Today, we let Lewis loose on the blog, to have a geekout about the latest development in Gaming from Nintendo, the Wii U; a platform close to his heart, which has implications on what we love: Social. Enjoy!
Next week, Japanese entertainment giant Nintendo will unleash the Wii U, their latest home console system, onto the UK market. While the key appeal of this new bit of hardware is the Gamepad (a tablet-esque controller) and the significant boost in power, what we’re interested in today is the Wii U’s own dedicated social network, dubbed ‘Miiverse’. This network is an integral part of the machine (not just an additional application) which will not only enhance gaming experiences; but it may also bring some interesting new ideas to the ever-growing landscape of social media.
Miiverse operates as some sort of bizarre crossbreed of several different social networks. Users can use either the Wii U or their phone to share advice, personal experiences, or simply their general thoughts, in the form of short comments that resemble tweets. The more creative can even draw fun little sketches and messages with the Gamepad’s stylus; and video chat can be initiated by simply clicking on an icon next to a username, making what would have been a standard reply a lot more personal. However, Miiverse activity does not only come though one feed in the vein of Twitter or Facebook, it instead uses community pages (similar to Google+’s circles) that are based around a game, TV show or film, with posts appearing in a social stream alongside information on the subject of the community.
On top of all this, screenshots can be posted from whatever a Wii U owner is playing or watching without having to pause, which is far more useful for those who wish to share information or ask questions, as a separate device is not needed – everything is tied together and works instantaneously. This is most evident with Nintendo’s new TVii application, which fully incorporates the Miiverse network as a constant presence while you watch your favourite TV programmes and films. Could this mix of expanded functionality influence the features of future social networks? Can Miiverse become the go-to communication system for video game, TV and film buffs? Will it be as good for spreading the word about your favourite things to watch in comparison to sites like Snoox, which we looked at recently?
Nintendo, unlike their rivals who focus almost purely on a competitive atmosphere, want to bring people together by encouraging ’empathy’ for one another. When you die and get a game over, or if you do exceptionally well on a particular level, the Wii U may ask you how you feel about the situation, and messages will pop up onto your screen from other gamers who had similar experiences, making you feel better about your failures, and validating your success. This results in a much greater feeling of true community spirit than what we have had with consoles up until this point, as it is more focused on emotional experiences than pure competition.
It is common practice now for multiple people in one room to be viewing different screens. TVs, phones, tablets, PCs… one room can be filled with a whole family who are not sharing experiences. With the Wii U, the TV and the smaller handheld screen are constantly linked. This would for example, allow a teenager share a funny YouTube clip with their family during the adverts in the middle of I’m a Celebrity!, simply by flicking it up onto the screen from their Gamepad; thus turning what would have been a closed-off experience into an open one – a more direct and traditional social experience. These kind of hardware features, combined with the robust Miiverse, could be a sign of things to come.
Nintendo’s network may inspire some of the more prominent social media giants to really think about the way that they connect the experiences of their users, to create much closer communities that are truly social in a more conventional sense. Let’s hope that large social networking companies never become complacent, and continue to challenge our perceptions on how people can interact and exchange information in the internet age. If you’re curious about how to best engage with potential customers in your community, we can offer you advice on how to manage your social media accounts.