on ground level, you move to different floors of the building in the elevator.

There is virtual motion if you decide to take the challenge of stepping off the plank, but it’s handled well with steady, slow progression of speed.

Additional experiences are available on different floors including flying, but we’ll cover that one under the virtual motion article coming soon.

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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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