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3-D Gaming Is Waiting for Its Avatar

By January 23, 2010Newswires

3-D Gaming Is Waiting for Its Avatar
by Chris Kohler

With manufacturers rolling out 3-D television sets, the promise of videogames that transport players into deeply immersive 3-D worlds is inching closer to reality.

Emphasis on the inching. The burden of 3-D glasses, the cost of a brand-new 3-D TV, the paucity of programming — all the reasons that adoption of 3-D television will be slow as molasses also apply to games. But there’s one more treacly trap: Creating compelling games that drive players to buy expensive new 3-D setups.

Designers say it’s easy to drop 3-D into an existing game, but that’s where the work begins. As a result, it could be quite a while before consoles get their Avatar — a blockbuster title that fundamentally changes gamers’ experience and expectations in the same way James Cameron’s sci-fi smash has for movies.

“Since so many games are built on 3-D engines, run on ever-more-powerful machines and are displayed in HD, it’s becoming easy to make them stereoscopic,” said game designer Heather Kelley in an e-mail interview with Still, “stereoscopy is almost always just an enhancement to the image and the sense of ‘immersion,’ rather than a true game-changer,” she said.

To create a killer game that makes 3-D a must, designers need to start from the bottom up.

“I think you have to design for stereoscopy, even if it’s just for a superficial spectacle that in no way affects the gameplay,” said Fez designer Phil Fish in an e-mail. “Even just getting the ‘wow’ factor right is going to mean changing the way we do a lot of things.”

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