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Finally – The end of splitscreen gaming?

The "Playstation Monitor" SONY revealed at E3 may just prove to be revolutionary, as it uses 3D technology in a new way to render splitscreen gaming obsolete.

The 24’ “Playstation Monitor” SONY presented at E3 is supposed to provide affordable access to 3D movies and gaming. I personally do not care much for 3D movies. I think they look great, and the threedimensional effect is sometimes breathtaking, but in the end it’s nothing more than a gimmick – a bad movie is not improved by 3D, and a great movie in 2D is still great.

I didn’t have the opportunity to play a 3D game yet; but from reviews I gather that, while the 3D effect may look great in games like Killzone 3, it does not seem to really add a new dimension to the gaming experience, so to speak.

But the Playstation Monitor does one more thing: it enables two players wearing 3D glasses to see two completely different images on the same screen, effectively rendering splitscreen gaming obsolete.

While this is at first glance a revolutionary use of 3D technology, the idea has been around for some time, since 2008 at least, but seems to have been abandoned in the meantime, only to be picked up again recently. I found two older articles describing similar concepts:

CES 2008: Texas Instruments DualView TV used for 3D, multiplayer

CES 2008: DLP shows off DualView TV

It’s obvious, really: a 3D monitor shows two slightly shifted views in rapid succession anyway, so why not use it to show two completely different views? Of course, this can also be used watching television; two people may watch different channels on the same screen, provided they wear headphones to get separate sound channels too. This may not contribute to family communication, but it is certainly better than watching TV in different rooms or having discussions about the choice of TV channel – if you live in a one-TV-household like myself. SONY filed a patent last year for just such a use of 3D monitors:

Sony Patents Turn 3D TV into 2-Shows-At-Once…Maybe you just want video goggles?

So, if any 3D-monitor should be capable of showing two game views, why develop a dedicated Playstation Monitor? My guess is that it is a test if this use of 3D will be accepted by the gaming public. If it is, a software update should enable the PS3 to render any splitscreen game to separate screens or phases on the same monitor.

I am really, really excited about this. My wife and I love to play co-op games on PS3, like Borderlands, Army of Two, Resistance and so on. While splitscreen gaming is fine with these games, it is always distracting; they would be so much better if both players could see the whole screen area.

Apart from those I mentioned, there are lots of AAA games out there that allow for offline multiplayer - Lost Planet, Resident Evil 5, Killzone 3 come to mind. All these games would benefit from the new double-screen technology. Online multiplayer could be experienced offline, too - even if just by two people. And I guess there should be lots of gaming couples like us out there by now who would greatly appreciate this.

But after all, I am not a game designer, just a guy who loves games. What is your professional opinion about this? Is splitscreen gaming finally bound to disappear? Or do you believe people will not accept this new 3D technology?



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