News Article

Talking Point: To 3D or Not to 3D?

Posted by Corbie Dillard

That is the question

With the release of the 3DS in Japan, gamers have finally been able to sit down with the system and play it for extended periods of time. While this has led to a lot of excitement and rave reviews, it's also brought up a lot of complaints about headaches, motion sickness and blurred vision. Given that there are a huge number of gamers outside of Japan who have yet to experience the 3DS for themselves, this has led to a lot of concern regarding these problems. We thought we'd take a look at why exactly these problems have arisen and do a little testing of our own to see how our eyes handle the 3D effect.

To begin with, the human eyes see 3D on a constant basis in real life. Every human being with two functioning eyes views the world around them in full 3D, and it's what gives us our depth perception. If you close one of your eyes and line up an object close by with an object farther away and then switch eyes, you'll see that these objects no longer line up. The reason for this is that, while each eye is viewing the same basic image, they're doing so from slightly different perspectives.

The 3DS uses this same principle: the system sends the same picture of the action taking place onscreen to each eye with a slight variance between the two to each eye. Just like in real life, this adds the perception of depth to the screen that allows us to view things taking place on the screen in 3D.

So if 3D is something we have always been viewing in our everyday life already, why are some gamers having problems viewing it on the 3DS screen? Well to be honest, the majority of the problem likely lies in the fact that we've spent years playing games on our portable game systems in 2D with each eye receiving basically the same picture. Now all of a sudden this has changed and it's throwing our eyes off a bit. And just like many other things in real life, it can take some time to adapt to something completely new like this experience, and as some people are more sensitive to headaches and motion sickness, it can affect everyone a little differently.

It's like getting a new prescription for contacts or glasses: for about the first week or so you might have blurred vision, headaches and sometimes a bit of motion sickness, as our eyes and brains slowly become accustomed to the changes made to our vision. And for some, this will likely be the scenario with the 3DS as your eyes get used to viewing the screen in this brand new way.

Our Downloads Editor Corbie Dillard has had plenty of hands-on experience with the console since it arrived last week, and here are his thoughts:

Over the past four days, I've had a chance to put in around 30 hours of playing time into the system, with every single hour viewed at the maximum 3D setting. I wanted to try to push the envelope with the system early on to see how it effects not only my eyes but also see if I had any symptoms like headaches or motion sickness of any kind.

My first session on the first day the system arrived was a marathon four hour session with absolutely no break whatsoever playing Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. While my thumb wasn't so lucky, my eyes did perfectly fine with no real signs of fatigue or blurred vision of any kind. I also didn't experience any headaches or motion sickness throughout this run.

Over the next few days I would spend about two hours at a time playing both Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and Ridge Racer 3D, but so far I still haven't had any difficulties of any kind. Even when I'd switch over to my DSi to play Radiant Historia, I never noticed any problems focusing on the 2D after playing so much of the 3DS.

The bottom line is that everyone will have a different experience when it comes to playing the 3DS system. There's no denying that some will have problems viewing the 3D, especially at first, but for most people it will just be giving their eyes and brain time to acclimate to this new way of viewing and playing video games. Of course for those who just can't seem to comfortably play the system in 3D, you can always turn the depth slider to the off position and enjoy the wonderful 2D gaming side of the 3DS, which after seeing some of the amazing 3DS games in action, certainly isn't a bad thing.

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User Comments (80)



ZukutoBen said:

I tried it out in GAME™ and it works.Even though I have trouble seeing through my Right eye.



Corbs said:

Awesome! My sister is nearly blind in her right eye and cannot see the 3D on the 3DS system.



Jonny said:

What I'm more interested in: If the backlight is the source of the battery life being so low and the backlight is so intense to support the dimmed colours caused by the 3D, is it possible to give the battery life a good kick up the rear by turning off 3D and dimming the light?

Not that it makes much difference to me, my DS died last weekend which basically followed by me going "ah well, now I HAVE to get a 3ds" with a smile on my face



Portista said:

Wow. That makes me feel a whole lot better. Even though I probably wont play for more than 45 minutes at a time, I can finally relax without being worried about my eyesight. Thanks NL!



Demonic_St33V said:

Here's how I look at it - I spent hours with my face crammed in a Virtual Boy and never had any issues, so the 3DS should be no problem.



