By jakob187 75 Comments
*** During E3 2010, I began thinking about some of the things that are entering our medium of gaming to change the way we view, interact, and participate with video games. In a series of blogs outside of my regular ongoing Uninteresting $#!% blog, I want to take a look at some of these ideas from a philosophical, psychological, and theological perspective. Please feel free to participate in discussion. ***
Continuing my series of blogs in a post E3 2010 world, a prominent thing being displayed was the integration of 3D into the gaming space. When HD was being introduced almost five years ago as what would be the new mainstream for video games, many were in general agreement that it was the next natural evolution for our medium. We like pretty games, and in order for games to look prettier, we needed to put more pixels on a screen. However, looking at 3D, there is rarely a topic where opinions are so greatly divided. Therefore, let's explore this brave new world that is being pushed into our favorite hobby.
Is It Just A Fad?Why would it be? 3D is a concept that has been around for ages, and as we are humans by nature, we always want bigger and better for our entertainment experiences. 3D is quite honestly the next logical step beyond HD. We know we can make images clearer and prettier, but how can we get people to really feel like they are part of the experience? With movies and potentially TV, this stuff is a slight bit different than video games. You aren't talking about an interactive experience where many things can happen like glitches and bugs. Movies are preset images that move along, so the stereoscopy makes some form of sense with that.
Many say 3D is a fad, but it's not. It's here to stay, and instead of constantly putting studios and publishers down for pushing this initiative because we think "it looks bad" or "it's not well done", we should instead be offering feedback as to WHAT looks bad and WHAT isn't well done. That feedback is crucial to offering a better experience in future products. Completely dismissing this technology is denying the very thing that keeps humans going: curiosity. This is an exciting time to be in the technological side of entertainment, so why should we boo it when we could help to shape it? I'm sure a lot of people said the same thing when televisions were first coming around: "I don't need to see what I can already hear on the radio". We don't HAVE to see something popping out of the screen when we already see it on the screen. However, there is NOTHING wrong with offering another layer, a new experience. However, this brings up the next point...
Make 3D Optional and Glasses-FreeDespite the best efforts of all the greatest minds working on stereoscopy technology, there are just some people that 3D does not work for. Whether they have eye problems or get sick from the motions they are seeing while it is in 3D (hell, any myriad of problems), companies HAVE to make 3D optional! While it's almost assured that 3D capabilities will be an optional affair for the next year or two, that could always change at any time. Companies could say "we're only making them in 3D versions" in order to push the tech as well as push the hardware needed to get those 3D capabilities. Rushing customers to get into the tech is not the way to go, and I can personally only hope that any publisher worth their meddle would realize this.
The other issue is those doofy fucking glasses. Get rid of them! I don't want to wear them, you don't want to wear them, no one does. When I look at the 3DS, I can't help but think of how perfect Nintendo is getting this: a slider that allows you to customize the depth and amount of 3D (going all the way down to a 2D screen), as well as a glasses-free experience. Sure, the screen on the 3DS basically forces you to hold it at a certain place to get the 3D effect without going black and such, but they are also still very early in that tech. Who knows what can happen between now and the time they release it? Why aren't ALL of the 3DTVs taking this same exact route? Offer people a menu option on the TV that adjusts the level of stereoscopy to make sure they are comfortable in viewing their experiences, as well as offer a glasses-free experience. THAT is where you will grab people.
Cost of EntryWe can suffice it to say that going into the HD era was not a cheap endeavor, especially if you were a gamer. Aside from the $1000+ TV do get our 720 and/or 1080p on, we also needed the video game hardware. That was another $400+, bringing the basic total a minimum of $1400+. That's not including games, batteries for the controllers, and eventually the Blu-Ray player...unless you were buying a PS3 instead of a 360. Folks, we're talking about something that could've potentially sucked about $2000 out of your pocket...easily.
With 3D, one question is "what's the cost of entry going to be"? From the Nintendo Entertainment System to the PlayStation 2, we didn't have to upgrade our TVs that often unless they just broke and we needed a new one. Within the span of five years, we're at a point where we have to upgrade from an HDTV to a 3DTV. What kind of price tag does that carry? Well, a Samsung runs you about $2400 right now. However, we're not having to buy new hardware. The 360 is still the 360, and the PS3 is still the PS3. Therefore, what we're really looking at is just buying that new TV. Unfortunately, you will still have to wear those glasses, which seems stupid. Why am I spending $2400+ on a TV and yet I'll have to wear these extra peripherals in order to see it the way you want me to see it? That makes it seem more like a vanity thing of "hey, my TV does 3D" than an entertainment revolution. Given that the technology is getting better and better with every day/week/month, we can expect that price to be down in plenty of time for a better penetration rate in most households, as well as TVs that will eventually do away with the need for glasses.
Don't Rush The TechToo many companies want to jump on the bandwagon and push out a game with 3D capabilities. If the movie industry has taught us anything within the last week, it's that a rush job on post-production 3D can really destroy a movie (more than M. Night Shyamalan already could - yes, that's a dig at The Last Airbender). Gaming CANNOT do that. We're in an industry that (again) deals with bugs, glitches, frame rates, and so many anomalies that one small thing can equal one big problem. Also, we can't have this stuff forced down our throats. There was a time when people didn't have surround sound systems everywhere. That was a very limited thing. I remember when these things called compact discs were coming around, and it wasn't cheap to get one of these newfangled CD player things. However, time progressed. The music industry didn't push that tech onto people. They allowed it to naturally evolve, and it did.
In a consumer's world, corporations want to push the newest thing into as many homes as possible to get that all important penetration rate. It's about time we slowed the fuck down and just allowed this tech to take its necessary falls in order to get to its maximum capabilities. I will find a package far more endearing and worthwhile if I know that the tech behind it has had time put into it. Take a movie like Up and put it against Avatar. James Cameron spent years upon years building that tech, and the experience (at least for me) felt very natural with very little eye strain. Meanwhile, Up was the opposite, making my eyes freak out every five minutes or so to get readjusted. Take the time to really work this tech out, and you'll find a much larger group of people willing to believe in it.
In short, I'd like to say that the bickering and arguing about whether we do or do not like 3D is not going to make it go away. Moreover, why would we want it to go away? If we make it go away, we are merely stunting the advancement of technology for a more immersed experience. I beg and plead, stop the bitching. Rather than bitch about it, offer constructive criticism to the companies who are implementing this technology. Funny enough, they'll usually listen if a mass amount of people show that they care enough to help make a better product. Also, as long as it stays optional, you personally have nothing to worry about. You may not like 3D, but you aren't being FORCED into 3D except at the theatres. While that is quite the bummer, the theatres need something to draw people in. They believe 3D is that thing.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any of your own comments, you know where to put them.
*P.S. - As this is an ongoing series, I figured I'd offer a heads-up on the next entry in this series: why I think free-for-all and team deathmatch are killing the capabilities of multiplayer. Look for that one sometime next weekend.