Since Miiverse was revealed during Nintendo's pre-E3 video presentation, it's become evident that it takes the Mii concept from Wii and expands it to something more than a humorous avatar that's playable in some games. Wii did allow some fun ways of sharing Mii characters and giving them more personality, and 3DS has continued the trend, but it seems to be the Wii U Miiverse that will finally turn them from fun little avatars into a representation of the gamer in a virtual world: at least that seems to be the intention.
In the second part of its interview with Satoru Iwata, Kotaku asked about the Miiverse concept, which will be prominent on Wii U and is set to also become part of 3DS in the future. Iwata-san spoke about the idea behind the new online functionality and how it aims to encourage interaction between gamers in single player experiences, not just in competitive multiplayer.
We have reached an era where even a single-player game experience [can] have a social component that is very important. And I think, again, that social component is mandatory.
...I feel that we need to create—or present—a gaming platform as the place to create that 'social graph' for folks who are in gaming circles, I guess. So that's kind of the reason for creating Miiverse.
When we looked at the timing of how we are going to be implementing it, [we said], 'Okay, when are the best points when people want to have social interactions and makes them want to reach out and say, "Me too," "I did that," "I feel the same way,"?', I think, on a very human level, that is what will give them a sense of satisfaction.
If you look at gaming services, for example if you look at Xbox Live, one of the more traditionally or generally accepted features of the gaming service is the ability to play with folks at different locations at the same time. On the other hand, you're not always going to be available at the same time to play with each other. And of course we're going to have that service of head-to-head [multiplayer, when you are] on at the same time playing games against each other, but what we really want to do is create a place where folks who are playing by themselves will not feel like they are playing by themselves. They'll be able to share those experiences and have that empathy that we mentioned earlier.
We've seen examples of this in action with the infamous 'non-specific Action Figure' skit, where being stuck in a game can be countered by hopping onto Miiverse to look up information, ask for help or even video call a friend. It promises to be one of the most intriguing parts of Wii U when it launches later this year, and it'll be interesting to see whether Nintendo can deliver on the ambitious concept.