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Is The 3DS Making People Feel Sick?

David Gilbert


Is The 3DS Making People Feel Sick?

The Nintendo 3DS was launched in the UK about ten days ago, on the same day as the iPad 2, but while Apple’s slate continues to receive nothing but love, reports in the paper today suggest some people are suffering side effects from playing the handheld console.

The issue first arose in The Sun today when it reported that Sundeep Taylor, 27 from Luton started to feel unwell after playing his 3DS for just three minutes. However when he returned it to Game, they only offered home £176.99 for the console, £30 less than he had paid for it 24 hours earlier. Since then reports of people feeling ill or dizzy after playing the game have popped up across the internet. Some of the complaints found on Twitter included: “Warning to everyone, if you're already ill and have a migraine, DO NOT play the 3DS with 3D on. Urgh” and “Playing Madden on the new Nintendo 3DS at work...I feel dizzy/cross-eyed now”

TechEye has also quoted a source from within a popular chain of game shops in the UK who said that “staff had been told to keep customers in the dark about the 3DS making people feel dizzy or ill and returning their consoles.” One branch of the chain saw 30 3DS returns over the weekend with almost half, 14, being the result of people feeling sick, according to the source.

While reports of the problem continue to come in, Nintendo is continuing to deny any issues: "The number of calls and emails with queries on Nintendo 3DS is in fact well below the rate experienced during past hardware launches and having spoken with our retail partners in the UK there are only a handful of people who have actually gone into stores to request a refund."

Most retailers won’t give a full refund to people returning the 3DS because it makes them feel sick as this is not covered under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 which only covers goods which are damaged, not fit for purpose etc. It is hard to tell if there really is a problem here and if there is, to what extent it is actually happening. However should it persist, Nintendo will have no option but to do something about it.

Have you had any issues with the 3D function of the 3DS? Let us know in the comments.

Source: TechEye


April 5, 2011, 9:44 pm

It's such an obvious 'try before you buy' product i have little sympathy for these people. Also it has a slider to turn the 3D off, so can't the users just do that. Before anyone says they shouldn't have to, please refer to my first point.


April 5, 2011, 11:19 pm

I'm guessing in many cases this device is given as gift, not really a try before you buy scenario.

From the mass marketing Nintendo has been putting out it would appear it all just works, it's only after digging deeper that one sees there might be problems and even then for only some people, so an easily dismissed scenario.

However there are many open problems with this type of 3D technology, especially with children (and I do have some insider knowledge on the neuro bits). I'm actually saddened Nintendo went ahead - against all advice - with this product. After growing up with Mario since the NES it's not something I'd expect from them.


April 5, 2011, 11:46 pm

Tried the 3DS in Game last week end and was really impressed with Street Fighter but had trouble focusing with Pilot Wings. I felt a bit cross-eyed after and it reminded me of trying to see the 3D image in those old Magic Eye pictures. I can imagine that those who are suffering headaches are playing for too long and have the 3D effect too high. Also with any game system you need to take regular breaks as advised by the manufacturer (in particular Nintendo) but how many of us do?


April 6, 2011, 1:07 am

I'm interested that the article writes "as this is not covered under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 which only covers goods which are damaged, not fit for purpose etc"

...surely a games console which makes you feel sick is not fit for purpose?

Otherwise I agree with Simon, above - such an obvious "try before you buy" product.


April 6, 2011, 5:00 am

"Simon says: Try before you buy" lol.
I tried it in HMV. played both SFIV and nintendogs. The 3d effect seemed more like those holographic/3d cards, but with moving images, and didn't WOW me really. It all seems a bit gimmicky. It didn't make me feel ill at all, but I guess its because I was holding it a good almost arms length away from my face. I think if you hold it really close to your face, then it would make you cross-eyed and give you headaches, just like putting your finger 1cm infront of your eye and trying to focus on it.

On Gk.pm's point, I agree. I guess they will do anything for money now.

Sunny 1

April 6, 2011, 6:03 am

You are not holding it Right!
There problem solved.


April 6, 2011, 12:54 pm

I prefer the old fashioned way of getting 3D, just shut one eye and you have instant 3D on any moving image from any screen.

Luciano Howard

April 6, 2011, 12:57 pm

@ Emma Price - you must have a faulty console then.

