I like being entertained, just as much as I imagine that most of you do. Through whatever medium that might be: Books, films, TV, video games, pen and paper RPGs. I'm not much for sports and going out to clubs these days, pretty soon I'll need a Zimmer with a controller and screen built in.
All joking aside though, there's one element of modern society and gaming/movie/TV culture that's making me pause, scratch my head, shake it sadly and wander off to do something else instead. I'm talking of course about the propensity that everyone and there dog seems to have about 3D.
Nintendo are due to launch the 3DS pretty soon. I've had hands on with this nifty little handheld, seen the potential and the quality of the 3D for myself and there's nothing there that really drags me in. It's not like I'm one of those old Grognard gamer curmudgeons either, I can usually see the worth in anything given enough time, it's because I'm a writer and I see the pitfalls that every 3D movie or game walks right into.
Let's look at 3D in movies for instance, it's become the norm in every 3D movie (just watch Drive Angry, 300, Resident Evil Afterlife) to place a sequence where something flies out of the screen, not because the story requires there to be a spear sticking six feet out from the screen at that time, but because the audience does. 3D is padding out movies and making it a short cut to proper storytelling, removing the need for interesting character interaction, well shot action sequences and camera angles that don't require a spear in the eye every five seconds. Basically, it's like adding multiplayer tacked-on to a 3 hour single player story in a modern FPS.
It's impossible to go more than 10 or so minutes without there being something that leaps out in a 3D movie. They work the first few times, but after around 8 or 9, there's a feeling of boredom that creeps in for me and I actually feel like going to sleep. I came to see a movie, not dodge some imaginary weapon thrown at the audience like confetti at a wedding. Resident Evil Afterlife is extremely guilty of it. I miss the days of being entertained by the script, the dialogue, the witty banter and the storytelling.
Granted, not every film is like this and 3D isn't a new concept, I remember the terrible Freddy 3D film that was shot in red and green. At least stereoscopic 3D looks better and has a more realistic 3D effect. Yet I'd rather it took a hike just like the red and green 3D did and was consigned back to the depths of hell where it first came from.
Why? Because it's making writers/storytellers lazy basically and that's one reason I wait for films to hit DVD these days. I don't see why I should be made to wear a pair of uncomfortable special glasses to enjoy a film.
Also, I don't like having to replace my existing technology to be 3D ready. It took me ages to jump onto the HD bandwagon, when I did I was pretty glad because HD was actually worthwhile in terms of picture quality and so on. I could finally see my GTA IV mini-map when the cops were chasing me. So now I need a 3D ready TV to be able to enjoy a game like Arkham Asylum in 3D?
A classic case in point in the game industry is the PS3 and Killzone 3. It has motion control and 3D, wow...or so you might think. I'm not one that's impressed by this kind of thing, so when I took a look at Killzone 3 in 3D I was initially unimpressed at the graphical quality. I switched back to the regular six axis controls too, didn't like the Move at all for that game. Once I'd turned off the 3D though, I was actually able to appreciate the crisp textures and quality of Killzone 3's graphics.
So industry, listen closely - 3D is fun, yes, it's nothing more than a gimmick at the moment however and it's not going to replace my good old 2d image on the screen for a long while. It doesn't seem to add any extensive benefit to the gameplay and I regard it as a niche addition at best, something for people who have 3DS' or 3D TV sets and numerous pairs of glasses, because that's another thing about 3D in general, you can't watch someone playing a 3D game and appreciate the game with them unless you're all wearing the damn things.
I can appreciate though that out there, there are people who think that 3D now is the next best thing to sliced bread, well, since I am not all that fond of sliced bread (bread in general) it's not going to win me over any time soon. Not until the industry really thinks about how to implement it, both in films and games, so that it doesn't appear to be an excuse to hurl objects at the screen and make the audience giggle and duck because flying chickens soaring out of the movie screen are OH SO SCARY!
It's a gimmick more or less and I hope just a fad. Bring back interesting characters, complex plots, action and adventure in the movies and interesting locations/puzzles/concepts in games...and for the love of all that's holy and unholy - please...make sure a game lasts more than 4 hours.
Yes, I'm looking at you Medal of Honor, you don't even have 3D as your excuse!