28 Feb 2013

Ain't no Shakes here Sunshine

Everybody talks about the shakes in PvP. Only those who have experienced it can truly understand its intensity, that brief feeling of euphoria. It's a gripping and heart pounding feeling. Sure, over time some of the veterans will tell you that the shakes don't last. Honestly, that accounts for any drug, your body and nervous system develops a tolerance. If you could bottle this feeling up, particularly the rush that one experiences in his early days of PvP then you'd be a millionaire. You'd also be responsible for a major problem. There would be an epidemic of Gaming Junkie Shake Syndrome, people would quite probably slump and die at their keyboards if they had access to this feeling on tap. It would be disastrous. The shakes are good in moderation.

But that's not what I want to talk about. There is an extreme opposite to this 'Shakes Adrenaline'. I'm talking about PvP Motion Sickness or Simulator Sickness. It's a very real and dangerous subject and pilots across New Eden are very much at risk.

The what now?

PvPMS is a rotten experience: you're enjoying your roam or your fleet fight, possibly one that you've anticipated for hours, when all of a sudden nausea creeps in, then a monster headache, and then possibly fatigue/or dizziness. If you're especially unlucky, vomiting will follow. Congratulations, you are officially a sufferer of PvP Motion Sickness.

Motion sickness that's triggered via gaming is more correctly referred to as 'simulator sickness', since, unlike more traditional cases of motion sickness, your queasiness isn't triggered by any actual movement. This is a frightening thought.

Is PvPMS a direct contradiction to the 'Shakes'? Is the search for one more hit of that shaky goodness triggering the sickness? As a recent sufferer I can confirm that my bout of PvPMS was indeed caused by my craving for that hit, that rainbow ride of nerve trembling ecstasy. Here's my story ...

I was PvP'ing on an alt as I only had an hour or so before I had to power down the computer. I wanted a quick fix. I was in my Merlin and I knew that the system I was in was going to provide me with my fix, or at least that was the plan. Blipping the directional scanner I am aware of an Imperial Navy Slicer that is heading my way. Confident that I am 'on the button' I prime everything. Sure enough I am soon locking up, scramming and webbing my fix-giver. Shields vaporise before my very eyes and the good shakes are about to kick in as I eye up my prize. This is a new toon and to kill a Slicer would sure as hell give me my fix. Then, just as my veins are ready to flow with the good stuff disaster strikes. Like some twisted nurse who just took away my vial, I notice that this Slicer isn't no ordinary Slicer. Oh no. To cut to the chase I am dead and warping my pod out.

But this isn't about the ship choices or the processing of the fight. It's that brief moment before the rush, snatched away from me in the most cruel fashion. And this doesn't sit well. The first thing to hit me is the headache. I dock up in station and then I become dizzy. I remember talking to my friends in some chat channels but I have to walk away. I am ill. What is this? Why does it happen?

Put simply, motion sickness is a feeling of ill health that's brought on through a conflict between our eyes and our inner ear. When your inner ear senses movement, but your eyes are observing a relatively static environment in the immediate vicinity (standing on the deck of a ship for example), nausea and headaches sometimes follow, and then the vomiting.

The link with PvP and motion sickness in general can be traced to this conflict between ear and eye. Our ancient ancestors would rummage along the forest floors for food. Occasionally we'd eat something 'bad' and the body needed a way of fixing this. Headaches and hallucinations would soon follow. Our brains were telling us, "Yo, something ain't right here you gonna have to spit that shit out boy", and sure enough there came the vomit. The body was rid of the poison.

So, we're back in that all-action heart-pumping PvP arena again ... the fight is going good and you're ready for that fix but then conflict rears its ugly head. This is the moment when you lose. Your brain is expecting something (the sweet victory) but it doesn't happen and this sends the signals for the nausea kick. By denying yourself an expected win and that good feeling that your brain knows as 'the shakes' you have in effect eaten something rotten.

Do you suffer from PvPMS? Do you know somebody who has recently or perhaps in the past been struck down? As we strive for excellence on the battlefield is it perhaps time to take a step back and think about our health before the possibility of the killmail?



  1. Addicted to winning?

  2. I've never experienced motion sickness or headaches due to a loss but short bouts of depression immediately after being exploded aren't uncommon for me, which I imagine is something along the same lines.

    Now normally I'm a very happy bloke but sometimes when I lose a ship in a situation that I didn't expect to go against me I feel pretty crap and often end up docking up and logging. This isn't me rage-quitting I might add, this is me feeling pretty bad about losing and just losing the (immediate) will to play Eve.

    9/10 times however I find myself logging back in within the hour, so it is very short-lived.

  3. PVP in general is just a rollercoaster ride. Euphoria to depression! Up down up down! A true drug! God I love it!