Before purchasing my Wii U I was intrigued by Miiverse, which appeared to be Nintendo’s answer to social media for gamers. I questioned whether this concept could actually work in a world where we are inclined to turn to the internet for answers.
At a glance, Miiverse can be best described as an alternative to social media platforms and discussion boards, allowing you to post short, typed or written messages within communities dedicated to various games available on Wii U.
Posts can be marked as a spoiler in respect of other gamers, and you can interact with other users by offering a “Yeah!” to show you appreciated what they said. I quickly noticed how creative the users of Miiverse were after seeing some amazing drawings made with just limited features. I found myself spending hours just browsing and commenting on those drawings alone.
I also saw how kind the community was. You could argue that this is down to moderation by Nintendo, removing those negative contributions, and while I think this might be true for a small number of people, I feel that users of the service are kind, helpful and a fun bunch of people. It makes a nice change from the negativity and trolling seen online. As I started to use Miiverse more, I realised that it offered a much deeper experience than I could have imagined.
Integration of Miiverse in games
Miiverse is clearly present in NintendoLand; Mii’s appeared in my theme park, along with their thoughts and how they felt about the many different attractions. If I saw a comment that I could relate to or enjoyed seeing, I could click on the Mii and go straight to the discussion board on Miiverse to contribute my thoughts.
In New Super Mario Bros U, balloons with comments float over some levels on the over world map. These ranged from helpful tips, to warnings for what I could expect from that stage. There was a point where I died right on the verge of defeating one of the Koopa kids in the earlier worlds, and was surprised to see that messages appeared on screen with drawings and comments from other users that died at that exact same point.
What would normally be a rather frustrating and annoying situation, turned into a humorous one. It was great to know that I was not the only person who struggled at those points, and gave me the urge to give it another go.
With the knowledge that there was a good chance my opinions would be read by other gamers, these experiences encouraged me to engage with the community. By adding a screenshot to the message I was writing, I could share and express exactly where I was coming from. Miiverse expanded these single player experiences to include my friends and the wider Miiverse community, something that I feel could change the whole concept of a single player game.
Although Miiverse is relatively new, Nintendo have confirmed that the service will be coming to smart phones and 3DS, reaching more users outside of the Wii U. An update allowing users to create their own communities and to browse through posts more easily through the implementation of new search filters is also on its way. While Nintendo has already started to push this new IP into exciting new territory, I feel that more can still be achieved to make this the killer app it deserves to be.
I would love to see Nintendo give us the ability to add YouTube videos to our posts within the YouTube community. People are already used to sharing videos online with their friends via social networks, and video can encourage some good discussion. It would also make sense to share videos in a community that is based on sharing and talking about video.
Currently, only authenticated developers have access to this feature, and I feel that giving users over the age of 18 the ability to add videos to their messages, would enrich the appeal of Miiverse even further. The app could also benefit from more updates to improve load times and performance.
As I mentioned previously, there is a very artistic and imaginative part of the community working within the limitations of Miiverse. Perhaps, with the addition of coloured ink we could really see those creations come to life?
If Nintendo included an option for users to save their drawings as drafts, this could encourage the creation of more in-depth works requiring more than one sitting to complete. There is also the added benefit of keeping these artists from running the risk of losing their drawings if the Game Pad accidentally runs out of battery.
Miiverse is the heart and soul of Wii U, you are always connected to this growing community of creative, funny and polite gamers who are there to support, humour, and inform you as you play your games. While it cannot replace Twitter or Facebook, it offers a nice alternative for Nintendo gamers.
Miiverse is social networking re-imagined, something that I feel more platforms should adopt.