Kylie Prymus is the first columnist for PS Fanboy. A Ph.D candidate in philosophy, Kylie specializes in the sociology of technology. Through this new weekly column, Kylie will explore the impact of PlayStation on thought and culture.
Any gamer who has spent a significant amount of uninterrupted time staring through a 2D screen into a 3D game world understands the strange perceptual shift that takes place when returning to the truly 3-dimensional space of the real world. There is a disorienting effect, a sense of unreality, in coming back to a place where perspective changes are achieved not by the subtle movements of an analog stick, but by actually shifting the head which houses your ocular apparatus. I first experienced this 10 years ago after a marathon session of The Ocarina of Time, giving my not-yet-21 self a taste of the post-college-party vertigo to come. A similar effect can be achieved by long stretches of reading, focusing on a purely 2D plane for hours and then trying to adjust to the vividness of reality.
Games also have a deeper effect on our perception of the world, one which far too much press has declared detrimental to gamers and society at large. Our actions in the game world can and do affect our real-world thoughts. Who can claim not to have had at least a small desire to put the pedal to the floor after playing Gran Turismo, especially when one of the licensed songs comes on the radio? How often do you think about the alternate routes through the grocery store a Portal gun would make possible? Beyond being whimsical fantasies divulged only in conversation with individuals at or above yourself on the gamer-nerd scale, some games can actually change the way you think in a positive direction. The intellect enhancing possibility of games has been exploited most successfully by Nintendo with their DS selling Brain Age series (despite a recent Wired article claiming it has no such benefit). Echochrome may well be Sony's answer to the Dendrite Stimulation genre. There's just one problem: what exactly does it make you smarter at?