Report: Japanese 3DS owners turning off 3D because of tired eyes

Why? Eye strain. Specifically, stereoscopic 3D fatigues the eyes more than normal, says Bashcraft of Kotaku:

The anecdotal conclusion I’ve reached is that [eye strain] is the result of having two screens. The top screen can display the 3D effect, while the touch screen is in 2D… This focusing, re-focusing and then focusing again on each screen could be the cause of [eye strain] I’m having.

The other issue is that the 3DS requires a sweetspot for the 3D effect to be viewed. So you must stay in the same position to view the 3D effect… This makes it difficult to relax ’ like listening to music and constantly have to turn up and turn down the volume. You can’t focus on simply playing.

When the 3DS launched, many Twitter users complained of eye strain, so others do seem to be affected by the 3D effect. I’m finding particular difficulty with the Professor Layton game ’ reading text in 3D hasn’t been fun… causing my eyes to work hard to produce the effect.

Despite turning off 3D, which is optional, Bashcraft says he is happy with hardware. “The 3DS doesn’t need 3D, and neither do I.”

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the majority of 3DS owners ended up turning off the effect?


  1. It’s beginning to look more and more like my iPad will remain my portable gaming platform of choice for quite some time…

  2. there is also a article on the gamers blog on destructoid about the 3ds after playing a week with it, and that guy still uses his 3ds with 3d effects on since launch and has no problems at all , i think everyone has to find out for himself if the 3d fits him of her.

    to be honest i found a lot of friends that have the headache problem with portable gaming in general.

    concentrating on a small screen can be a bit hard on your eyes.

  3. So the problem isn’t wih the short battery life?

    Or the poor launch game selection?

    Or the high cost?

    Or the _______________ (insert complaint here).

    I look forward to trying it myself. I expect to be too busy to twitbook or faceter or whatever.

  4. Would love to see, you know, actual numbers associated with this. Far too often now in the “Twitter age” we associate the vocal minority that has access to an extremely easy-to-use and viral tool with a “trend.”

    That said, I’ll be honest: I’ve been more skeptical about this system than any released by Nintendo in recent memory. This doesn’t help. It’s almost as if they were so desperate to disrupt the apple cart again, as they did with the DS and Wii, that they panicked and pulled the trigger on the first “new” idea that presented itself. Mainly, glasses-free 3D.

  5. I’m actually anticipating using the 3D for short bursts of game fun and then switching it off for long-term sessions–Like having a portable thrill ride on call.

    Come for the 3D, stay for everything else.

  6. It would be Alanis Morisette-brand ironic, but not real ironic. :]

    I’m withholding judgment until I get one in my hands and see for myself. People react very differently to all kinds of experiences… some can’t play games in a car, or can’t view 3D movies at all without feeling sick, yet I have no problem with either of those things. And since Nintendo included a slider for this very purpose, why don’t they just turn the 3D effect down instead of all the way off?

  7. thats too bad. but i’m still excited to see it in 3d. especially star fox 64 in 3d. i dunno why but that just sounds better and better to me.

  8. Again, this all comes down to how many people can use the 3D. How many people can’t see this kind of 3D at all? How many people can’t use it for extended periods of time? If those two groups of people are significant, the 3DS is just an overpriced DS.

    The 3DS isn’t a make or break situation for Nintendo, it does give competitors time to make in roads into portable gaming.

    I love my DS. I love Nintendo’s software. I’m not convinced that they made the right choice chasing 3D. Just a few more weeks until I can see a demo unit I guess.

  9. This could be a weird question, but since the 3DS uses two images to fool the eyes into seeing the “3D” effect. Would it be possible to “train” your eyes into becoming used to this effect? Like shutting one eye for a while to get a different depth perception, or would this be hazardous to your eye health?

  10. Apparently it really does depend on the specific person, Nintendo have been trying and trying to do 3D for years and I don’t think they’ve ballsed this one up.

    There’s no doubt that 3D causes more eye strain than 2D, there’s no doubt that some people can’t see 3D, but I still think that this is going to be blown way out of proportion.

    The 3DS is an EVOLUTION, not a REVOLUTION, in the same way that a GBA was to a GBC, or a Gamecube was to an N64. There’s gonna be some awesome games on this console, and I’m gonna play ’em, 3D, or no 3D.

  11. Brian Ashcraft has as much right to post an article like that as I do to write about stuff on Infendo, but unfortunately one person’s opinion on eye-strain suddenly becomes “Oh-no! 3DS is doomed!” I love that he says that you should still buy one just for the hardware and online features alone, though.

    And I’m going to second Richard’s 3DS slogan: “Come for the 3D, stay for everything else.”

  12. Real 2D > fake 3D. Be nice to your eyes and kind to your mind — you’ll need them your whole life, long after this silly trend is buried with the ET carts out in the desert.

  13. I don’t think I would have a problem with the 3D effect. plus OoT 3DS is coming out in June, so I can’t wait for what they will do with the 25th Zelda Anniversary, i’m hoping for a special zelda 3DS. I planing on getting a 3DS when they come out with a special bundle.
    The 3DS will be seeing some direct Wii ports, also the lego video game developers said 3DS lighting was better than the Wii.

  14. Yeah, I’m not sold on the 3D aspects yet, but I am eager to try it out and see how my eyes do. That said, the 3DS will most likely be an eventual purchase for me, as it will continue Nintendo’s tradition of great portable games. I’ve still got to get through the rest of the DS games I want to play, though! 🙂

  15. I think we just need to get used to the 3D w/o the stupid glasses.

  16. Since most people thought the DS would fail and it did spectacularly, it has crossed my mind that the opposite is taking place now. I hope I’m wrong, but the relatively high price of the unit, plus the high price of games and the short battery life, and now this, are making me nervous.

