Three towering monitors flanked left, right, and center as I took my place in the throne of NVIDIA's suite in Boston; a keyboard and mouse gleamed in the light shed by the Acer Surround 3D-compatible monitors, clearly awaiting the divine touch of an experienced gamer. In the center of it all rested a pair of sleek, dark active shutter glasses -- this must be what King Arthur felt like when drawing Excalibur from the stone.
It was definitely an impressive future-sight into the world of NVIDIA; added together, I must have had around eighty inches of monitors within two feet of my face. Put it this way: I can now say that I have played games (specifically, Bulletstorm) at a full 5760x1080 resolution in 3D. Within a second of Michael McSorley, Product Marketing Manager at NVIDIA, telling me how to modify the depth level of the display, I had extruded weapons slightly out of the screen and added a feeling of realism to my scope. Just imagine what Battlefield 3 (preview here) will look like in 3D... not to mention Skyrim.
"We're not saying it'll make you a better gamer," Michael explained, "but it definitely compliments the gaming experience." I concur, and with over five hundred games currently compatible with NVIDIA's "3D Vision" line, the growth of 3D technology clearly supports a move into the future of entertainment.
The crispness and refinement in the game's characters were surreal; unlike the old-school and somewhat corny objects-flying-at-your-face style of 3D, 3D vision utilizes a synchronized 120Hz refresh rate and depth levels to control the detail of the games and the wearer's perception thereof. In league with GN's hardware editor, we can confidently state that 3D gaming will be the way of the future -- perhaps even a more mainstream market within the next eighteen months. To encourage the spread of 3D vision specifically, NVIDIA has released a free SDK on their website for game developers to ensure compatibility with the technology; George Millington, Director of Public Relations, noted that the company is actively working with developers to create 3D-compatible games.
3D hardware is also capable of capturing screenshots and videos that are saved in a special format for viewing with other 3D devices (which is web compatible, so you may well be seeing both 3D and standard 2D screenshots on our site in the future). To be able to share 3D screenshots and videos on social networking websites could be revolutionary -- and as file formats and hardware become standardized across the industry, I imagine it would one day be possible to view a friend's photo or video of a concert in 3D on facebook. The option to view 3-dimensional images and videos is currently available through NVIDIA's playback software, but to incorporate that within social networks would be amazing. NVIDIA has uploaded a few samples for those already in possession of the technology. The team is really going all-in on this one; it is clear that the transition to 3D platforms is inevitable, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.
Some people are just as incompatible with 3D glasses as paper -- we've all seen the complaints of headaches or migraines after extended use, but if I have my way, all infants will receive a 3D gene at birth in the future. Unfortunately, it's hard to know how tolerant you are of the glasses and display until after a solid day or two of use. While some stores do have the stuff out to play with (please, we beg you, clean the glasses prior to wearing them), it's unlikely that a few minutes in a store (with fluorescent lighting, nonetheless) would yield conclusive results.
Human limitations are not the only opposition to the current use of the new hardware; at present, the "3D Vision Kit" on NVIDIA's website runs you near $560 just to get an infrared-transmitting Acer monitor (signal between 1.5 and 15 feet) with a pair of 3D glasses (no video card is included in this kit). It's not necessarily affordable for everyone right now, but given the rate at which hardware prices decline, it won't be long before we can all load up on 3D goodness.
What do you guys think? Write in the comments below if this is something that you can see taking over the industry. Will the additional overhead be a hindrance to e-sports and competitive gaming? How long until the mainstream audience can start offloading their current monitors to purchase 3D-compatible ones? Let us know what your thoughts are on the state of the multiple variations of 3D gaming below.
Check our previous impressions of 3D gaming here.