Nintendo has always been known to apply a fresh perspective to the status quo. Some ideas have worked, while admittedly others have been a little too innovative for their own good. Nintendo’s latest offering is in the form of smart-device app called Miitomo.
Miitomo is a conversation medium that fits between the bricks and mortar of the conventional network equivalents such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger or Twitter. I guess if I continue to follow that analogy, I would say it aims to be the insulation on top of the bricks and mortar. It doesn’t hold anything together as such, however it does plug a gap that brings everything into greater comfort, warmth and understanding (I sound like Vicki Vale).
Once you have installed the app, the process begins by building your profile and avatar. Those familiar with avatars that started on the Nintendo Wii will be familiar with what they look like. The idea is to make them as close to the real you as possible. The app even has the option to use the smart-device camera, and set a template of the avatar based on your actual face. FYI, I tried it while still dressed as Batman and it did not work. You need to have a clear image. Did I just admit I am Batman……
Once your avatar is set, you begin building your profile by answering questions about yourself and/or activities, such as:
- What is your favorite food?
- What practical jokes were popular when you were little?
- What do you do that makes you feel happy?
This is where Miitomo is different. Rather than conversations being organically driven by events in the real world, the questions in Miitomo are the cause and effect that drive the responses and subsequent conversations with friends.
What the questions do is provide insights and/or information you may otherwise never have known. They can be profound or really trivial, but they are great conversation starters. When answering the first few questions, it is hard to really see the point of it all. Then as friends begin to comment on your answers with “what I did not know that” or “my favorite food is dumplings too”, it all begins to make sense, and you are away and running with Miitomo. In my case, I really didn’t know Diana liked dumplings (definitely going to ask her out for dumplings now).
The answers and conversations can only be seen and held between the friends you have chosen to interact with, so there is no greater audience like on Facebook.
I can see Miitomo being a relationship builder. It would fit easily into something couples could use to know more and more about each other in a fun environment. The more answers you give, the more your friends or partner can interact and it just builds. I guess the trick is whether you answer truthfully or not (does she want a real man or a boy scout?)
I would say that the amount of information being given is my only concern with this app. Yes it is controlled to just your friends, but how safe is that information, and is there a greater objective by Nintendo to gather and use all that personal information? I can see a game arriving at the mansion and Alfred saying “master Bruce, a package from Nintendo has arrived.” I open it up, and I am shocked by the insight Nintendo has on me personally. They have sent me my perfect Nintendo game, ridiculous, how did they know I wanted to beat the crap out of that boy scout Superman (a roundhouse kick to the head with a kryptonite lined boot would be sweet)?
In a world where more time is wasted having conversations with people online rather than putting their smart-devices down and looking someone in the eye, Miitomo has found a place that further binds friendships. It can easily be argued that catching up with friends and just starting a conversation will always be more beneficial. I think the goal of Miitomo is not to replace that fact. The limitations of time and distance have provided a want and need in the modern world to stay connected regardless. I think Miitomo is trying to provide an opportunity to be more direct and open with friends. If it works (and I say if, because this is not for everyone) , it may only encourage peoples willingness to chat even more in the virtual world.
Is it time wasting and in the scheme of things pointless? Totally.
Will everyone see a benefit? I think not. This will have a particular audience.
But does it have a place? With over 10 million users in a month, I would say yes.
Lets hope it really does build stronger relationships, and everyone really do end up getting along. Looking out the window though, Gotham has a very long way to go, and “hey Superman this is my city!” I have to go, the boy scout is back again!