March 21, 2013 — -- If Sony and Nintendo's emerging generation of video-game home consoles have any common thread, it is social network integration.
Sony announced last month that it is adding a "share" button to live-broadcast social gameplay with the upcoming PlayStation 4, touting a Facebook partnership to boot.
Meanwhile, Nintendo has grown a social network of its own with Wii U's "MiiVerse," a PG-rated community of tips and drawings within their console hub.
We had a chance to sit down with Shigeru Miyamoto, the renowned Japanese creator of "Super Mario Bros." and "The Legend of Zelda," while he was in New York to promote "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" and "Pikmin 3" to get his take on the future of sharing live gameplay via social media, as well as answers to many of our burning questions revolving around Super Mario's world.
Q: Watching people play video games has evolved into a whole subculture. On YouTube there are millions of viewers watching people play. What does social media mean to you as games evolve?
A: The way that we use the ghost data in "Mario Kart" is a good example of that. When you're playing "Mario Kart," you can record how you've played through the course with your ghost data and you can share that ghost data with other people, which allows them to then compete against you even though you're not in the same room or even playing at the same time. And similarly now, of course, with YouTube it's become very easy to simply take a video of what you've played and post it on YouTube for other people to see.
Then you can look at the next evolution of that with games like "New Super Mario Bros." for Wii, and super-play mode. And separate from that, in "Ocarina of Time 3D," that game also had these short movies that essentially served as hints about what to do next. And so what we were able to do is through the game program we were able to build systems through which you were then able to get information that typically would be included in something like a strategy guide.
Similarly, we're able to then use systems similar to that to then also create videos that were sharing. For example, with "New Super Mario Bros." for Wii U, through MiiVerse and using YouTube … we're posting videos of super-play to the MiiVerse community with links so people can go to YouTube.
Q: Are you on Facebook?
A: It's a secret. (Laughs)
I'm not very big on broadcasting my opinions, so I haven't used Twitter all that much. But I do use Facebook quite a bit to communicate with friends.
Q: What was your first reaction when the MiiVerse went live and players began to post so many intricate drawings, putting a ridiculous amount of time and energy into their doodles?
A: Whether it was MiiVerse or "Flipnote Studio," when we first are working on projects like that and we, as the developers, are creating things with those sketches, our immediate first impression is that these are fun things to play with but certainly unless you're really a professional, it's going to be very difficult to draw great pictures.
And, yet, what we find in both of those cases, the average consumer is able to far exceed our expectations of what they can do. What's interesting is that certainly within the structure of those systems, whether its MiiVerse or Flipnote, you do have a certain amount of limitations in terms of what you can use and how you can draw. And so what we're finding is really sort of a competition between people to show the level of their skill within their constraints. So that certainly has been very interesting.