3D Gaming: A Step Too Far?

The debate about whether or not video games pose risks to our health is ongoing, but the recent release of the Nintendo 3DS ushers in even more cause for concern, as its new technology changes the way we view our virtual realities. A mere 24 hours after hitting the shelves, the revolutionary device had been reported to cause ill health with little more than three minutes of gameplay in certain cases. While 3D technologies have transformed substantially over the past decade, such news has rekindled an old flame that everyone tiring of, and has caused a new stir in the emerging digital world.

When a developer has even the smallest of stumbles, they prepare themselves for a bashing from the press, consumers, and competitors. So, exactly how dangerous is this new console? Is this all a fault on Nintendo’s part, and are there any larger, potentially human-friendly products in the works?

Nintendo’s 3D-without-glasses approach is a little iffy at the moment, but certainly removes the need for the elusive, expensive, and stupid-looking eyewear that was previously said to be the way forward in gaming technology. Today’s three-dimensional imaging (not that blue-and-red 50s stuff that got this controversial ball rolling) works by flashing two separate images into either eye, and Nintendo has recently managed to achieve this without the need for specs or other fancy gizmos. Still, with its booming popularity, it is definitely clear that the 3DS could do with some tweaks.

Health incidents with the 3DS mean that the countless benefits 3D gaming can offer to the masses are being kept on the down-low. For example, exercising with Wii Fit for hours can be very entertaining, and throwing 3D into the mix would make it seem as though you’ve nabbed yourself a lucrative system that proves difficult to hate. Why fork out for weekly yoga classes when you can have them in your own living room, surrounding you?

Samsung warned UK residents as early as April last year that emerging advancements in the way we visually consume television, games, and other media have always posed serious health risks, including the possibility of strokes and seizures in youngsters. Pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with serious health concerns were also advised to avoid 3D functionalities altogether.

In contrast, some experts claim that because not enough research into excessive 3D viewing has been done, we also cannot be certain of any silver linings following conclusions that will eventually be drawn. Some argue that the Nintendo 3DS in particular (while advised not to be used by children under seven years old) may have the ability to strengthen growing eye muscles. Being handheld, the distance the screen sits from the eyes is of particular interest in this case.

The Nintendo 3DS is serving as the final straw when keeping the risks of these digital developments from us: why has it taken so long for possible hazards to be amply highlighted in the media? Obviously, we can conclude that not enough has been done by previous companies and filmmakers adapting to 3D technologies to tackle these problems before releasing new products onto the market. It would seem that we are no more than guinea pigs at this stage, and that is not how the gaming and media-savvy population would like to be labelled, to be sure.

As it is inevitable that competitors will follow suit, concern grows that newer evolutions could put consumers at greater risk. In the case of children with access to violent, adult, 3D games, the immersive quality of the added visual dimension can be implicated as further blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. While Nintendo certainly hasn’t delivered any seriously mature material with their new bit of kit, the question still stands since the 3DS’ release: “What should we do about the people who want to vomit after using our product?” Or more generally, “How do we develop a safe 3D console that everyone can enjoy?”


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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