Wii U – The Social System

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.


Covering Everything

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?

Play Nice

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.

Getting Closer

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.

Snoox, Google+ and How Social We Really Are

What is Snoox?

Today I read about Snoox; a new social network which allows you to view recommendations from your friends on things like films, books or places. It is very similar to a network like Letterboxd which does the same, but specifically for films. Snoox goes further than Letterboxd with what you can recommend,  but isn’t quite as focused on being a timeline or personal history.

Snoox allows you to follow others, whether you know them personally or not (nothing new there). Twitter took the Facebook status and amplified it into its own model. Similarly, Snoox adopts the ego-maniacal activity of  “liking” a film or TV show on Facebook to show that you’ve watched it and/or are cultured and/or hip. If it can remove the necessity for all those Netflix updates on Facebook courtesy of friends, providing a specific place to go to find out what people are listening to/watching etc., then all the better.

Would You Trust Your Friends?

Snoox and its facility to recommend provides the opportunity to users to write a mini-review in the same vein that Google+ Local invites users to rate local businesses. This got me thinking about how much I would trust my friends’ opinions. As someone who has a very diverse set of online friends in terms of socio-economic status, location and tastes, this would probably not help me find something I like. Taste isn’t based on these factors exclusively of course;  a good film is a good film, and transcends barriers. However, I definitely have those friends who I would consider as having “bad taste”. I like most of my friends for the people they are, and not what they watch. There are a handful of exceptions; those friends of friends who I can put up with because we have a TV show in common to save the conversation. Generally, though, I wouldn’t take the advice of a majority of my Facebook or Twitter friends about where to go to eat or which books to read, because there is a big gulf between what we respectively enjoy.

Google+ and The Question: ‘How Social Are We?’

Google and their outlook of ‘Search n’ Social’ seems to have this belief that we’re all a trendy bunch, with money to burn at the whim of seeing a friend post a five star rating for a bar; that we’ll jump straight online at a moment’s notice to find a restaurant at which to spend all this free time that we have falling out of our ears. This was parodied brilliantly when Google Glass was previewed earlier this year. That’s just not the reality for many of us, who are struggling to save money, like to stay indoors or just don’t live very interesting lives.

The social aspect of search seems more applicable to a wider segment of users (provided they are logged into a Google account) when it comes to essential services, like looking for a respectable plumber, than leisure. Indeed, this is one of the ways that we can help with managing social media for your business. ‘Social’ feels the wrong word for these services.  Those who do leave constructive business reviews, are very much appreciated and this can make a difference; but in terms of empowering users to shape Search, its utility is somewhat limited.



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