3D gaming

The Oculus Rift VR headset is a leading contender in this initial push for 3D gaming.

Will 3D gaming end up going the route of 3D movies — an afterthought that doesn’t much surpass the brilliance of normal, 2D gaming/movies? One blogger at Rock, Paper, Shotgun sure thinks so.

John Walker asserts in his latest editorial that 3D gaming, though it’s exciting to think about and grabs a lot of hype from both fanboys and content creators alike, will only see sales in a niche market and therefore will suffer through lack of continued support from the creators behind all that hype. He’s looking at Valve and Oculus as two of the major players in the field; Microsoft has even introduced some impressive tech of its own. Those companies who are giants now, however, could fall to the same reality that overcame 3D television.

The basic premise begins with the fact that people are really good at perceiving 3D all on their own. Gamers who are playing a first person shooter, for instance, will imagine their characters walking around in three dimensions. There is no need for more than one screen or an expensive set of goggles to get a human brain to fill in the details. This is the same case as it is with television where viewers can imagine the virtual environments with clarity that goes beyond the two dimensions of the screen itself.

Working in reverse, then, it is easy to see why 3D television contained so much hype but was ultimately doomed to fail. It takes effort on the part of the user to sit in a specific spot where a 3D TV can project that final dimension; it also takes effort to put on a special pair of glasses to see that depth. And sitting in the right spot or putting on the glasses is too much work for the rewards they offer.

Gamers don’t want to put on headsets and have to stumble around their rooms to experience a world. Their minds, much as the minds of television viewers, can do it for them. There is no work involved when the brain is good enough to construct thoughts that create a better form of what 3D gaming headsets/glasses or special televisions are trying to achieve.

After explaining those two concepts in detail, Walker then explains the second and final problem — the nail in the coffin — for the coming wave of new gaming headsets: a lack of games. Creators such as those mentioned above will push at the outset for a host of games tailored to 3D. Once interest wanes, though, there will be less demand for those games and therefore less money for developers to create novel 3D worlds. Games will become like movies where most are made into normal versions first, and if they are big enough or can generate enough hype as individual pictures, a 3D version could come to theaters.

Those movies fall into their own niche because not every movie will be made to support three dimensions. Games will end up moving down that same road, Walker says, as interesting but piecemeal events that only a few, select individuals can experience. The games won’t be good enough, nor the experience itself enthralling enough, to combat the costs and hassles of owning a virtual reality headset.

In short, interested readers should look for the gems in the rough — the cool games that arrive initially and the novel projects that appear as a matter of course. Just don’t expect the whole market to continue pushing for 3D when 2D will prove that it works just fine.

Image courtesy of Sergey Galyonkin via Flickr.