3D? Not for Me!!!

When I want an escape from reality, I like to drop down one dimension. See, I live in a very real 3D world – where every object within my grasp can be reached, grabbed or poked. Hell, even that slap that I usually get in return comes at me in all its three-dimensional glory. Four if you count the stinging sensation it leaves behind.

Despite this, the gaming industry is determined to follow Hollywood’s lead and try to get consumers to cough up more coin for yet more hardware. We’ve already seen a number of games given title updates to allow them to run on the new 3D TVs and Nintendo has recently launched its latest handheld unit, the 3DS; which provides the effect without the need for those gangly goggles.

The point is I see no point in 3D gaming. NONE!!! Not as currently constituted. Until I’m jacking into the Matrix or firing up a Holodeck and actually living the life, I’ve got no use for slapping on a pair of glasses that dim the screen all so a handful of tracers can try to fool me into believing their headed towards my brain pan. Sorry, I’m not buying it. If they want me to feel like I’m really bounding off a Koopa’s head, I better feel it to believe it. Give me full tactile gaming over cheap parlor tricks any day of the week.

Somehow, I don’t think I’m alone and I think the gaming industry is going to see yet another 3D fad rejected. In fact, 3D entertainment has a long history of wowing the masses at first glance before ultimately being rejected. It happened with 1950’s monster movies. Then again in the early 80’s when the slashers started hacking away at us from the silver screen – tossing a bucketful of green & red tinged gore into the audience. And now we’ve got James Cameron and his CGI Smurfs to thank for the latest push for 3D.

That we can now buy 3D sets for our homes is the ultimate irony. See, the whole reason this fad came around once again is because movie studios and theater owners were looking at a declining marketplace. People don’t go see first run movies the way they used to. Sure, the big event pics get asses in seats but most of the time, that’s good for one weekend only. Repeat viewers piqued with 1997’s Titanic when every teenage girl flocked back to the multiplex in hopes Leo would leave Rose to wilt and somehow take a chance on them. The days when people would return to see the same movie over and over again are gone with the wind.

Now that we live in an age where we can legally grab that first run flick and project in our own homes on TVs that rival the theaters (in terms of picture quality and the reduced likelihood of gunfire); people just wait a few months and watch it on their own time. And those that don’t want to wait, simply obey the pirate code of parlay and brave the bit torrents.

So, the industry looked for ways to bring people back and once again, that dusty old gimmick was pulled out of storage, given a fresh new coat of paint and set down before the masses. That’s where Cameron comes in with Avatar. The thing is, his flick is the anomaly. It’s a tech demo meant to sell the promise of 3D but it took so much money and years of filming to pull that accomplishment together. Don’t get me wrong – I liked the movie and saw it projected on the big screen but the majority of 3D flicks are quick cash-grab conversions that end up making the final product unpleasant and unwatchable (such as last year’s Clash of the Titans remake). It’s for that reason that I’ve only seen Avatar projected in 3D and I would have been perfectly content watching it the old fashioned way. Even when I bring my kids to see the latest Pixar flick, we always angle for the brighter 2D screening.

So 3D was brought out of storage to save the day and bring people back to the theaters and yet barely a year went by and suddenly the marketplace is flooded with 3D sets – essentially sending people back to the comfy confines of their homes. In essence, scrapping the launch moments before liftoff. And of course, the console game developers decided to jump on that rickety bandwagon.

Well, that’s a risky gambit. There will always be the fringe technological elite who buy up every new shiny bauble. The geeks love their “precious”. But the mainstream masses – those that took about 10 years to program a VCR, 6 years to fully adopt DVD and have just now, over the last 2-3 years, finally put money down on a flatscreen – are unlikely to flock to new 3D sets which require expensive glasses all for a gimmick that very rarely fires on all cylinders. So, the market is pretty slim and my gutt feeling is that’s the way it will stay. Home entertainment will eventually revert back to its original two-dimensional programming – albeit on better and better looking screens, and 3D will fade into the woodwork until we get to that grand future Hollywood has oft-promised and rarely delivered.

But first, I want my freakin’ hoverboard.