by Chris Morris

Today’s 3D technology can make games a lot more immersive, but it could be making players angrier, too.

A study from Ohio State University examined the anger levels of players after they had played games on either 2D or 3D screens. Researchers concluded that adding one measly dimension can stir up some seriously negative emotions.

“3-D gaming increases anger because the players felt more immersed in the violence when they played violent games,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State. “As the technology in video games improves, it has the ability to have stronger effects on players.”

It’s worth noting that the study’s definition of 3D isn’t necessarily the same one many gamers think of. Researchers looked not at game engines that rendered a virtual recreation of three dimensions, but simply the effects of playing on a 3D screen.

A group of 194 college students played Grand Theft Auto IV on a 17-inch 2D screen, a 96-inch 2D screen, or a 96-inch 3D screen (while wearing dorky 3D glasses). Half were told to pay the game violently, while the other half were told to play a nonviolent bowling mini-game. After each session, they were asked to rate their feelings using a number of adjectives on a 1-to-5 scale.

The players who were instructed to play the game nonviolently were pretty relaxed no matter what screen they were playing on. But those who were allowed to immerse themselves in the game’s mayhem saw significant anger spikes after playing on a 3D screen.

The study is less a condemnation of 3D TV than it is of violent games in general. Bushman himself sounds the alarm.

“The combination of violent content and immersive technology like 3-D can be troublesome. This is something that needs to be considered by everyone involved — electronics manufacturers, video game developers, consumers, parents, and content ratings agencies,” he says.

What the study ignores, though, is that 3D TV has largely flopped, and gamers have never embraced the technology. Sony tried to push it by making an affordable 3D monitor specifically for the PlayStation. No one bought it. Even Nintendo, the standard-bearer for 3D with its 3DS portable system, has downplayed its 3D capabilities.

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