ImDiggerDan said:

"the majority of the problem likely lies in the fact that we've spent years playing games on our portable game systems in 2D"

I think the problem is more down to the eyes normally having to adjust focus for viewing objects at different differences. These fake 3d images are in reality all the same distance away and the eye doesn't have to focus. This is the more likely cause of any uneasy feelings.



Corbs said:

Well that might be a possibility, but I found that viewing the 3D on the 3DS is very similar to real life in the way, at times, you have to focus on different images that are appearing at different depth distances, inside of the game. And even though they're not really different distances apart, the same principal of focusing is the same.

Super Monkey Ball 3D is a good example. On the World warp screen, things are stacked up at varying depths into the distance and the ones that you're not focusing directly on are blurry (much like peripheral images in real life) and the one you focus on is clear. So it might be a different principal, but it's working very similarly on the 3DS screen.



J-Forest-Esq said:

Well, I'm going to wait until I actually get the system to try out the 3D effect, even with the tiny risk that it won't work for me. It's going to be a beautiful moment...(hopefully).



Spoony_Tech said:

I played the virtual boy to death when it first came out. Never had any problems there. This thing has already out sold the virtual boy I believe in pre orders alone. When more people learn about this console like the Wii it will start selling by the boat loads. This time it doesn't have any competition to go up against like the Wii did. I remember when the Wii first came out no one was talking about it. It was all ps3 and about a month after its release more and more people started to talk about how fun the motion controls were. Good times for sure as the Wii went on to out sell both HD consoles.



SanderEvers said:

I'll be playing 3DS games in 2D (as I can't see the 3D). But yeah, I don't know what I'm missing so it really doesn't bother me.



NintyMan said:

I'll have to play the 3DS myself, but I think my eyes can handle it. Sometimes I think people are overreacting to this 3D risk. I read books and play games a lot, and if staring at a book or a TV screen for hours doesn't harm your eyes, this probably shouldn't.



TeeJay said:

I can't possibly predict how my eyes will react to this until I actually try it for myself. I mean, I've never had any problems with any sort of 3D for anything before, so I can't understand how this is making everyone's eyes all buggy.



komicturtle said:

So, if you wear glasses, would it still be easy to play the games in 3D? I usually don't play with my DSi with my glasses on.



multiplayermadness93 said:

I think i'll be able to see fine because I watch 3d games and mpvies and pictures all the time and I never got motionsickness



TeeJay said:


Glasses don't affect the 3D. Whatever it takes for your eyes to see clearly is acceptable, be it contacts or glasses or nothing.



Metroid133 said:

I was always curious about this so at Best Buy one time I tried out a 3D TV they were demoing and I had no problems. My mother did not either! I wish I could say the same for my younger brother. He has one eye screwed up (and has glasses) so I think he was being serious when he said he didn't notice any difference. I'm just curious....wouldn't it appear blurry or something to him, or would it really appear like a 2D image? Either that or he just can't tell the difference. O_o



jdarrell said:

Are there any legitimate sources for 3D complaints? The only ones I've seen all sourced the same troll site.



melvin2898 said:

I'll play 3D for a while but I'll mostly do 2D. As long as the 3D isn't mind blowing I'll stick with 2D.



Monsti said:

I checked out the thing Friday and was really really surprised how well I took the 3D. My eyes start hurting after a few seconds at the cinema but here I played for 15 minutes with the slider up to the max and really enjoyed it.



Slapshot said:

I've had a few issues, but mainly little problems with Stereoscopic 3D. I'm really hoping that I can at least get a few hours in at a time without migraines with 3DS. I kinda doubt I'll be able to handle much at all on the highest settings, but I'll be danged if I don't try!



Kid_A said:

Great article! I hope 3DS skeptics are able to find out about it, because it's a well thought out piece that puts things nicely into perspective (no pun intended)



NeoRausch said:

ah well, i'm halfblind one the left eye. i just gotta wait and see (hurr!). but there is plenty more that attracts me then the 3D-Visuals



Xkhaoz said:

I'll use it probably a bunch if it works, but I guess my opinion will change over time.



NESguy94 said:

The muscles in my eyes are too strong, so my eyes look out instead of together like a normal person. I can't see 3D either.

I'm more worried about that horrible battery life.



djosh444 said:

ive tried the 3ds out and there arent any issues with it affecting eyesight, as i have trouble focusing with my left eye, but focused on the 3ds fine, i think it will also depend if you are in the sweet spot properly or not, otherwise it might become blurred or black sheen because of the angle



AlexSays said:

Hey hey hey, I haz another question!

