Editor's note: I haven't tried 3D gaming on a console long enough to verify what Rick claims, but I do know that I came out of an Avatar showing with a monster headache. I hope that's not a taste of my gaming future. -Brett
Any reasonable human being outside of Sony's marketing wheel will tell you that 3D is neat. It's nifty. It's fun when it works well. And it's like taking a sledgehammer to your skull when it doesn't.
Before I launch into this rant against the 3D initiative that Sony pushed over and over again at E3, let me preface by saying I think the Nintendo 3DS is fine. It's a handheld. It doesn't require glasses, and it isn't going to affect me and my gaming habits in any way. That being said, playing 3D video games on your home television is the stupidest thing to happen to this industry and its core gamers since Nintendo trotted out the red-vectored 3D flop called Virtual Boy in 1995.
Three years ago, a group of friends and I ventured out to watch the movie Beowulf in 3D. We were stoked at the idea of CG violence in the third dimension. Axes flying over your head sound great on paper, but when your brain actually tries to process the overwhelming effects your eyes are absorbing over a long period of time, you’re in trouble. We walked out of the theater with excruciating, mind-bending headaches. All I remember about the experience was trying not to vomit (and, of course, Angelina Jolie's near-naked body).
The best part about all this 3D gaming nonsense is that no one acknowledges the difference between watching 3D films and playing 3D video games. Watching a film in 3D is a passive and controlled experience. Playing a video game, on the other hand, is an active experience, and in most cases you're controlling the camera yourself.
Let's fast-forward to a scenario.
It’s 2011. You're at your house and have a hefty amount of free time. You decide that you're going to burn the next three or four hours on Killzone 3 in 3D, so you pop on your overpriced 3D glasses over your normal glasses. For the first half hour, you're having a mind-blowing experience.
Then an hour passes and your eye fatigue kicks in. Now you can't discern any of the artistic nuances within the game. Stuff is flying at you too fast.
Another hour passes. Your eyes are exhausted and your head feels like it’s going to split open. You quit after an hour and a half despite yourself. You really wanted to keep playing but your eyes and brain couldn't handle the bombardment of depth-heavy imagery. And that’s Killzone 3 — kid stuff.
Just imagine Bayonetta 2 in 3D. Or Devil May Cry 5.
Damn, I forgot my glasses.
Eye fatigue is going to happen. Maybe not to everyone, but I know it'll happen to me and to other people with eye problems they’re not aware of. Soon our strategy guides will include a how-to-view section, like this one
for watching the 3D blockbuster Avatar.
So before you think about upgrading your TV, remember that 3D is not the next evolution in gaming. It is the result of a creative and marketing drought. Sony needs to capitalize on their shiny new television line, and ignorant gamers will pay the price because of that.
Trust me: 3D gaming is going to hurt. A lot.
The bright side? If this becomes the new standard, I’ll be physically restricted to one-hour gaming sessions. Maybe I’ll start watching golf blindfolded with 7.1 surround sound in my off time — you know, to really get my own immersion factor pumping.
Rick Knight is a professional online copywriter, designer, and blogger living in Vancouver, BC. Follow him on Twitter @knightrick or visit his portfolio website, gamerwords.com.