The Miiverse – A Shockingly Charming Exercise in Civil Discourse

When I first reviewed the Wii U, I dismissed its social network, the Miiverse, as something that was better suited for children and not something that I’d ever find myself using. It is a twitter-style system where gamers were able to post things about their favourite games using one-hundred characters or less (Since expanded to two-hundred), and this, along with heavy moderation meant that no real interesting discourse could be had. Instead, you were stuck with people praising the game, or saying something inane,  a real waste of time for anyone actually interested in gaming. That was my first impression. However, I’ve been toying around with it as I played some of the Virtual Console offerings that are now up on the fledgling system, and I have to say that I was wrong. Not to say that the Miiverse is the place for lengthy political discussion, but its style of polite community interaction is exactly what the gaming industry has been lacking and it’s strangely addicting.

If this makes you roll your eyes, that’s because you’ve spent too much time wallowing in the shit that is the internet.

Part of what makes the Miiverse so good is that it can be activated at any point, whether you’re in the middle of playing games or on the homescreen. Better still, it pauses your game instead of ending it. Nintendo uses this system in order for you to be able to post screenshots of exactly where you were in the game. It’s a great system and it is not hard to openly see that Sony and Microsoft’s much vaunted social features such as Sony’s share button, have their roots in Nintendo’s Miiverse. It’s a shame that it’s so easy to ignore without a lot of use, because the Miiverse is engaging and it’s great evidence that the social features that will be launching with the One and PS4 will captivate a large audience.

Imagine the fun of being able to screencap anything in a game with zero difficulty or learning curve.

I have accounts on many different gaming forums and professional gaming news sites, and regularly post and create topics of interest. My primary site, as it is for many, is GameFAQs and their easy to use forums which hold far more permanence than many of their competitors. However, whether you go to GameFAQs or Reddit or anywhere else, one thing is for sure: you’re going to be awash in a sea of negativity. Listen, I’m a pretty cynical guy, but sometimes, I just can’t deal with the trolls and massive amount of misinformation out there. It’s constant, and there is often no point to trying to engage most people. They have their agenda and won’t budge from it whether it’s to prove that The Last of Us is the worst game ever made, or that Nintendo deserves to die. Even the most polite boards or topics will be full of people simply trying to yell at the top of their lungs and others trying to provoke fans because they get some perverse feeling of pleasure by making people angry. I love the message boards, but they are exhausting, awful places sometimes.

I couldn’t have explained it better.

That is the beauty of the Miiverse. There isn’t really any trolling. There isn’t any constant attacks, and the negativity (And there is still negativity) I’ve seen has been fairly polite. It seems like it’s a completely different group of people posting there than on internet forums. When I’m on the Mega Man X community and someone posts “What is your favourite Maverick,” people post their favourite and explain why. They may say that they don’t like one or another, but nobody starts attacking someone else for their choice. This tiniest of politeness is jarring and that really makes me sad sometimes. How bad has it gotten where not insulting people for no reason comes off as strange?

And this won’t turn into a pro/anti-American conversation. It’s a miracle!

Of course Miiverse isn’t always a good substitute for the forums. Even with the new two-hundred character limit, there’s no way you could get into any deep discussion without multiple cumbersome posts at once. That being said, there are things the Miiverse does much better than traditional forums, chiefly of all comes from people asking for help. It’s simple, but the ability to post screenshots changes everything. I can look through a series of Super Metroid screenshots and tell stuck gamers exactly where they need to go or what they need to do without any cumbersome explaining or trouble. It’s also very quick, with most help posts getting responses within the first couple of minutes and there is a noticeable lack of people derailing the help post by calling someone a “newb” or telling them to google it.

Even on the Miiverse, there will always be people poking fun at the skill-impaired. It’s not a utopia; there’s just a lot less of this and it’s far less malicious.

Then there is the fandom stuff. We all play video games (If you don’t, I question your sanity for reading this blog), and we’re all fans in some way. Whether you love everything about Chrono Trigger or Call of Duty, it doesn’t matter. We’re all fans. It can be difficult to let your fan flag fly on cynical internet forums where nobody wants to hear you gush on how much you enjoy a game or how great you find the world. I was in a topic recently about how amazing the TC found the Final Fantasy XII summons. Most of the following posts were deriding him for liking something so useless in-game, or explaining how Final Fantasy XII is an awful game and he should be ashamed of liking it. This kind of thing doesn’t seem to happen in the Miiverse or at least not very often. Every game has its own community page and people seem far more free to let their fan-leanings be known. This is complete with a constant barrage of fan drawings (Some of which was beautiful), and positive posts about how much people like certain aspects. There are exceptions even on the Miiverse, such as the recently released Vegas Stakes, which has been getting some heat due to people wanting a different Virtual Console title, but these negative posts are not the norm. It may seem bubbly and naïve and in someways that’s true, but it’s refreshing. Gamers shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed of what they like no matter how silly or stupid it may seem to other gamers.

In some communities you’d be laughed at for wasting so much time on video game art for a single forum post. Here, there is usual only the sound of Yeah!

The Miiverse is strange. I fully expected to never use it, but I was wrong. I like spending a couple of minutes a day going through the Super Metroid community or Mega Man X community and trying to help as many people as I can, or to participate in some of the positive fandom. It isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. The internet forums still exist and continue to serve their very useful role. However, the Miiverse offers something noticeably different, and its positivity and simplistic design are refreshing. Like Nintendo itself, the Miiverse seemingly doesn’t care about competing with traditional forums, instead, it serves as a companion piece, one that I’m surprised to say I enjoy quite a bit.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


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