The 3DS: Social Gaming for Introverts

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The 3DS: Social Gaming for Introverts

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I have never been a fan of social gaming. In the four years I have had my Xbox 360, I’ve accumulated roughly seven friends. On PS3, I had one, but I deleted him. I’ve disabled any game notifications on Facebook, and blocked requests from friends. When I play online, I mute everyone, including my team mates. I like my gaming to be quiet and solitary. So why is it I am so enamored with the 3DS? It’s a device that is clearly built around getting out, meeting people, and sharing your experiences as a gamer. Experiences that, frankly, I don’t want to share. Yet here I am, glancing anxiously at my system after I’ve gone to the store, or taken a bus ride, in the hopes that a little green LED light will inform me that I have made a new friend.

I think the fascination stems from the fact that the 3DS does everything for you. Everything, save for directly adding someone to your friend roster, is done automatically, out of sight, and out of mind. If you come close to anyone who has a 3DS, you will trade Miis via Street Pass, and that’s that. It’s a vaguely voyeuristic feeling, knowing you have a miniature version of someone in your pocket. These aren’t just static characters, either; they’ll show up in your games and sometimes give you items to use in the pre-loaded mini games on your 3DS. In essence, they become a part of your everyday life, without you ever meeting or speaking with them.

The 3DS allows people to feel as though they’ve made a friend without actually doing anything, and I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m an extremely closed off person when it comes to my online identity. I have 56 friends on Facebook and they are all people I have met in real life. However, the 3DS makes it so easy it’s hard not to get sucked in. There’s no upkeep, no guilt in deleting friends, no messages from people asking why you deleted them. It’s all clean, simple, and anonymous. Even the “status” updates of people you have in your friend roster is limited to 16 characters and there’s no way to comment on it or anything like that. It’s a system that’s void of complication and void of drama.

In this day and age, your online identity holds just as much water as your real life one. There are consequences to the things you say and do, and in that way it can be very difficult to escape reality, which is an aspect of gaming that is held dear by many. The 3DS is, in many ways, giving people a way to put part of themselves into their gaming life without jeopardizing anything of any real value. Nintendo even encourages you to not use your real name when creating your Mii and user profile. It’s all very anonymous and very controlled, yet it gives players enough room to create an identity of their own, one that they can take with them wherever they go.

It’s the perfect social system for introverts, and one that this introvert very much approves of.

This post was submitted by Maths.

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