Do we know what DSiWare games will NOT be available for download on the 3DS?



Rockmirth said:

my left eye is kinda weak but i am able to see 3D on movies with glasses (they really should make normal glasses with 3d effect in them) so i should be fine watching this on the 3ds right?



NeoRausch said:


i'm not quite sure yet, because i was to a 3D Cinema a few years ago and could see the 3D. the next two weeks will tell.



Kid_A said:

Haha wait, did Corbie write this whole article and then midway through refer to himself as "Our Downloads Editor Corbie Dillard," and then proceed to quote himself?

Because that deserves some kind of special recognition



Corbs said:

For the record, I did not refer to myself in that article. That part was changed during proofing. LOL I'm arrogant, but I do draw the line somewhere.



CanisWolfred said:

I already know 3D gives me headaches due to the movies I've watched. I'll be turning the 3D off, assuming I ever get a 3DS, which I might not since Mega Man Legends 3 is apparently being cancelled.



Megumi said:

Well seeing how I get headaches from 3D in the theaters, headaches from this thing seems very likely for me. So, I dunno...yeah...I'll be spending just as much time on Black than Nintendogs or that Bust-A-Move game anyways...and yay for depth slider, lol.



Tails said:

I'll be turning that 3D on full Blast. I can't wait. Its my mother and sister that can't handle it.



SwerdMurd said:

max 3d forever, max volume, and i'll be sitting in a chair with a fan on full blast blowing into my face for maximum dramatic emphasis. I might hire a really weak guy to occasionally punch me in the stomach when I get hurt in-game.



shinesprite said:

I think I heard a rumor somewhere that the analogue 3D slider merely flexes the screen slightly, adjusting the interwoven LCDs' focal points.

Whatever, all that I care is that it works, and works well I may add.

However, I am curious. Does the 3D slider click at the bottom to tell the system that it is displaying in 2D (and a higher frame-rate)?



Gavin_Rozee said:

My eyesight sucks, I have difficulty focusing on someones face if they're moderately far away (I probably need glasses), and when I tried the 3DS I could see the 3D 100% perfectly with no problems at all.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@Corbie: They've really got the tech running well enough to introduce eye focus into the equation? I'm impressed! That's something I've noticed was sadly missing from the 3D movies I've seen.

@Mickeymac: It's not apparently being canceled, there's simply a chance it will be. It may well depend upon sales of other Capcom 3DS games, to see if the company really has a good market on the system. I wouldn't worry too much about it just yet.



Token_Girl said:

I think it also depends on how well the 3D is programmed in game. I know I've had problems with headaches with some 3D movies (Tron), but I've had no problem with others (Avatar).

I also wonder how much the slider will help. It's nice to be able to turn 3D off, but I wonder if subtle 3D will really be less straining than full 3D, or if it doesn't make a difference.



moosa said:

It probably also depends a lot on whether you're holding the 3DS 5 inches from your face and playing for 14 hours at a time. I'm being dramatic but I mean it too. Fact: You can get headaches and blurred vision from staring at any screen for too long, especially when it's close to your face. Also, Japanese are known to be more prone to motion sickness in videogames already, regardless of the 3D. I wouldn't be surprised if the 3D had a greater effect on those who were prone to motion sickness though.

There's that explained.



SeniorDingDong said:

I have a very weak right-eye and cant stand 3D games or 3D cinema. No surprise for me. My strategy is to hope for a significant price drop for the DSi XL



JoeDiddley said:

When my 3DS arrives in the post it will be the 1st time I have seen it in action. I'm sure everything will be fine.
I get motion sickness but games don't make me feel queasy. I was slightly worried that Super Mario Galaxy would (some review sites even mentioned that it could) but I played it for hours on end & felt great.



Corbs said:

Okay here's the lowdown on the battery life. It's not consistent. I did a test with brightness on the highest setting, wi-fi on, 3D on high, and volume on the highest setting playing Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. First test from full charge until the system shut itself off was 2 hours 51 minutes. I then performed the exact same test using all the same settings and game and played the very same story mode repeatedly again and got 2 hours 19 minutes. In an effort to see why there was such a disparity using the exact same conditions, I did the test once more and got 2 hours 32 minutes. So these should be the minimum battery life statistics, although they are all over the map. I then gave up and decided that battery life is decent, but not great and that's that.



