I hope you guys are interested in Wii U, because I’m going to be talking about it a lot for the next two weeks leading up to E3.
There have been a lot of rumors floating around concerning Nintendo’s new hardware offering, which is par for the course when a new console is announced but official details are scarce. There’s always some random post on a tiny forum in the dark corners of the internet from an “anonymous developer” who has the inside scoop and decided the best way to leak information is by posting it on n1nt3nd0fanz.org. A lot of them are very easily dismissible, but there’s one that I’ve seen a couple of times that seems very “Nintendo” and is actually very appealing to me – physical “gamer cards” with a StreetPass function.
We already know that Wii U will feature user accounts similar to Gamertags or PSN IDs according to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. The rumor is that Nintendo will introduce physical “gamer cards” which you can carry with you and StreetPass with other Wii U users to swap information. These cards will supposedly feature a tiny LCD screen that will show an image of your Mii and, presumably, other relevant data.
It certainly seems like an offbeat idea, which is precisely why I find it so believable. Nintendo is always thinking outside the box (in this case quite literally) and taking something as stationary as a user account and transmogrifying it into something you literally carry with you is the perfect way to promote the social aspects of Wii U. They’ve been doing it with the 3DS since launch and it could very easily have been a sort of “beta test” for similar functionality for their new home console.
While the 3DS has, by design, very limited avenues for communication, those barriers will in all likelihood cease to exist on Wii U with Nintendo trying to appeal to the core gamer. Now imagine you check your “gamer card” after your bus ride home from work or school and you notice you’ve “tagged” the same person a few days in a row and you both have been playing similar games. You can have the option of adding that person as a friend on Wii U, and send them a message asking if they wanted to play Mario Kart online sometime. Congratulations, you just made a new friend!
Of course, there would be some limits in place, as Nintendo takes protecting privacy very seriously. For example, maybe a child’s account can only “tag” other cards of users under 13 or require activation by a designated “parent” account. It should go without saying that the entire program would be completely optional, so if you don’t want to share any of your information your account can stay safely tucked away in the innards of your console.
It just has so many advantages and practical uses it almost seems like a no brainer. Have you ever met a friend and decided you wanted to play something online together, then had to fumble with your phone or a notepad to write down their information? Now you can just tap cards and boop, recorded.
With similar functionality already in place with the 3DS, the question arises as to how these can both work without becoming redundant. I imagine that when it gets closer to the Wii U launch the 3DS will see a substantial firmware update to allow it to work in tandem with the console, and perhaps players with both systems will be able to combine both StreetPass options into one.
The picture up on the top of the article is just a quick mockup I did (with some help from Christina) to kind of illustrate how it could work. Your Mii and a spot for a quote would be standard, but it could also have information like how many games you’ve played and what you played last. I decided to go the extra mile and have the background image shift based on that game, but that’s just a little extra flourish. This isn’t based on anything, of course, just something I did for fun.
With just under two weeks to go until E3, Wii U speculation and excitement is going to be at a fever pitch. While things like this “gamer card” are nothing more than a random idea posted on a forum somewhere, they’re still a lot of fun to think about.