I knew it as soon as I saw the pre-Cataclysm screenshots of Vashj’ir, and it sunk in a bit more as the ship I had boarded got ambushed in deep waters: Vashj’ir is a swimming zone. And while I knew it would take some adjusting to get used to the controls, I didn’t expect vertigo.
I’ve been questing off and on in Vashj’ir over the past few weeks, putting my cute little searhorsey to good use. I’ve been struck by just how 3-D the environment seems, with myriads of details from the surface all the way to the underwater floor. A majority of quests keep your character on one “level” of the zone, without a ton of vertical movement. That makes the swimming mount much like the flying mount to non-underwater zones — simply mount up, coast a few meters up from the ground, and go complete your business.
But it’s those quests that take me back to the surface that throw me off balance. Literally.
Such was the case one afternoon when I was sick with a cold and had nothing better to do than spend some time playing. Already slightly woozy from medication and the sickness itself, swimming horizontally was just about enough for me. But I was submerged in the story and trying not to think too much about it. Then I had to surface. As soon as my point of view shifted toward the surface, pointing upward with nothing in sight but the deep blue expanse, I lost it. My head was swimming with my character; the world was spinning. And I had to just log and go rest.
It’s an odd sensation, and it gives me a whole new appreciation for just how immersed one can be in a game. Even though I had to give up attempting to play in this particular zone while sick.
I know several friends who experience motion sickness while gaming, especially PC games in which you’re seated directly in front of the game world. Sometimes changing camera views or the level of zoom can help. Sometimes not.
While I’ve never been quite this sensitive to a game world, my time in Vashj’ir, even when in perfect health, takes a toll. Especially now that I’ve hit the deep blues within the Abyssal Depths. I love the beauty of the zone and I’ve been having fun with the lore — but even so, I’m looking forward to hitting that 140 quest mark and moving on to solid ground.