Vertigo – the momentary disruption of the stability of perception – is an intriguing game element that underlies many unique play experiences, such as spinning in circles as children to rock climbing as adults. Yet vertigo is relatively unexplored when it comes to digital play. We explore the potential of Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS) as a game design tool for digital vertigo games. We designed and studied a novel two player GVS game, Balance Ninja. From study observations and analysis of Balance Ninja, we derived three design themes and six design strategies that can be used to aid game designers of future digital vertigo games. With this work we aim to highlight that vertigo can be a valuable digital game element that helps to expand the range of games we play.

Talk at CHI PLAY


Byrne, R., Marshall, J., Mueller, F. Designing Digital Vertigo Experiences. TOCHI. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interactions, Vol. 27, No. 3, Article 19, May 2020. 1-30. ACM.

Byrne, R., Marshall, J., Mueller, F. Balance Ninja: Towards the Design of Digital Vertigo Games via Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation. CHI PLAY 2016. Full paper. ACM. 159-170. Talk videoBEST PAPER HONORABLE MENTION

Mueller, F., Byrne, R., Andres, J., Patibanda, R. Experiencing the Body as Play. Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI 2018. Long paper. ACM. Talk videoBEST PAPER AWARD (top 1%).

Byrne, R. Designing Digital Vertigo Games. DIS 2016 Conference Companion Publication. Doctoral Consortium. 25-26

Byrne, R., Marshall, J., Mueller, F. Designing the Vertigo Experience: Vertigo as a Design Resource for Digital Bodily Play. TEI’16. Long paper. ACM. 296-303


We thank Joe Marshall, University of Nottingham, UK, for his support.