The 3D Cake Is a Lie
I don’t like being fooled. I don’t think you like being fooled either, but you’ve probably been tricked at least once or twice a day without even realizing it. Don’t believe me? Open up a piece of art. Turn on a video game. Google some images. More than likely, each of these visual stimuli are doing one thing, and one thing only: tricking your eyes.
Yes, the 3D world of Skyrim is a lie, the depth of the models in Starcraft II is a lie, and the painting of a mountainside, like the cake in Portal, is also just as flat as a blank piece of paper. There is no such thing as the third dimension on a flat screen. Frankly, that’s okay with me. I accept it as a limitation of the medium, in the same way painters and sketchers decided that statues alone would have the honor of 3D art.
This is all changing now, with the introduction of super 3D graphics.
Now, you’ve seen it in movies, probably. If you haven’t, that’s fine; it’s a lot of expensive anyway. Just slip on those glasses and suddenly there’s depth of field, blurring of bits out of focus, or in the back, and if something comes towards the camera, if really does look like it’s going to hit you in the head. It’s a neat illusion, and it’s a little surprising the first few times you experience it. I watched Ink Heart in 3D, and when the main character spit into the sink (with the camera inside it), I felt the need to wipe my face afterwards. However, I see through their clever ploy.
What I am watching is still a two-dimensional screen. It’s flat as the side of a skyscraper. There’s nothing 3D about it. And now it’s in our video games, too.
Maybe I’m missing the point of 3D in general, but as I said, I don’t like being lied to. I’m fine with having the pseudo third dimension added to an otherwise flat surface – that’s been happening ever since man took pen to paper, trying to emulate reality. But as soon as I see something that’s trying to be even more of something it’s not irritates me. It’s cheap, a gimmick that’s kinda nifty.
A sweet paint job doesn’t change what’s under the hood.
And in the same way I don’t see popup books as “three dimensional reading,” I have yet to see the use of 3D gaming, be it on a console or a handheld device. We’re already trying to hit that elusive dimension as it is. Trying even harder without actually getting there is a little bit silly and childish.
The only way I can see 3D properly introduced into gaming is as a pivotal mechanic. Like space on a newspaper page, there’s a limit to how much stuff you can pack into a game. You can probably guess by now that I’m not a huge fan of the idea of 3D in general, and mostly this is true. Indeed, I have yet to watch a movie in which having the “jump” factor has changed the experience for the ultimate better. The same principle applies to gaming. Aside from being a visual trick, it brings nothing, in my mind, that traditional art doesn’t.
Fine. Basically all I’m saying is that until we can actually run around in a room full of robots while firing missiles from my ears, I can’t actually call anything 3D gaming. This is not to say that there are no good 3D games, but I kinda need to ask why. Until I get that answer, my money stays where it belongs.