Corbs said:

Perfect. Not a problem one. No blurry vision, no tired eyes, and no motion sickness. So far I've had no problems with the 3D, even over extended periods of time. (Hope it stays that way)

EDIT: Wow I just answered a question that doesn't exist.



AlexSays said:

I realized it was in the article after the fact. lol

Sorry, but thanks for the response. Hopefully those of us that enjoy 3D movies and such will also be perfectly okay.



Slapshot said:

@Swerd... I'd really love to see that.

@Corbs... Heck of a job with the battery life stats. I'm always around a charger so it's not a big deal for me at all. I enjoy being able to pile up with the wife on the couch while she watches a movie with my handhelds. That is why I love them so much.



Kid_A said:

Thanks for those battery life stats Corbs
So since you had the 3D and brightness all the way up, and Wifi turned on, it's probably safe to say we'd get another 30-60 minutes of play with more conservative settings.

I'm wondering how well the battery life does with Streetpass turned on.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@Corbie: Does the system come with a convenient way to play while charging? I've been concerned about the idea of the charge cradle being the only charging option, and I really don't see being able to pick it up and play like that.



AlexSays said:

I thought you could just plug it into an outlet with the AC adapter.

Thought the cradle was just an added shell if people wanted to charge it that way.



Corbs said:

You plug the AC Adapter into the Cradle, but you can just as easily plug the AC Adapter directly into the 3DS and play it while it charges. Trust me, you don't want to play it while it's on the thick cradle. That would be a nightmare.



StarDust4Ever said:

REally, what's the sense in a bulky cradle when I can just plug the adapter strait into the back of the console? I don't need an extra middle man between the wall and the 3DS. But since I'm a big electronics geek anyway, I might decide to mod the charging cradle to power off a generic USB charger. A simple diode connected in series with the DSi will provide the necessary voltage drop to get the it down to the recommended 4.6V.



SyFyTy said:

First off, all you people that say you've tried a 3d tv at a local store and fooled. There is NO SUCH THING as a 3d tv without glasses. The whole reason this 3ds is making such a big splash is because it is the ONLY screen that REAL 3d is possible on (without glasses). read that again.. I said THE ONLY ONE. Don't take my word for it, when you get a 3ds march down to your local dealer in 3d TVs and compare them. THEN and only THEN will you realize what is sold in stores today is NOT REAL 3D! Is HD on an active backlight screen often on an active matrix LCD.. Unfortunately too many electronics dealers sell mid def TV's as HD so when someone really sees HD (which requires HD proramming which costs extra)That is NOT the same. the 3d TV's these stores pitch is FAKE, its no more than a marketing ploy. Show it (the 3d tv) to your local physics professor and he'll stand on what I'm telling you.3d TV is (today) impossible without glasses. Thne only reason the DS succeeds (at true 3d) is ONLY ONE PERSON is veiwing it so it can deliver TRUE 3d to that one person. a theoretical 3d tv today can not do that, it is physically impossible. This thing WILL kill all those 3d TV ( & comp screens) claims for sure as people discover what 3d REALLY is.



Capt_N said:

I know one thing, I'm definitely gonna try one out 1st hand, as that is the only way to tell if it effects me personally.

@StarDust: I would assume the shell to set the 3DS into whilst charging is more, or less like a placeholder on one's desk. Rather than having to constantly position the 3DS on your desk/nightstand/etc. while it is simultaneously closed, & charging.



outrun2sp said:

I'm gonna take a pass on the 3ds I think.

Battery life is one thing but I don't wanna take any risks with my 33 year old eyes. I suffer from migraines once or twice a year and dont have confidence still that this machine will be safe on the eyes long term. Mine or Anybodys. I will wait it out for 6 months to see what the reports are. Certainly not letting my 4 year old daughter have one.

