For many, Wii U’s Miiverse features seem like yet another annoying attempt to shove social features where they don’t belong — a distraction from what should be important and what developers should focus on, gameplay.
Why do video games need a Twitter-style feed for posting messages? Why does it need to be injected into games, letting others invade your game with their comments? Why does Wii U need to follow this trend of making everything social? Why do we need Miiverse?
Because we don’t enjoy media in a vacuum anymore, and soon, we won’t enjoy games that way either.
As we’ve become more connected, the way we consume media has shifted, turning solitary experiences into online conversations. I can’t watch an episode of Game of Thrones anymore without loading A.V. Club’s review and reader comments soon afterward.
Nor can I enjoy a Knicks game without having NeoGAF’s NBA forum thread open. And I always love the flood of new GIFs that pop up on Tumblr after a new Legend of Korra airs. We’ve established, too, that it’s impossible for me to enjoy a song without celebrating it on Twitter.
Wii U’s Miiverse brings our evolving communal media consumption to video games, bakes it into the system and game worlds, so someone’s around to hear you after every bite when you say, “God damn, that is delicious.”
As with the online conversations that happen with other media, you can extend your enjoyment of a game by seeing how others are enjoying it the same way you are, or by discovering something you missed.
And so I believe Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata promise during today’s Nintendo Direct presentation: “The purpose of Miiverse is not only to add information but a new degree of empathy between players.”
“Not only does Wii U offer players a way to connect across great distances, but they can enjoy a sense of connection even when they are not playing at the same time.”
There’s plenty of other Miiverse benefits I’m excited about too: Facetime-style video chat, a possibly non-slow/sucky web browser, being able to organize online matches, built-in screenshot capturing and uploading (check out the screenshot above, which even reveals an option for marking spoilers), and more.
While we’re a Nintendo-focused site, Wii U up until now did not strike me as a terribly interesting console, especially with few compelling games announced for it yet. For a while, this was our only post about the system.
But I’m impressed by Miiverse’s potential, and that Nintendo — notorious for playing catch-up with its online support — was able to anticipate where games are headed.
See also: More of Tiny Cartridge's E3 coverage [Via Penguin, Why Would You Do That?]