  17. He does have a good point about having to look back and forth between the 3D and 2D touchscreen. To be honest, I think it’s a little odd why the original DS didn’t have just a single touch screen instead of having one touch screen on bottom and one “normal” screen on top. Sure, the touch screen saves space – but no one ever complains about TVs only having one screen.

  18. It’s certainly not doomed and I fully expect Nintendo to enjoy great success with the 3DS, but on a personal level, I’ve yet to find the “hook” for the system. The launch line-up is extremely bleh with no real “killer app”, and all the games so far seem to just be refits or remakes, no true innovation… yet. I know cool stuff will come, but for now I’ve no real plans to purchase a 3DS simply because I don’t see any games that I’m dying to play.

  19. @NekoKnight
    The DS doesn’t have just one touch screen because the original concept was to have 2 screens from the get go. After some tests, they thought it would be interesting if one of the screens was touch sensitive.

  20. @Artefacto
    Yes, I know. I’m not saying it was a bad idea – I think having two screens is cool. But I still thought it was a little weird of Nintendo to make a decision like that. Two screens means a higher manufacturing cost. It would be cool if both 3DS screens were 3D. I know Iwata-san mentioned that 3D and touch screens don’t mix, but they’ve already got 3D touch screen smart phones in Japan that do exactly just that. Oh well, I guess it doesn’t really matter now.

  21. @Chelsea. You could be right, but wouldn’t turning off 3D on something with 3D in the name be more than Alanis Morisette ironic? Wouldn’t it be a contradictory action, unexpected, aka actually ironic?

  22. Ok, let’s make this clear: watching ANY screen for a long time WILL result in eye fatigue. Watching a 3D screen WILL increase how fast eyes become fatigued. 3D Movies aren’t more than 2.5-3 hours long and thus, since the 3DS is a portable, that’s the ammount of time people should be using it. I understand that since it’s a brand new portabel some are going at it for 6+ hours at a time, but that’s their fault, not Nintendo’s (they TELL YOU to take a break every now and then).

  23. @Blake

    This would be like O. Henry and Alanis Morissette had a baby and named it this exact situation!

  24. I believe that 99% of what most people describe as “ironic” isn’t really ironic at all. People use it as a substitute for “coincidental” or “extremely unfortunate”. True irony involves a reversal of expectations and a negative result, usually inadvertently brought about by someone’s actions taken specifically to avoid said negative result. So there’s some kind of tragic moral lesson about it.

    “Oh wow, we wore the same shirt today! How ironic!” <- Coincidence. The person may not expect to wear the same shirt as another person, but they didn't go out of their way not to, or cause the other person to wear that shirt. There's no moral lesson here.

    "You're from Seattle? omg, me too. That is so ironic." <- Coincidence. Same as above.

    "You got straight As in high school but flunked your first college class. IRONIC!" <- Unfortunate. We may expect them to do well in college, but we don't know if the negative outcome was caused by something they did to avoid it.

    "I bought this 3DS system but I turned off the 3D because it strains my eyes!" <- Unfortunate. It's not really unexpected; Nintendo anticipated that some people would want to turn the 3D down or off, people can try before they buy, and it doesn't make the system unplayable. It would kinda defeat the main selling point of the system, such as buying an HDTV when you own no HD content, but it's always been a known option. Not ironic, just a baffling under-utilization of power. Again, no tragic moral lesson here.

    "10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife." <- Unfortunate. Just because the person can't find a knife doesn't mean fate or the universe is conspiring against them for a crazy unexpected outcome, nor was the lack of a knife caused by the person themselves.

    "I brought this sword into the forest in case I ran into enemies, but then was attacked by a bunch of jocks for carrying such a lame sword." <- Irony. The person's expectations are reversed, and an unfortunate situation is caused by the very thing they did to try to ward it off.

    And that's my big dumb irony dissertation :]

  25. Well, didn´t use the touch screen in last gen either that much (maybe only zelda, yoshi´s touch and go and some point and clicks) but for the majority I think we could have done without. Same goes for the dual screen, do we really need that second screen? The combination of new feautures was the big appeal on the DS. However the way used let me down a bit.

    In the end it´s all about the great franchises having a new release. I don´t care about 3D. Just Mario (Kart) Zelda and Donkey Kong.

  26. (i was quoting archer.)

  27. Question: can you wear 3D glasses to see the effect at any position?

  28. No you can’t Mark.

  29. This reminds me a lot of the problems many people had initially with the first generation DS games… The problem was forced implementation. All the first games on the DS forced the implementation of either the stylus or the dual screens or both, with many of them making it too difficult to enjoy a game. After a year or so, the players didn’t become smarter or got used to the two screens or stylus, it was the developers who learned when to use those features in the DS, or when not to use them at all.

    Similarly, I expect that eventually developers will learn when their game needs the 3D effect, or if they need to use it at all. Right now, don’t expect them to release a 3DS game without 3D in it!

  30. not racist but i dont think i would compare a japanese eye to an american eye i mean come on they are NOT the same!!! i have a Asian friend and his eyes are tiny! like less than half the size of my eye he took his glasses off and they were like dime sized! plus hes blinder than a bat and hes gonna get a 3ds! i think hes gonna faces issues i wont.

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