The immersive experience of videogames is getting set to move into the physical dimension with news that Sony has just cleared a patent for a 3D printer. According to documents seen by 3DPI the technique will enable players to print out character models from their favourite games. It taps into the popularity of such events as Dishonoured 2’s recent IRL scavenger hunt that saw fans hunting for 3D printed bone runes across London, adding another layer to the immersive and addictive quality of video games.

Spot the Dishonored 2 3D printed Bone Rune lurking in the undergrowth.

Sony’s 3D printing will add another layer to the screenshot feature already in use in the PlayStation 4. From a screenshot, gamers will be able to select a particular portion for 3D printing, i.e. an epic action shot on ascent into Arkham as Batman, or a finishing move from Mortal Kombat.

Imagine this as a 3D model. Mortal Kombat X screenshot Kano vs Sub Zero via: mksecrets-net

Imagine this as a 3D model. Mortal Kombat X screenshot Kano vs Sub Zero via: mksecrets-net

The patent uses a Rayman-like ‘Blobman’ character as a stand in for 3D printed character models. It details how the software will take into account unrealistic gaming situations in which ‘characters that are not bound by the normal rules of physics’, as in Rayman’s floating hands and feet that aren’t attached to the body, which would be attached to the model by rods, and 2-dimensional game environments purely for decorative purposes which are essentially surplus to a model. It also considers the safety implications of sharp objects.

Image of 'Blobman' in a basic game environment from Sony's 3D printing patent. Image via: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Image of ‘Blobman’ in a basic game environment from Sony’s 3D printing patent. Image via: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Rahman from Rayman 2 for reference Image via: Ubisoft

Rayman from Rayman 2 for reference Image via: Ubisoft

Forget figurines, we want mods

Gaming is already enriched by an wealth of fan art, merchandise and collectibles, and though 3D printing is likely to storm the industry, what 3DPI are really looking forward to is its potential to 3D print modifications for your console that enhance the gaming experience, or fix things that would otherwise cost you a whole new PS4.

If your fan breaks? Print and fit a new one. Sony release a game that’s more trigger happy? Add attachments to L2 & R2. Looking to impress your mates? Soup up the shell with a Dishonoured design.

Earlier this week 3DPI looked at how companies like Thermaltake and Asus are attempting to crack the PC modding market with 3D printing. Thermaltake’s maker culture has already taken off with a dedicated website of .stl models of fan grills and Core P5/P3 parts, and an impressive album of modder makes.

A Thermaltake Core P5 case by Adam Braithwaite, UK Photo via: Thermaltake Modder Album

A Thermaltake Core P5 case by Adam Braithwaite, UK Photo via: Thermaltake Modder Album

However, most of the PC building innovation is coming from modders themselves rather than the industry. It will be interesting to see whether Sony tap into the growing maker culture and wave of open source design when the 3D printing for consoles technology is finally released.

Featured image: Minecraft characters are ideal 3D printing fodder. Photo via: 3dwithus Youtube

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