Wii’s Online Future: Miispace?

Nintendo is a company that has perennially brought creative ideas to the table in the video game world. The Wii continues this trend of innovation, most notably with its novel input system. Aside from the controller, however, Nintendo is introducing a unique online component, as well as their “channel” system, which in conjunction have the potential to usher in a fusion of social networking and gaming.

Wii Connect 24 is a new concept that forms the backbone of Nintendo’s first foray into online gaming territory. Made possible by hardware that doesn’t require the gaming equivalent of a nuclear reactor in order to run, it is designed to create an always-on, always-connected gaming community. The Mii Channel is a part of the Wii OS in which players create a custom avatar, as well as define some brief profile information. These digital counterparts can then be inserted into Mii-compatible games or interact with other Miis on other Wii Systems via Connect 24. I believe there is potential for social networking within the Wii/Mii Universe.

It is this notion of person-to-person online interaction that is the foundation for more advanced social networking opportunities. Social networks such as Myspace, Facebook, and Second Life have quickly become mega-hits, penetrating a considerable number of people’s lives. So why can’t the craze spill over into the home console arena?

Miispace is my idea for a new social networking Wii Channel. Here, the gamer would theoretically be able to take any previously saved Mii and place it in a sort of home base. This area would be analogous to the likes of a Sims house or Second Life property (provided you’re not, like many SL users, a homeless vagabond). The Miispace would be a 3D virtual residence for the selected Mii character, and using the online service, other gamers’ Miis would be able to come visit and explore.

A site such as Myspace provides a written profile, images, and audio for each user, in order to convey a sense of that person’s personality and identity. Miispace could take the premise a step further. By involving a representation of a house in 3D physical space, Miispace would serve as a rudimentary emulation of a gamer’s real-world lifestyle. It would be populated, along with a Mii, by game furniture and items, as well as a variety of user-introduced content. Jpeg images might show up as paintings within the Miispace, and mp3s could provide background music inside the Mii’s house.

Finally, items within each Miispace could be used to inject additional features into the channel. For example, one particular house might include a diary lying on a hallway table. When a visitor interacts with the book, it expands into a standard weblog–Blogger or LiveJournal, for example. Other features might include a “little black book,” providing a ‘friends list,’ or a computer to act as a written message center. Clearly, the options are numerous.

There you have it–social networking on the Wii is a distinct possibility, especially considering the Wii is capable of remaining on at all times. Miispace could exist either as a new channel available after a firmware update, or if necessary, a piece of separate software, and would be appealing to gamer and non-gamer alike. Nintendo’s goal with the Wii is to convert non-gamers, so why not do it with Miispace, a place for Mii.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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