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Why 3D isn't "helpful" for DiRT 3

"Can actually be quite nauseating."

Stereoscopic 3D has been touted as the next big thing for racing games – indeed Sony claims 3D gives gamers a "competitive edge". But for one upcoming racing game the tech does more harm than good – and can even make you feel sick.

The game is DiRT 3, the rally racer from Codemasters, which supports stereoscopic 3D only in a basic way on PC - and not at all on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Chief game designer Paul Coleman explained to Eurogamer why.

"For us, with it being quite a horizon based racer, 3D isn't as helpful as it would be in a game like MotorStorm where the environment's changing around you, stuff's falling down and you're doing big drops. That feeling of depth is far greater.

"For us we're always racing for that point at the centre of the screen. You end up in a 3D environment getting a bit of a tunnelled effect going on, and it can actually be quite nauseating if you're doing hour or two-hour long playing sessions."

During a presentation at the Develop Conference last year Sony Computer Entertainment Europe senior director Mick Hocking described in detail why playing Gran Turismo 5 and MotorStorm: Apocalypse in 3D is better.

"With something like a racing simulation, this gives us greater accuracy," Hocking said.

"You can judge or brake a distance to a corner that much better than you could before. You can position your car on a track with greater certainty. You can judge relative speed to the other cars or relative speed to the track better than you could before."

On upcoming arcade racer MotorStorm: Apocalypse, Hocking had this to say: "We can throw particles through the screen at you. We can make the building feel like it's going to collapse down on top of you. It helps to enhance the sense of speed and scale and excitement in the game."

Sony's comments were later countered by MotorStorm: Apocalypse's game director Matt Southern, who admitted 3D makes playing games "more intuitive" but insisted there is no advantage to be gained from it.

"The analogy would be, you're playing a game on a fifty-inch high definition set and someone else is playing it on a CRT with a coat hanger hanging out the back," he said. "The analogy essentially works in the same way. The flashier your kit the more flattering it is and the more likely it is to make games that involve understanding and judging the environment a little more intuitive.

"But we're never going to be in a situation where the only people setting the best scores online are the ones with stereoscopic 3D. They're just going to be the ones with their jaws closest to the floor."

While stereoscopic 3D isn't right for Codemasters' current crop of racing games, 3D-lovers fear not - it is a technology that interests the developers behind them.

"It's something we're conscious of," Coleman said. "It's something we're definitely going to look into, because if we can make it so that [tunnelled effect] isn't a problem, we'd love to have it in our games. But for Dirt 3 we haven't focused on it."