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Gamers explore 3D dangers

Confabbers stress importance of quality control

Beware bad 3D.

Throughout a two-day confab on 3D gaming, speakers warned about the dangers of subpar programming that makes consumers physically uncomfortable or unimpressed.

The 3D Gaming Summit, which concluded Thursday, brought repeated calls to maintain quality standards set by “Avatar” and “How to Train Your Dragon” in this crucial, early phase of development, lest they turn off gamers.

When it’s good, it’s great,” RealD president and co-founder Joshua Greer said during Thursday’s luncheon keynote address. “When it’s bad, it’s going to make you sick.” The program, held at the Universal Hilton, was produced in association with Variety.

The vidgame biz is several steps behind the film world in 3D rollout, and is still grappling with technical issues as the first wave of 3D TVs hit the market.

Green said the vidgame industry could learn much about 3D from the theatrical world. His advice: “Make it easier, make it comfortable and improve the experience.”

The key, filmmakers advised vidgame counterparts at the confab, is to use 3D technology wisely, avoiding old-school gimmicky.

“3D if correctly used greatly helps immerse you in experience,” “Resident Evil” director Paul W.S. Anderson said, advising vidgame developers to save the stereo effect for dramatic moments. “There’s nothing wrong with use of positive space,” he continued, but “you just have to make sure it’s an organic experience.”

“Avatar” producer Jon Landau said it was important that the movie also played in 2D, and vidgame developers should do the same. “You have to make a game that stands up on 2D,” he said early Thursday before moving on to Earth Day events celebrating the DVD and Blu-ray release of James Cameron’s hit. “Then 3D is the cherry on top of the sundae.”

Unlike filmmakers, who must create a one size fits all 3D movie for theatrical viewing, vidgame developers can build in adjustable settings that allow consumers to tweak games for personal comfort.

“If 3D’s going to work well, content creators need to control the content,” RealD’s Green said.

The need to guard against eye-strain came up repeatedly at the confab, with various experts demonstrating how game sequences can pull eyes in too many directions.

Vidgame experts say the side effects can be mitigated by proper design and by adjusting viewing location. But it is a greater issue for 3D viewed at home than at theaters.

“The longer the distance, the less the problem,” said Martin Banks, professor of optometry and vision science at U.C. Berkeley, one of the top experts on stereoscopic 3D.

Experts predict it’ll take at least three years before 3D gaming becomes well established.

(Liz Stinson contributed to this report.)

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