With its new social features Miiverse and NintendoLand, Nintendo is confronting the challenges of monitoring and regulating the ways people communicate with each other inside its privileged magic circle. Speaking at a developer roundtable at E3, Nintendo’s Katsuya Eguichi spoke about the company’s efforts to delimit the kinds of interactions people have with one another on Wii U.
“You want to be able to trust someone before you become friends with them,” Eguchi said. In NintendoLand this will be accomplished by referencing all social interactions to the games made available in the park. The hub world will be populated by other people’s Miis and your first impression of these other people will be a record of their achievements in NintendoLand‘s games. You can go up to another Mii and “touch them” to open up a window that shows which games they’ve played and what significant actions they’ve accomplished in each.
“I hate when you go to internet message boards to talk about a game and people complain when they haven’t even played it,” Eguchi said. “In Miiverse you always know who’s played the game [they’re talking about].”
Nintendo will also have a filtering system to ensure the personalized comments people leave in Miiverse and NintendoLand aren’t profane or, worse still, contain game spoilers. Nintendo will actively monitor people’s messages for “inappropriate” content, and other players can inform on one another by flagging messages for Nintendo review.
The atmosphere is a kind of utopian social chilling meant to divert one’s imagination from any unseemly thoughts in advance, not by punishing people but by creating an environment where cheerfulness itself is a currency.
The grand encapsulating metaphor for this approach is the guide through NintedoLand, which is a floating robot that has a computer monitor for a face. The expression of this guide character is inscrutably neutral and the Japanese word for her loosely translates to “Sign Girl.” She is a kind of unresponsive proctor designed to be unamused by filth and fart jokes, an eerily discarnate role model meant to tell you both how things work in the theme park and also reminding you of what sorts of behaviors won’t be accepted.