All of this Nintendo-social-network stuff came upon me by accident. I was chatting with Iwata at Nintendo’s San Francisco-area offices about Nintendo’s new 3DS XL and their latest Mario game. We were running out of time and I remembered an intriguing comment Iwata had made in a pre-recorded video address before the E3 show in June about how the company was going to start an online service called Miiverse for this fall’s new Wii U console and how this new service would, among other things, increase gamers’ sense of “empathy” for each other.
Online gaming can be a hostile place. If gamers could be more empathetic, that would be great. Since E3, I had assumed that is what he was getting at. I remembered this as we chatted and as I looked at the 3DS XL I’d placed between me and Iwata. I thought about one of my favorite features of the 3DS, how a small green indicator lights up when my system is near someone else’s 3DS system as the two machines wirelessly and automatically trade greetings between me and the other machine’s owner and how those little “Street Pass” connections turn out to be delightful discoveries when I remove my 3DS from my bag and see the green light glowing. It makes me feel good about other gamers; maybe even empathetic. So I mistakenly asked Iwata if he was hoping that Nintendo could reduce the hostility in online gaming. I thought that’s what that was all about: a positive twist by Nintendo applied to some commonly unpleasant systems of online play.
I was way off [...]