3D gaming: Gimmick or ground-breaking?

Posted By | On 28th, Jun. 2010 Under Feature

3D is coming to video games within the next few years whether we like it or not, but is it just a fad? It’s time to find out.

First off, just the term itself is rather confusing. Many of you may remember Duke Nukem 3D, one of the first first-person shooters to contain fully fledged 3D models. It looked rather like this.

However, when people refer to 3D nowadays, they mean stereoscopic 3D. That is, a technique used to give the illusion of actual depth to flat, 2D images. It’s not a new thing- Stereoscopy was invented in 1838 by a Sir Charles Wheatstone. And with the advent of films such as Avatar, we knew it wouldn’t be long until games cottoned on to the idea.

Now I don’t know about you, but I view 3D, in any form of media, as pretty gimmicky. That’s because, it’s never really 3D- half the time, it is just 2 layers of images; the foreground where the characters are, and the background, and this doesn’t really add much depth.

Plus, current 3D viewing requires everyone to wear silly glasses like this;

So far then, 3D gaming isn’t looking so hot. But what about practicalities? Surely stereoscopic 3D can lead to enhanced gameplay?

With the impending releases of Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Natal, 3D gaming could soon become on of necessity. It would certainly make things easier. Imagine being able to reach into the image in front of you, or squeeze the trigger of a weapon in your hand as waves of minions charge out of your telly.

However,”it will be technically difficult to match up user perceptions of space with what the motion control hardware can capture,” says Cohort Studios’ Peter Walsh.

Dell Product Manager Adam Griffin added, “More generally, there is still a lot of work to be done, with things like first person shooter games, for example. You look at the cross-hairs on some fps games, and it sits right in front of your eyes in 3D, which is really not a comfortable playing position for it to be. But there is definitely an opportunity for PC gaming companies to reinvent some of their key PC games for the 3D experience.”

Not to mention how uncomfortable 3D glasses can be. But with Nintendo’s 3DS, will this change?

The 3DS comes equipped with two screens – one 3D screen and one touchscreen – a motion sensor, a gyro sensor, and analogue pad and a 3D depth slider so players can toggle between 3D and 2D screen settings. Those lucky few who experienced the 3DS for themselves at E3 all claimed afterwards that the 3D slider gave a great effect, which allows you to shift the image anywhere between the awesomeness of no-glasses 3D and a flat 2D image (which might benefit some games).

Sony’s Playstation 3 is also ready to support 3D, with a handful of games already set to jump out of your screens. MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, WipEout HD and Gran Turismo 5: Prologue all support 3D- provided you can fork out $2000 for the TV too. However, unlike Nintendo’s witchcraft technology, the PS3 will require those uncomfortable glasses to be viewed in all it’s multi-dimentional glory.

Microsoft has been somewhat more stubborn when it comes to 3D gaming on their console- but a photo snapped in a South Korean gaming conference suggests the 360 may one day be played with those funny glasses.

All in all, it looks like it’s a toughie to give a verdict on this one. 3D in some games and films can turn out to be an anti-climax, an annoyance, even a distraction. But when Microsoft and Sony bring out their big guns later this year, we could see 3D turning into an incredible, surreal experience.

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