Lock, Stock, and Barrel: 3DS Edition

Nintendo has always had a place in my heart.  It was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that first introduced me to the joys of video games.  It is because of my experience with Nintendo in my youth that I have always looked at the company as maker of games for families and kids.   Recent headlines have put a bit of a scuff mark on this image.  This Lock, Stock and Barrel, we examine what people are saying about the recent announcement by Nintendo.

What Happened?

Earlier in the week Nintendo made an announcement warning users that the 3D graphics on the 3DS cause greater strain on the eyes and could potential lead to vision problems for younger children.  With the upcoming preview next month in Japan, fans will get a hands on look and experience with the new handheld.  Unfortunately, after recent announcements, children will not be allowed to participate.

Media Response.

“Depending on how you look at it, Nintendo is taking a pretty big risk with the introduction of the 3DS.” says Matthew Humphries of Geek.com.  “Even though there is a slider to turn down the 3D effects, this is a handheld meant for games to be played in 3D.” Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku writes, “Viewing 3D at a young age could have effects later in life.” “Nintendo points out that the vision of young children is still in developmental stages, which is why it recommended that they do not use the 3DS’s 3D effects as well as watch 3D movies and 3D television.” This is not the first time such warnings have been brought to the table though.  Daisuke Wakabayshi of the Wall Street Journal informs us, “The warning is similar to those made by other makers of 3-D consumer-electronics products. Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. all provide warnings on their websites about the possible risks of viewing 3-D images for children younger than six.”

What precautions are Nintendo taking to avoid these issues? Well they “recommend that you take a break every 30 minutes as a guide,” for all players.  The reasoning behind this being that, “3D gameplay causes eye fatigue more quickly than 2D gaming,” reports Nilay Patel of Engadget.  Humphries weighs in writing, “I don’t think anyone takes any notice of the guidance given for any piece of electronic entertainment. When was the last time you played a DS game and kept an eye on the clock for a break every hour?” “…If anyone is going to get sick playing on a 3DS it will be after a purchase has been made. Hopefully Nintendo’s 3D slider will allow for such sickness to be controlled or removed completely. If it can’t then we’ll hear a few complaints, but Nintendo must know the majority of players will be happy and sickness-free.” He later adds, “Once you have really tired eyes it’s difficult to carry on looking at the screen. That may not be a bad thing, forcing kids to go and do something else for a while.”

According to Fox News, “Dr. Michael Ehrenhaus, an ophthalmologist with New York Cornea Consultants, thinks Nintendo and Sony may be getting ahead of themselves with these disclaimers.” Fox News again, “But eye strain from 3D may turn out to be merely the latest in a long line of fears about television and video gaming. It’s similar to the widespread worries that arose after flashing lights in games led to rare epileptic fits, or the old wives tale about sitting too close to the television.” Dr. Ehrenhaus concurs, “A lot of these myths never really play out.”

People’s Response.

Strando410 writes, “There’s no big deal at all. It’s just Nintendo covering their ass…   Like Wii remote straps, this warning is purely for accountability, a necessary evil in the litigious 21st century.” MrClint says, “I like how they are so responsible and warn people about the real side effects of the 3D gimmick. Many small kids will probably jump on it like wild animals because they simply do not know that it could harm their eyes.”

ColinStein wonders, “… how many parents actually know about this eye development under 6 years of age? I know there’s plenty of people I talked about about how children under 6 should watch 3D movies and no one had a clue that it’s bad for those children.” Which is why ConfederateRokr thinks it is a, “Smart move by nintendo, the parental controls were a good deciscion. Kids aren’t going to keep themselves from playing in 3D.” Although ColinStein retorts, “how many kids are going to slide that 3D back up anyway? This guy would.”

My Thoughts.

When discussing video games and raising children we will always run into a conflict.  I think it is smart of Nintendo to give warnings about these types of things.  Yes it most likely stems from a legal protection necessity but it goes a long ways towards helping warn parents about possible issues.  I don’t have much experience with how 3d effects will hurt a child, but I do remember the same things being said about 2D games and television when I was young.  I spent more than healthy amounts of time in front of a TV playing my NES and somehow turned out ok.  That said, I think it is wise for us to keep these warnings in mind when playing around with new technology.

In the end it is about taking care of yourself and Nintendo warns that for some people the 3DS visuals can be hard on the eyes.  They are doing the right thing here and incorporating parental controls and 3D adjustment sliders to help prevent any negative issues.  As far as how 3D games can have an effect on children under 6?  Kids that age don’t need video games.  They need imagination, legos, dolls and cardboard boxes.  I didn’t start playing any video game until I was 6, and at that point it was well monitored by my family.  For those worried about this technology hurting their young children I think Ontariogirl put it best on The Huffington Post: “Here is a tip. You want to experience a 3D game……­.go outside and play.”

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Geek.com, Huffington Post, Engadget, FoxNews, Nintendo (translated via Google), Kotaku


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Author: VTV Staff View all posts by