With all the cautionary tales out there of busted overhead light fixtures, smashed 4K TV screens, and people blindly walking into wood chippers, there’s some cause for concern that an immersive VR experience could spell doom. But there’s good news! Thus far, no wood chipper related deaths have gone reported. As for other VR related mishaps, they too can be avoided.

Here are some guidelines and suggestions to avoid peril and get the most out of your play space.

Overhead Clearance

Regardless of your floor space, having overhead clearance is essential. No matter how determined you are not to hit the ceiling, eventually you will take an overhead swing, and your ceiling and anything anchored to it aren’t getting out of your way.

Ideally, you should be somewhere you can jump with arms outstretched above and still have some headroom, but at the very least ensure you can reach up without obstacle. If you do have low hanging lights or fans in your play area, you can replace them with something else that is lower profile. Ask your local supplier.

Mind the Gap

The chaperone or guardian bounds are effective at keeping you within a safe zone, but if you’re right near the edge even they won’t prompt you quickly enough to pull a punch being thrown at maximum force. For safety’s sake, you should have at least an arm’s reach of distance between the edge of your bounds and any obstructions.

Protect Your Breakables

If you have a monitor, window, or fish tank right outside your bounds, protect it. If they aren’t in a position to be turned around or pushed back, consider covering anything in the danger zone with some kind of barrier. Cardboard, plexiglass, bubble wrap, Styrofoam, acoustic foam, or the like can stave off disaster before it strikes.

Turn on a Permanent Boundary

SteamVR and OpenVR Advanced Settings have chaperone settings that will leave a permanent floor outline around your roomscale space, keeping you always aware of your real-world position. An additional precaution found in OpenVR Advanced Settings will mark the center of your bounds with a box and an arrow directing you forward, helping ensure that you gravitate towards the middle. You can go even further by turning the chaperone or guardian zone on permanently too.

Use a Mat

Another way to remain aware of your real-world position is to place a mat right in the center. When you feel your feet leaving that mat, you’ll immediately know that you’re moving away from the center. Get a non-slip mat or use Velcro to prevent it from shifting.

Choose Games that are Standing-Only

There are plenty of great VR exercise games that will basically root you in place without straying towards hindrances. BOXVR, Audioshield, Fruit Ninja, Bitslap, The Fastest Fist, Hot Squat, Holopoint, Knockout League, and Racket: NX are all great examples. Even The Thrill of the Fight can be set for a 180-degree setup that will keep you from literally swinging for the fences.

Gorn, on the other hand? Not so much.

Use Your Wrist Straps

No one thinks they’ll accidentally let go of their controller until they do. The best prevention is to always use the wrist straps. For a few dollars more you can procure reinforced Wii straps from Nintendo to give you some extra security from snapping.

Put Your Pets or Humans in the Basement

Not all hazards are inanimate. If you’re in an environment where critters or people are roaming freely, ensure they are outside the impact zone by any means necessary.

Do yourself a favor and observe these simple suggestions along with some tips of how to avoid getting tangled in your vr headset cables. It’s a minor compromise on your part that could save you big bucks on replacing your assets or your companions.

Have any cautionary tales to share or safety tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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Tim Donahey
Tim Donahey is an NASM certified personal trainer, former competitive powerlifter, VR fitness enthusiast, and CEO of VR Fit. After more than 10 years in the fitness industry, Tim discovered firsthand the profound impact of using virtual reality as a tool for athleticism and embarked on a 50 day experiment to test the benefits of a purely VR based fitness lifestyle. The overwhelmingly positive results of his experiment lead Tim to found VR Fit where he develops and implements VR fitness solutions for people from all walks of life.