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How the Nintendo 3DS Works

Health Concerns and Other Problems

The operations manual for the Nintendo 3DS contains a section on potential health hazards users might encounter while playing the Nintendo 3DS. One of those is seizures. According to the manual, about one in 4,000 people may suffer seizures as a result of looking at flashes of light. This sensitivity tends to decrease if the viewer is farther away from the source of light but with a handheld device that's not really an option. Still, it's rare.

Nintendo also warns users of the potential for eyestrain. The manual suggests that players take a 10-to 15-minute break for every hour of play. If you're using the 3-D feature on the 3DS, that frequency doubles to a break every half hour. It also warns that if the player begins to feel dizzy or nauseated, he or she should stop playing for several hours. The company stresses that such symptoms are rare.

There are other potential health problems as well. If you're a gaming junkie, you may be tempted to play all day long. That can lead to injuries as you repeat the same motions throughout the day. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of what can happen if you play for long stretches of time frequently.

Nintendo also cautions players who wish to change the 3DS battery. If your battery's life isn't what it used to be, you can swap it out for a new one. But you should be careful with old batteries -- if they're damaged they may leak battery acid.

Finally, the company warns that since the device is capable of broadcasting over WiFi, it should not be used near people who have pacemakers. The concern is that the WiFi will create radio-frequency (RF) interference that could cause the pacemaker to malfunction.

Early reviews of the 3DS unveiled concerns unrelated to health. Despite an early demo of a game that used 3-D as an integral part of gameplay, the company now supports a different approach to game development. People with vision problems in one eye may not perceive 3-D images at all. Nintendo doesn't want to leave these people out of the fun and so the company stresses that games should be playable in either 2-D or 3-D mode. But that means the 3-D feature becomes more of a gimmick than an integrated feature necessary for gameplay.

And not all 3DS games will be in 3-D. Several 3DS titles, including an entry in the popular Street Fighter franchise, don't support 3-D at all. While the 3DS has other new features besides the 3-D capability, it may not pack enough punch for gamers to decide to upgrade to the new system.

Will the 3DS pave the way to a new era of handheld gaming or is it destined to join Nintendo misfires like the Virtual Boy or Power Glove? Time will tell.

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