Ok, so we’ve established that real walking is by far the best option for a natural and comfortable experience, and that teleportation is one of the best alternatives for a comfortable experience if you don’t have enough space to move around physically.
However, there are still some other alternatives out there that we need to address. In this article, we’ll be covering “drag world.”
Using the VR controllers to “grab” the world and drag it. I’ve seen 2 overall variations of this type of locomotion out in the wild.
One type requires you to use both of your arms and the grip buttons to grab the environment and drag the world to you.
The other type uses a controller laser to select and move the environment in whichever direction desired.
- Less physical space is needed.
- There is less of a risk of motion sickness than the fully artificial form of controller-based virtual locomotion or flying since there’s more control over speed of movement.
- The grab with arms and drag variant can add realism to specific types of simulations, such as time-based challenges or simulations of injury.
- There is still a risk of motion sickness.
- Using your arms to drag the environment can be cumbersome and causes physical fatigue.
- The action of dragging with both of your arms can give people a feeling of being injured or of crawling.
- This may not be an option at all for those susceptible to motion sickness, or those with physical motor function impairments in their arms or shoulders — whether temporary or permanent.
Based on previous research with a distributed demographic of real humans in addition to my own experimentation, I don’t recommend using your arms and dragging the environment as your primary method of locomotion.
That said, there are still some valid use cases for this type of locomotion, such as designing and/or reviewing model and environmental designs in VR.
If you find yourself in that use case…
- Let the individual initiate and terminate the movement.
- Give the individual options for comfort in your game settings.
- Use a laser pointer type interaction for grabbing a portion of the world instead of having to use grip buttons and physically moving your entire arm(s) to move the environment.
- Blur the periphery of the environment when people are dragging the world to help reduce the risk or amount of motion sickness.
- Only use it when needing to travel short distances since your arms can get tired very quickly from overuse.
- Keep accessibility in mind with your target audience.
Example to try for free
Google Earth VR
For the drag world type of locomotion, they grid out the periphery but keep the horizon to reduce motion sickness, and use easy-to-reach controller buttons for the interaction. You only need one arm/hand and a laser pointer to use the interaction, which also helps reduce physical fatigue.
They also give you multiple options for locomotion and comfort settings, allowing you to have control over how you move around the virtual space.
That said, if you’re prone to motion sickness, you can still get sick if you move too quickly or strafe (move sideways) in the environment. The level you’ve zoomed into the environment can also affect the risk.
I personally can only move around with this type of locomotion for short distances and need to stop and rest in the environment before continuing.
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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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