Nintendo billed Miiverse as their way of connecting the “social” element of gaming – even single-player gaming – to the Internet via online interactions. This means sharing secrets and tips, victories and defeats, opinions about games, and so on – all stuff that people do with their gaming friends and online communities already, but now available right from the game console, and even directly from the games. And, having sat down to experience Miiverse integration in the final product, I can safely say that it does exactly what Nintendo said it was going to do.
Hop inside for my impressions of Nintendo’s social gaming network.
It’s important to note, before making any judgments about its capabilities, what Miiverse is not. It is not a fully-functional gaming forum… it’s more like a Twitter feed where players can share their thoughts, experiences, and creativity with one another. This means little messages of 100 characters or less, or small hand-drawn notes, which consequently means that you won’t be able to toss argumentative text walls back and forth for hours on end.
Despite the limitations, it’s surprising to see how many people are actually using Miiverse the way Nintendo intended. I’ve seen all kinds of people lamenting their struggles in Donkey Kong Crash Course’s ninth area, or asking about how to reach difficult Star Coins in New Super Mario Bros. U, or leaving cute, silly, or occasionally creepy sketches in the various communities. I’ve seen people asking about games they haven’t played, getting feedback on their questions, and sharing “empathy” in the form of Like-based “Yeah!” tags they can add to posts they enjoy or agree with. You can also tack on a screenshot of what your game looked like when you hit the Home button to share a cool moment or detail.
Given that so much of Miiverse’s execution lay with the players actually cooperating in Nintendo’s social network project, its level of success is really encouraging. We’ll see how many people actually continue to use Miiverse in the coming weeks and months. Will it drop off the face of relevance? So far, it seems that most communities are relatively stable, and I think that’s a good sign.
Navigating Miiverse takes some getting used to at first, but once you learn the ins and outs it’s fairly simple to access whatever you’re looking for. You can track your posts, posts you’ve commented on, and your friends’ and followed users’ posts in your dedicated Activity Feed, meaning that you don’t have to sift through entire communities to see comments to your messages or notes from people you’re connected with. You can also send friend requests (I recommend this method over the “Friend List” option), “favorite” certain communities so they pop up first on your feed, or shoot private messages to your friends to solicit for online games, set up Wii U Chat appointments, and so on.
A lot of people feared that Nintendo would over-moderate in the name of family-friendliness, but so far that doesn’t seem to be the case. Posts will appear within seconds of submission, and only when banned speech (curse words, violent/hate speech, etc.) appears or users flag comments will they be taken down.
Fans of Picto Chat or Swapnote will probably enjoy Miiverse the most, as it basically combines the instantaneous interactions of the former with the online infrastructure of the latter, making it the most robust of Nintendo’s message-sending applications yet by a significant long shot.
So far I’ve only used Miiverse in moderate doses. I don’t lurk in the communities, nor do I post messages each time games prompt me to do so. For me, Miiverse is best used to share my great achievements and post my thoughts when I get stuck and frustrated with some of the tougher Nintendo Land challenges – and it does a terrific job at offering a convenient place to do that. I’m looking forward to seeing how the community develops as it continues to grow and as people continue to find creative ways to use it. In the meantime, however, I think Nintendo’s got a really good idea on their hands.