Monday, June 21, 2010

Is Nintendo Jumping on the 3-D Bandwagon Prematurely?

The e3 announcement of the 3DS has been pretty much the talk of the video game town since e3 came to its flailing end. Initially the thoughts of a 3-D based video game system angered me to my very core. The reason being, like 4-10% of the population (depending on which source you use), I cannot see in 3-D. You may be thinking, "wait, you can't see in 3-D - what does that mean?" Very little. I see very similar to the rest of the world - it isn't like I am walking into chairs and the world doesn't look like a big picture book. I have a problem with my eyes and they never learned to work together which is a requirement in order to see 3-D. Seeing in 3-D is a learned skill not naturally given and since my eyes didn't work together, I was never able to learn to see in 3-D.

My life was fine without 3-D. I may have missed out on a lame monster movie when I was younger or may have been unable to see Freddy Krueger slice and dice in 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 6' but overall I didn't feel shorted by my disability, if you can call it that. Then...James Cameron, the cold hearted bastard, decided to come out with 'Avatar' and make the entire world go batshit crazy about 3-D. A bad movie is still going to be a bad movie even in 3-D (I'm looking at you countless horror movies that are being released in 3-D this summer). Not saying that 'Avatar' was a bad movie. I never saw it. I could of course watch it in 2-D but from what I hear - the glory of the movie lies in the 3-D effect not in the story itself. Personally it looks rather inane to me, but I digress.

Once 'Avatar' hit its great success, the 3-D bandwagon became full quick and Nintendo was sure to jump right on. It took very little time for them to announce that they were creating a 3-D handheld. It also took very little time for some video game pundits to start raising some questions about 3-D. Nintendo silenced them by announcing that the player could play the games in 2-D.

Now, as a non-3-D seer, let me put it to you this way, seeing a 3-D movie in 2-D is like being sober at 2 in the morning at a frat party - not really a whole lot of fun. Game developers are going to make the games knowing that the user's will be seeing them in 3-D so a great deal of the content will be lost in 2-D. Think of playing the Super Nintendo without the ability to see the Mode 7 pieces of the games - most of your favorites would be missing the wow factor that made you fall in love with them in the first place.

The reason that Nintendo's arm was twisted for the 2-D capability is twofold. One, it appeases me and my disabled core of non-3-D seers and two, it allows children under 7 to still be able to play it. Medically, it could have adverse effects on children under 7 to see 3-D imagery.

There are now reports from some scientists and researchers saying 3-D films can have adverse effects on those greater than age 7 possibly causing blurred vision, headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue or even nausea seeing as the eye must readjust its normal focus in order to see 3-D (1). A study by the University of California Berkeley has shown that 3-D can cause unhealthy brain functions, especially those of younger viewers (teenagers and younger), but reduce in older adults (50's+) going against Nintendo's demographic (2). According to Russian eye doctors, too much 3-D during a short amount of time can cause paranoia and delusions. They state that users shouldn't view 3-D movies more than three or four times a week (total of 6-8 hours of gaming time a week - try restricting a 13 year old gamer to less than an hour a day). For some with particular medical issues, 3-D should be avoided altogether (3).

Now, let's take all of this into perspective. Children under the age of 7 shouldn't watch 3-D movies or play 3-D games. Anywhere from 4-10% of the population cannot see in 3-D. New research has shown potential health risks with too much 3-D (which, if the 3DS is found to have adverse effects on children, the American backlash alone will be pretty severe). Is Nintendo making a mistake jumping on this bandwagon when the Wii and DS are still successful? Even more important, how will Sony and Microsoft challenge Nintendo with these hurdles that Nintendo will have to jump (mentioned above)?

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