Did you leave the house today? If you did hit the streets to go to the shops, work or school, then we have two more questions for you. Did you take your 3DS with you, and did you get any StreetPass hits? It’s easy to forget that, when 3DS was launched, Nintendo placed a fair bit of emphasis on the idea of taking the handheld onto the streets and interacting with others. Early adverts showed a gamer jumping into a friendly Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition brawl with another impossibly-attractive individual on a subway train, but also demonstrated systems trading data and blinking an alluring green light to show that StreetPass had burst into action.
It’s a concept that’s simple and, in many ways, a method to encourage daily interaction with your 3DS. It’s an idea that is absolutely perfect for busy Japanese cities, where there’s already a notable culture of taking handheld gaming consoles everywhere: yet success elsewhere has perhaps been limited. For those living in remote areas it’s a feature that may never spring to life, while there are big towns and cities where hits can still be a rare occurrence, exposing the fact that the 3DS user-base outside of Japan is noticeably less keen to carry the handheld around the streets.
After the console arrived in March 2011, there were various StreetPass meet-ups arranged in a number of cities as part of an initial burst of enthusiasm. Trading small amounts of data, as well as treasured puzzle pieces and adventurers for StreetPass Quest was part of the fun, and it was an extra feature that made 3DS feel like a system bringing new experiences: even if a few DS titles had tried a similar idea. Nintendo was keen to promote the concept of trading content, naturally, and even declared 25th June 2011 to be National StreetPass Day in North America, though there didn’t seem to be a repeat this year.
Such was the emphasis on the feature at the time of launch that www.meetup.com/Nintendo3DS was setup as part of National StreetPass Day, to help groups co-ordinate and organise meet-ups. Unfortunately, the site is relatively quiet at the moment, with a lot of events having taken place in 2011. Nintendo has been doing its part in recent times, arguably, with examples being the Another Dimension 3D photo competition in the UK, as well as promotions and competitions related to Kid Icarus: Uprising in a variety of countries, including events to take on pro-gamers or encouragement for meetings through meetup.com. Ultimately, it’s down to 3DS gamers to have the will to organise themselves and meet, if there’s the desire for socialising and some guaranteed StreetPass hits.
One city that’s still showing an appetite for StreetPass meet-ups is New York, with www.streetpassnyc.blogspot.co.uk/ being updated regularly with new articles and, most importantly, events that include competitions and specific multiplayer tournaments. Another resource is www.streetpassnetwork.com/, which tries to provide links and details for the various groups that exist around the world, all in an effort to persuade us to meet other 3DS gamers. Social networks are also hugely important, and it was through Twitter that we heard about the Edinburgh meet-up on 1st July; we decided to go along.
In many ways, this event showed why regular gatherings with other 3DS gamers are worth the effort, as Nintendo systems and games are designed for sharing with others. Held in the Princes Street gardens overlooked by Edinburgh Castle, the attendees didn’t take long to start getting into multiplayer, as well as trading Kid Icarus: Uprising AR cards and all-important Pokédex content. When speaking to organiser Kerr Henderson, he left no doubt about his motivations and inspirations to make it happen.
It started just over a month ago when I was on my 3DS after being in town, having a StreetPass hit and, as we all do, wishing I had more: I’m still yet to complete a puzzle. I had heard of StreetPass NYC and the meetings they have done, and thought to myself "why not here?” I started a Twitter account and tweeted out to Nintendo UK, other well-known companies and news websites, such as yourselves. I also tweeted a gaming charity called Sick Kids Save Point, @SKsavepoint, which does a lot of charity work for the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh through gaming marathons: the man in charge writes a gaming article in the Edinburgh Evening News and he was kind enough to mention us in the paper.
After a few more retweets and mentions I started to pick up traffic and found out people were really up for it. I also got chatting to the manager of the local Game store and he was very encouraging and willing to put up a poster. I wanted to get Nintendo involved and tell them what I was organising; they were behind me, which was really encouraging.
Nintendo UK showed support by sending a representative, who brought along Pokemon Typing Adventure as well as, to the delight of the attendees, a shiny new silver 3DS XL. The opportunity to try out the new handheld ahead of members of the press was exciting for everyone, and unsurprisingly Kerr is keen to organise more events in future.
This first event went great and everyone there was asking when the next one will be. I would really like to hold one indoors, with tables and chairs, so we can have a Kid Icarus tournament and not worry about the weather: this is Scotland, after all. I would love to have a monthly or bi-monthly event for people just to meet up, chat and play games. Then maybe special events for launches, at the moment I’m trying to maybe plan something for the weekend of the launch of New Super Mario Bros. 2, as it has multiplayer.
It would be great to get one in every city all over the UK and even have a massive UK meet up somewhere: that’s the dream.
We enjoyed meeting some fellow gamers in Edinburgh and talking about all things 3DS, and it’s an experience that can’t be replicated by challenging each other’s Miis online, not to mention the fact that it allowed the sharing of those all-important pink puzzle pieces. There are millions of 3DS gamers around the world, maybe we should use events like these to get to know each other better.