I'm gonna play it safe and wait for sonys machine. Don't think any other machines will be going down the 3d route.



tripunktoj said:

I remember suffering from migraine the first month or so with long playing sessions on the N64, and NGC, so it could happen again. But memories and experiences from Mario Kart 64 first sessions really were worth it, and once gone they never returned, I am determined to go through that again it it'd be the case on 3DS. @65 I also started feeling dizzy on park rides, I used to do perfectly as kid



anthonyDotNet said:

I remember when the Virtual Boy came out hearing how alot of people had these dizziness and nausea spells, but I never did. I always chalked it up to being used to 3d (and 2d) gaming for years. I thought at some point in my life my constitution to these things will get worse like riding spinning rides at a park. Prior to 12 I could spin like nuts and then 12 on up I couldn't anymore without getting super sick. Well fast forward to 2011 and I still have that same Virtual Boy. Still not sick from it and my eyes still don't hurt. I'm sure it's a person to person thing, everyone is different and can tolerate different things. Needless to say, at least the 3d effect can simply be turned off.



TeeJay said:

@ 63

The 3D doesn't have to be on, you know...
But I guess it all depends on what kind of games you like. Nintendo and Sony tend to play different genres of games, Sony being sports and FPS and the like while Nintendo being Mario, Kirby, Pokemon, Zelda, etc.

Consider that before you make a decision, and remember that the 3D effect is an option, you're not obligated to use it.



AlexSays said:

Sony doesn't make any sports games and we've already established there are a lot fewer FPS games on the PSP than you give it credit for.

Also there is no point in paying 250 dollars for a 3D device when you don't plan on using the 3D.

Try seeing this from a non-Nintendo-happy perspective.



anthonyDotNet said:

But what also makes it enticing are the other non-3d related features such as the movement stuff and better augmented reality (via the included game cards).

If neither of those do it for you, then there's always the dsi. That was a nice real big step from the previous models. I know I'm probably the only one who likes this app, but the sound board on the dsi was alot of fun. Only wished it allowed the ability to save multiple sound boards rather than just one.

Now to get Galactic Pinball, Red Alarm, and Teleroboxer on the 3ds! Those were great on the VB.



k8sMum said:

@ corbie: EDIT: 'Wow I just answered a question that doesn't exist.'

AHA! a side-effect of 3D gaming not mentioned anywhere else!! (or psychic abilities, i guess.)



k8sMum said:

CORBS: have you played any games that require the player to go from the top (3D) screen to the bottom screen often? i have read where SOME have a bit of trouble with this aspect, ie the constant need to refocus on 2 different type screens...



Macaronius said:

Whether 'tis nobler in the game to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous 3D, or to take arms against a sea of two dimensions, and by opposing end them? To play: to read; no more; and by reading we end the heart-ache and the thousand game-overs.



xAlias said:

I'll probably get a 3DS in, say, 20XX. There's no way I'm going to get the system for 250 bucks.



Corbs said:

Super Street Fighter IV 3D and Super Monkey Ball 3D are both games that feature things going on down on the lower screen, so I have had the chance to switch back and forth between the two screens and I haven't noticed any re-focusing problems at all.



motang said:

Definitely going to try out the 3D, but I don't like 3D movies cause of the stupid glasses, but since this is glass-less then that argument is out of the door.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@AlexSays: Sony DOES make one sports series, actually: MLB The Show. They used to have their own Basketball series as well, but dropped that a couple of years ago. I do generally agree that the "sports and FPS" concept of what Sony platforms offer is total bull. I've got plenty of adventure games, third person shooters (not the same thing!), and RPG's on them, too.



MeloMan said:

@ Corbie Maybe this question matters or not, I dunno, but, are you nearsighted or farsighted? I'm nearsighted personally and I also wear glasses. I typically take them off when I play my DSi, depending on how far I'm holding it from my face. Didn't know if this would have any effect on your tests, but who knows?



Ren said:

Don't really get the charger dock thing with such short battery life. It makes it easier to set down when not in use at home but it makes more sense to just leave it plugged in to the unit when playing at home since the battery life is so short. but with only one ac cable that means then moving the cable back and forth all the time from the dock to the 3ds to play it. thus it negates the convenience of being able to just set it on the dock when you probably have to hook the ac cable up to it again from playing it. Looks like it'll be worth having two ac cables all the time to leave one in the dock.



3XDStar said:

Hey Corbie or anyone who knows the answer to this, when you play music on the DSi or 3DS can you close the screen and still here the music? Like if you wanted to put it in your pocket and listen to music.



theblackdragon said:

@3XDStar: i know for a fact that if you have headphones plugged into your DSi and are listening to music via DSi Sound, you can close your DSi and continue to listen to music uninterrupted. If you are listening to music in DSi Sound, close the DSi, and then plug in a pair of headphones, though, you won't hear anything.

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