Welcome to the debut edition of Outrageous and Unconfirmed, a weekly roundup of ridiculousness and rumors from the video-game scene. Every Friday, I'll run through the week's game stories and let you know what's real and what's not.
So, without further ado:
Will 3DS make you sick?
You gotta love British journalism. Who needs facts when insinuations will do? Who needs numbers when you have anecdotes? Whereas America's mainstream media at least makes an attempt at impartiality and sober analysis, the Brits are unapologetically partisan and sensational, and as a result they're a lot more fun to read.
Unfortunately, the tradeoff is that you don't always get good information. This week, The Sun published an article called "3DS Refund Row Hits Nintendo: FURIOUS gamers made ill by Nintendo's new 3DS console have been REFUSED full refunds." (The all-caps is my favorite touch; it reads like an e-mail forward from a crazy relative.) The story quoted a few people claiming that the 3DS made them sick, and that their local game store refused to refund their money.
For a follow-up story, "Nintendo 3DS is game for a barf," the Sun had a doctor evaluate a man as he played the game for two hours. The physician found that playing 3DS increased the guy's heart rate and blood pressure, and made his eyes a little jittery around the one-hour mark. The problems? There was no control group, so there's no telling whether the 3D effect in particular caused the symptoms. A regular DS or PSP might have created the same results, for all this tells us. Also, the subject's heart rate and blood pressure didn't go up significantly until he played 3DS while walking, so it's unclear whether the physical activity or the game caused the jump. Oddly, though, his rates continued to increase slightly when he played in a moving car.
In the end, the Sun produced nothing more than a few stray anecdotes and a ridiculous non-experiment, and when you look at all the numbers, it turns out that there's no story there. Nintendo has said that it has received a lower-than-usual number of customer-support calls for a hardware launch, and game retailers have said they're experiencing few returns. As of this writing, the 3DS has 192 customer reviews on Amazon.com; the average is four stars, and even most of the fourteen one-star reviews don't mention headaches or sickness.
To be fair, there are some small grains of truth here. If you don't adjust the 3D slider correctly, the 3DS can make you feel cross-eyed. It is a little ridiculous that Nintendo's reaction to the complaints it did receive was to tell people to shut off the machine (or at least the 3D functionality) after thirty minutes. Some people are unusually sensitive to 3D effects, and stores should give those people their money back.
But by and large, people are enjoying the 3DS.
How the Grinch stole PSN
Okay, I get the whole Fight Club thing. Corporations suck! Damn the man! Return humanity to its primitive state! Embrace the beast within!
But seriously, leave my gaming networks alone, or I will bash you over the head with a stone and then carve pictures of your bloody corpse into the walls of my cave.
It appears that the hacker collective Anonymous—that is, a group of people who have nothing better to do with their time than make other people miserable—is attacking PSN, causing connectivity problems in the U.S. and EU. Their beef? The PS3's firmware doesn't allow users to hack the machine, because otherwise users could pirate games. The nerve!