The Evils of the Nintendo 3DS

"You lookin' at me?" Miguel-Antonio De La Stripey, who played too many 3D games and now pays the price. Let this be a warning to you! Creative Commons image by Stefano Mortellaro.

Guess what? It’s not just your kid’s brain, reasoning power, and moral compass that may be obliterated by video games. It’s no longer enough that the video game industry has conspired to turn your child into a ravenous bugblatter beast who slaps prostitutes, shotguns rival gang members, kills mutant Bosses with chainsaws, grabs coins out of midair, invades Normandy, and chops on the green instead of putting, just for kicks.

If you let your children play video games, they won’t just murder you with hatchets; they’ll do it while cross-eyed.

I got the story from BBC News, but you can catch it over at Joystiq and Network World and even over at the Wall Street Journal. Nintendo put out a warning on its website that their new 3DS, which goes on sale in March, can cause damage to the eyesight of children under six.

The new device shows content on two screens, one as an overlay to the other. It doesn’t require those extra-cool 3D glasses, which means your children won’t only be cross-eyed — they’ll be far less fashionable.

The problem is, of course, that the device uses stereoscopic vision to create the illusion of a 3D image. Kids under six aren’t all that used to focusing their eyes on one point — hell, they just found out about pooping on the potty, what do you expect out of these kids?

Therefore, says the BBC:

Parents should turn off this function if the handheld is going to be used by a child under six years of age, said Nintendo. It said the advice it had received from experts also applied to other 3D content that younger children might be exposed to…The companies have also warned that watching too much 3D content can cause adults discomfort.

Having had my own eyes scoured by Avatar last year, I have to agree with the BBC on this one; I’m still twitching, and to this day I have to fight the urge to do violence every time I see a white guy with dreadlocks, or Sigourney Weaver. I already killed Giovanni Ribisi and stuffed his body in a steamer trunk, so yes, I think that could probably qualify as discomfort. Thanks, James Cameron.

Anyway, Nintendo isn’t the first company to suggest that 3D games can cause problems. Sony actually suggested that parents should get medical advice before letting children play 3D games on the PlayStation, which uses glasses. Toshiba’s device doesn’t, and according to the BBC article, “Toshiba has said parents should keep an eye on children watching its TVs that can display 3D images without needing glasses.”

Is that, like, the same way I should keep an eye on my kids while they’re field-stripping their AK-47s while sniffing glue, or is this more serious? Less serious? More serious? I can’t figure it out.

At least one eye expert told Fox News that Nintendo is probably overreacting, and the Wall Street Journal expressed bewilderment, stating:

Given scant evidence of medical dangers, it wasn’t known what prompted the warning from Nintendo, which echoed that of other 3-D manufacturers. Some people in the industry speculated that it was a prospective effort to fend off litigation.

…Derp! As with so many consumer technologies, the warnings are so overwrought and unclear that nobody can tell what the company’s thinking. Warnings like this exist for the benefit of corporations, who — in case you were wondering — don’t give a damn if your kid goes cross-eyed or not, as long as you don’t sue them.

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