Gaming in 3D may be the flavor-of-the-month, but it is not without its dangers. Sony yesterday updated its PlayStation 3 terms and conditions to warn users of "discomfort" such as eye strain, eye fatigue or nausea that could develop while watching 3D images.
From the new terms and conditions:
“SCEA recommends that all viewers take regular breaks while watching 3D video or playing stereoscopic 3D games. The length and frequency of necessary breaks may vary from person to person. Please take breaks that are long enough to allow any feelings of discomfort to subside. If symptoms persist, consult a doctor.
“The vision of young children (especially those under six years old) is still under development. SCEA recommends that you consult your doctor (such as a pediatrician or eye doctor) before allowing young children to watch 3D video images or play stereoscopic 3D games. Adults should supervise young children to ensure they follow the recommendations listed above.”
Look for Nintendo and any other users of 3D technology to provide similar warning in the future. Obviously, anything that "tricks" the eye/mind into seeing things that aren't there is going to cause problems for people who are prone to them, especially when you add the duration of time people spend staring at their screens while gaming.
Game site VG247 spoke to James Sutton, eye specialist and MD of British eye health company Butterflies Healthcare, and Sutton says that watching 3D for more than 90 minutes or so is likely to cause problems.
“A lot of people do say when they come out of the cinema that they are aware they’ve done something different with their eyes, even if it’s not to the extent of a headache or sickness, but they’re aware that it was hard work to watch. I’d have said that was more than enough.
“I’d would worry about people spending hours doing it, I must say.”
The whole thing reminds me of the epilepsy warnings that are plastered all over game manuals and whatnot -- it probably won't affect a lot of people, but I'm sure we'll be getting reports of people barfing all over their consoles after a particularly heated game of Killzone 3.
On a semi-related, autobiographical note: At a recent 3D event in L.A., one hopeful capitalist who will remain nameless had set up a miniature tent to display his 3D tech -- this was proprietary technology that isn't in use commercially anywhere as far as I know. Inside the dark structure, a rounded screen wrapped three quarters of the way around and displayed blurry, cell-like shapes. I put on the glasses, and the cell-shapes sprang instantly into focus, but before I had a chance to think, "Hey, cool! 3D cell-blobs!" a shooting pain shot through both of my eyes and into my brain, like dual ice-picks were being driven directly into my pre-frontal lobes.
"It's really painful," I said as I removed the 3D glasses.
"Yeah, that happens to some people," the man answered.
I left immediately, wiser and sadder about the price we sometimes pay for our entertainment.