I have one. I have suffered from headaches / eyestrain but not a major surprise - its a small screen, am unused to the 3d and so on. I do think the 3d in diff. games has a different effect. SF4 and ridge racer were fine but as soon as I played Piltowings the difficulties became more apparent. I am now using more sensibly, varying the 3d effect more and also at times just using 2d. My wife has had no issues and she's played more than me in total :)


April 6, 2011, 1:34 pm

With 3D you find that where the subject is moving more, your eyes get strained more. Case in point. Ridge racer is actually a static vehicle that you look at most of the time. It is the background scenery that is actually moving the most, but your eyes don't focus on that.

Avatar had the same effect, where there was a lot of foreground motion, I found myself getting headaches a eyestrain. Where the camera was fixed, the negative effects lessened. Moving cameras and 3D just don't work at all. Leading to blurring 3d that is hard to focus on. E.g. why Tron 3D was really bad on the eyes, particularly during the light-cycle races.

I just hope some actual research is done on 3D and the impact on eyes compared to relatively static 2D images that only have one point of focus. It seems companies can release anything these days without any sort of health/safety testing.


April 6, 2011, 2:04 pm

@darkspark88 It's a bit worse than that, in the case health testing was done but the problems were actively ignored in the name of profit.

For example its cunning how they got the American Optometrist Association to say it's no problem in moderation, but optometrists are hardly qualified to make such statements. Ophthalmologists (big difference) - like in our own vice president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists - and neuroscientists have been very critical of the whole thing.


April 6, 2011, 3:08 pm

There will always be people who can will themselves to feel ill because they think they should.

I recall a study once that bathed mobile phone mast protesters in a high-strength EM field - no-one complained. Then they were put inside a Faraday cage with no EM whatsoever, and told that they were stood next to a 3G transmitter. Lo and behold, everyone suddenly had a headache and nausea... ¬_¬

So... @Emma Price, forgive me that I must logically write off your 'symptoms' as being psychologically induced, and instead trust the fact that you "have the 3ds off 3d mode", effectively making it *identical* to a normal DS.


April 6, 2011, 3:30 pm

The complaints are pointless. You have to focus a bit more and thus you might feel eye strain after a while. However, I get more eye strain after playing 30mins of Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

@GK.pm: I really don't get your complaints against Nintendo. There's a 3D depth slider to help find a "comfort zone", and for the kids you mention, the parental controls of the console let parents turn the 3D effect off altogether, even if the slider is moved. Besides which, the '3D' may be in the console name, but isn't the only feature of the device, as if not being able to fully enjoy that renders the device useless. The AR games are very entertaining and the graphical capabilities and connectivity features are very much advanced over the current handheld gen of consoles (the graphics ARE better than the PSP, else some people can't see. And SFIV connects to online matches effortlessly).

This is just another round of tabloid journalism, which gained popularity with the Wii. Complaints of wrist strain and broken TVs surfaced; oh boohoo, we forgot games didn't like any form of exercise and whose fault is it the safety instructions weren't followed and no one was wearing the wrist strap?


April 6, 2011, 4:30 pm

@drdark The simple fact they allow parents to turn off 3D means they are admitting there may be some issues, and believe me there are, just look up expert opinions on it (like the Royal Ophthalmology one I mentioned). This is however not enough, how many parents can even understand why should they limit 3D on a platform clearly marketed for 3D? It's absurd.

Also the slider is also another admission of failure, but again we can hardly expect children will know when to tune to the "confort zone". Children would have the slider all the way up to 11 if they could. I think you'll find they have a high tolerance if it means their games look cooler.

This is a product with dangerously unhealthy potential, which Nintendo has opted to just brush off under the rug. I suppose their day in court will come some day for this, unfortunately only after causing the damage. It has nothing to do with the Wii problems, our eyes and visual system, even depth perception mechanisms simply haven't been made to be abused in this way.


April 7, 2011, 5:31 pm

...I've been using my 3DS every day since launch - no headaches or sickness so far. After a couple of days use your eyes just seem to be able to lock on to the 3D images with little to no effort.

Pilot Wings really utilises the 3D effect perfectly although it did take some time before my eyes adjusted to the depth of the backgrounds + your air craft floating above the screen, when I play now my eyes just know how to capture the 3D images without any delay in perception. Street Fighter IV also implements 3D extremely well, doesn’t seem to require any effort whatsoever to view the 3D images.

...also I very much doubt Nintendo would be unprepared for the predictable backlash with regards to health & safety concerns after their experiences with the Wii.

@ Gk.pm

...the 3D slider is in no way an admission of failure, in fact it's pure genius as everyone differs in their interpretation of 3D and also some games are better with 3D off completely.

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