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3D Games Could Potentially Cause Headaches but are Still Pretty Sick

April 08, 2011

3D Games Could Potentially Cause Headaches but are Still Pretty Sick

By Chris DiMarco
TMCnet Web Editor

We’ve now reached a point in gaming where the computational capabilities of consoles and computers allow for a lot more than ridiculous graphics. Many current generation consoles now boast the capacity to offer 3D games, brining immersive and visceral experiences to a whole new level. While cool, the advent of 3D gaming carries with it some health concerns, including reports of headaches and eye focus issues. Health issues have dogged games since very early in their history, but verification of the proposed threats has always been hard to nail down.

Games are already associated with the risk of activating photosensitive epilepsy and have also been linked to musculoskeletal strains in the hands after periods of extended use. However the concerns surrounding 3D games are with eye strain and motion sickness, both of which have been documented in the gaming platforms offering the option.

To prepare users for these issues Sony updated their terms of service for the PS3 with a warning about the use of 3D games, adding the verbiage, “some people may experience discomfort (such as eye strain, eye fatigue or nausea) while watching 3D video images or playing stereoscopic 3D games on 3D televisions. If you experience such discomfort, you should immediately discontinue use of your television until the discomfort subsides.”

Similar issues have cropped up with Nintendo’s handheld 3DS which uses a dual layers stereoscopic screen to deliver three dimensional effects to players. Nintendo has also released statements about the health issues associated with frequent and extended use of the system suggesting that those intending to play for extended period take 30 minute breaks.

While both of these companies do not hide users from possible health issues, the technology has received some criticism. An article from the Sun claims that, “Record return levels were reported after thousands suffered headaches and dizziness,” from the device. The Sun also conducted a brief study stating that the gaming systems caused as steep rise in blood pressure and headaches in the test subject (complete with pictures of one of their staff members holding his head in pain).

But these “accounts” are questionable and an overwhelming majority of gamer-centric media outlets have made it their point to expose The Sun’s acquisitions as false. In an article for another physician found “gamers who are vulnerable to suffering sore eyes or short-term headaches from the Nintendo 3DS are "relatively uncommon" and risk no permanent damage.” The report from The Sun has also been dismissed by Nintendo.

The 3DS and PS3’s 3D capability have only been available for a short time, so the jury is still out on the long term health effects of either. For right now, it seems that while there are eye-strain and headache concerns with the 3D gaming, the issues are not enough to curb diehards from enjoying their favorite games in an extra dimension.

Chris DiMarco is a Web Editor for TMCnet. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) Chris worked with e-commerce provider Suresource as a contact center representative and development analyst. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

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