Editor’s note: Veteran video game journalist John Gaudiosi is covering the for Local Tech Wire this week in Los Angeles.

By JOHN GAUDIOSI, special to LTW

LOS ANGELES – Gamers will have two very different options when it comes to jumping into the next dimension of gaming.

Nintendo’s new portable, , will introduce hands-free gaming to the mass market when it ships. Although Nintendo did not confirm a date or price, the portable is expected to debut later this year.

Sony is offering an immediate 3D experience for the 35 million people who own a A free firmware upgrade allows gamers to download software that will automatically allow the console to play 3D games and new Blu-ray 3D movies.

These two options will offer very different experiences at very different price points.

Nintendo 3DS uses new autostereoscopic 3D technology, which in a nutshell takes the two polarized lenses you normally would wear with 3D glasses and places them on top of the screen.

The games literally jump out of the screen without needing any additional technology. Since this technology is currently being used in cell phones available in Japan, it should allow Nintendo to keep the cost of its hardware reasonably priced.

One huge advantage that Nintendo unveiled is that the Nintendo 3DS will also act as a 3D camera. The two cameras built in to the device will allow gamers to take and share 3D digital pictures with friends.

“Nintendo produced the first 3D videogame 15 years ago and since then we’ve searched for a way to make 3D games a reality in a product designed for mass market. Nintendo 3DS is our answer,” said Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo. “The device has a 3D depth slider on side so you can turn 3D on or off, and also adjust the 3d image. In addition to playing games, you can take 3D photos, and play 3D Hollywood movies on it.”

At Nintendo’s E3 booth, there were trailers for Hollywood films from Walt Disney, Warner Bros. Pictures and Dreamworks Animation Pictures showing on the portable like How to Train Your Dragon, Legend of the Guardians and Tangled.

In addition, there are plenty of 3D games from Nintendo like Kid Icarus: Uprising, Mario Kart, PilotWings Resort, StarFox 64 and Paper Mario. Third-party game makers are bringing titles like DJ Hero 3D, The Sims 3, Dead or Alive, Resident Evil: Revelations and Ridge Racer to the third dimension.

“At CES we started to hear a lot about 3D in the living room, but the investment there is in the thousands and there’s nothing yet to watch and play in 3D,” said Iwatu. “But maybe most of all it’s the glasses that’s the problem. Buying glasses for everyone in the living room is not going to be cheap. We think there’s a better way and our solution takes 3D with you wherever you go and offers ample 3D content on the first day at market.”

Sony champions 3D upgrade, numerous games

Sony showcased Killzone 3D at its press conference as well as its E3 booth. Guerilla Games’ sequel was designed from the ground up to take advantage of PS3’s new 3D upgrade. The live demo on the huge press conference movie screen offered an intense experience that separated this title from anything else on the market. Killzone 3 will also combine PlayStation Move with 3D for a more intense interactive experience. Games like MLB 10: The Show, The Fight, and the augmented reality experience EyePet will also combine PlayStation Move motion-sensor controls with 3D.

Sony also announced that Twisted Metal for PS3 will feature 3D, as well as Mortal Kombat from Warner Brothers, Ubisoft’s Shaun White Skateboarding and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Disney’s Tron Evolution the Video Game, and 2K Sports’ NBA 2K11.

“Games like Killzone 3 will do for 3D games what movies like Avatar did to drive 3D movies,” said Jack Tretton, president and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment. “Some of our biggest titles like the Sly Collection, Mototrstorm Apocalypse, Tumble, and Gran Turismo 5 are all in 3D.”

Sony Computer Entertainment partnered with Sony Electronics to deliver free 3D game demos to anyone who purchased a new 3D Bravia TV. Those TVs were on display at E3 and will be available at retail in July.

Crytek Games’ Crysis 2, which Electronic Arts is publishing, will support 3D on PlayStation 3, PC and Xbox 360, making it the first game to go cross-platform 3D since Ubisoft’s James Cameron’s Avatar last December. NVIDIA was at the show with 3D versions of games like Mafia 2, Crysis 2, and Need for Speed Online.

The Triangle connection

Locally, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 supports 3D gaming, which was showcased in the recent release of Batman: Arkham Asylum.

In addition, Insomniac Games’ local studio, which develops titles for Sony and Electronic Arts, has the capability to deliver future games in 3D. Insomniac was not showing games at E3 this year.

Serious games developer Virtual Heroes, which was at E3 for meetings, is using Unreal Engine 3 to develop 3D experiences for companies to train professionals in multiple fields, including medicine and oil.

Gamers will soon be entering into their game worlds like never before both on the go and at home. And for those at E3, that future was on display in 3D.

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