Just when I thought 3D was a faded, "Avatar"-spawned fad, it starts popping up everywhere: TVs, smartphones, and now toys. I'm clearly not the target demographic for Nintendo's soon-to-be-released 3DS gaming device, but I can tell it's going to be a runaway hit with the kids. It's got the wow factor, the fun factor, and the pure novelty that combine to makes something buzz-worthy. But the part I wasn't expecting was Nintendo's serious warnings all over the device, packaging, and Web site cautioning that children aged 6 and under should use the 3DS only in its conventional, 2D mode. That's because, Nintendo has said, 3D viewing could potentially disrupt the developing eyesight of the younger set.
Concerned about the warning, we interviewed Dr. Andrew Iwach, an ophthalmologist in downtown San Francisco. As director of the Glaucoma Research Center, Iwach has done extensive research on the effects of 3D on kids' eyes. He told us the data on watching a 3D screen is inconclusive but that it doesn't point to any negative long-term side effects. He does caution, though, that moderation is always key when gaming.
That certainly proved true when my CNET colleague Donald Bell and I were playing around with the new gadget, which is set to hit stores March 27. Some of the features are seriously dizzying and nausea-inducing! (In fact, Nintendo's warnings have included advice to adults toafter 30 minutes of 3D play.) Among the more head-spinning features, for instance, are the augmented-reality games that read special 3D cards with the 3DS' cameras and then turn the surface of the cards into a playing field that interacts with you and the device. That's a great example of some of the seriously innovative tech behind the 3DS' wow factor. And again, I'm not the target audience for the Nintendo 3DS. But I have to say, whether we're talking about little kids or even adults, it sure is a good thing you can turn the 3D capabilities on and off.