Sunday Thoughts: Connected?

Before writing the introduction to this article, I had fully intended to talk about the 3DS even more and explain the pros and cons of the StreetPass feature. That’s not a broad enough topic though (although you’ll still find a small section about it) and the topic of connectivity was too general. So, this being a weekly feature on a gaming website, I thought that we should take a look at the simple, passer-by type of connectivity – present in online gaming, social networking and even here in the comments section of TSA.

I’m never a few seconds away from loading up twitter or Facebook and seeing what the world is doing, these days. I’ve always got my phone on me and, failing that, I’ll have my laptop or another PC near. Twitter is a superb service; it lets me keep up to date with the people that I know. But every now and then, someone pops up that I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll reply to them, but what about afterwards? I might follow them and talk to them again if I’ve had a decent conversation, although most of the time they’ll just slip back into the folds of the internet. It’s the same situation with many different things and there are a lot of missed opportunities to connect with people.

First, I’ll tell you about StreetPass: it’s a feature of the 3DS that connects your console to other consoles in close proximity whilst they are both in stand-by mode, and it allows you to swap data, such as having your figurines in Street Fighter fight, or collecting their Mii for your Mii Plaza. It’s a great idea and it encourages you to go out and be social in some capacity, but I now have six people that I’ve never met in my life’s Miis living in my console. It’s a nice way of gamers communicating, but it’s never going to go any further unless I quiz everyone in Paisley, Glasgow and Edinburgh about their Mii – I’ll never know who these people really are, will I? I can’t even add them to my friends list or send them a quick message.

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See, I like to know about people; I want to know just who they are and why they deserve to have their Mii on my system. This is why I love Twitter: I know a lot more about many TSA members because of it and now they’re a lot more than just a name and a picture, or a Mii and a greeting, if you will. StreetPass is a great idea, don’t get me wrong, but these people that have forced their way onto my system probably don’t know who I am and, most likely, will never know me – unless they can work it out from my greeting of “mynameisblair”; I’d love to see someone that could. This brings the question: where’s the point in being connected to people if you can’t actually connect with them?

See, there’s one example of connecting to others being just too simple. It’s the same for some people that will reply in the comments section of TSA; maybe even to this article – there are some people that I’ll get to know (or might already know), but others will just remain faceless users that spout funny replies now and then, unfortunately. Not that I should get friendly with every one of you; too much of a good thing can be unhealthy. Another place you’ll find this common trait is in the land of online gaming; I fought a guy on Street Fighter earlier named Metal. That’s all I’ll know of him and I doubt we’ll ever speak to each other, but I still managed to play a game and share joy with him (well, until I beat him that is!).

Those thousands of people in the lobbies I’ve been in whilst playing Call of Duty? I might have shared a joyful experience with most of them, but I’ve actually added five, at most, to my friends list. I remember a few of them clearly: complete strangers that I’ve met whilst playing a game. They were more than just a team mate or even an enemy though; they had personality and entertained me with good conversation, so that’s why I added them. Those people that I had connected with were a tiny percentage of the massive amount people I have played games with. It’s incredible really; you wouldn’t expect to go out into the real world, do a task with some people and then forget them straight after it would you? That’s the way of the internet though.

Around two years ago, I decided to stick with TheSixthAxis, rather than be a faceless guest that came here to simply read the latest news and articles. It could have been so different though; I might never have read that post, forum thread or comment that convinced me to sign-up. I’d have missed out on a lot of people that I now consider friends if I had simply sat back rather than integrate myself into the community. If I hadn’t connected with TSA and just been another passer-by I can’t imagine how different things would be.

StreetPass might not give you the option to get to know the people you’ve connected to more but online gaming, twitter and TSA all do. So, go and talk to some people in a game (if they aren’t screaming or playing music), or get to know the interesting people on Twitter. If you’re a guest, sitting there with your chocolate biscuits and cup of tea, reading this article that happens to lie below the message “You are seeing a cache delayed guest version of the site. Log in to get the most out of TheSixthAxis.” then go on, log in and you’ll definitely get the most out of TheSixthAxis.

And now that you all definitely are logged on: Hello! My name is Blair.

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21 Comments

  1. While on the TSA front the community is excellent, Facebook, Twitter etc and the ever increasing presence of a need to shoehorn community/social features into anything and everything are an annoyance to those of us with social difficulties that see no use for the large majority of features.

    I don’t mind at all really, but when social features become the basic requirement for tech and products that I’d like to use, they’ll become distinctly non-inclusive.

    • I couldn’t agree more, I don’t use Facebook much because of it and when I do, I want to talk to the people I added and not some random people that happen to live in my area or are around the same age as me. Facebook never seems to be happy with your number of friends…

      • I hate facebook and dont use it either.

  2. Or familiarity breeds contempt

    Nice article. I have a lengthy reply for this which includes tales of friendships born out of my warhawk clan, but I’m in bed, using the iPhone and fear for my thumb and it’s potential to suffer from RSI, so I will save it for another time c

  3. Really interesting article. Twitter is amazing, I keep in touch with people I know and have gotten to know some brilliant people. It does have a greater depth than I think people (including me) give it credit for at the start. You are spot on with the online gaming part, played with thousands but only a few ever get added. It is like “real” life, but with less people; you meet lots af acquaintances but only the extra special ones get to stay around.

    Social aspects do improve most games but like mentioned before, they should not be shoehorned in just for the sake of it.

  4. StreetPass appears to me as a nice feature to get people hooked on 3DS, constantly reminding them to think 3DS, bring it with them, check constantly whether they’ve met another Streetpasser, without really providing anything interesting. There’s no real purpose or gain. It’s just addicting, not satiating.

  5. nice article blair, street pass sounds cool. how does it work? wi-fi?

    also, what does a cache delayed version mean?

    • It’s cool, it just uses the wireless (not wifi) to connect your 3DS and any one that is near you.
      I believe that if you’re a guest, comments etc. don’t come up instantly :)

  6. Good article, perhaps i misread it but i didn’t know you could play Street Fighter in standby mode – it must really save on the batteries ;)

    On a more serious note, although it doesn’t happen much to me personally ( i’ve only had to report two) there are often abusive messages sent over PSN. Perhaps Nintendo don’t want to have that risk while some kid is playing innocently and receives a torrent of abuse from some loser. In that sense i think the Streetpass method is ideal.

    I have only 20 people on my friends list, five of whom i know in real life. There would be more but i don’t add people who send blank add requests and i delete those who ask me to game share – there’s a lot of those out there.
    Out of those 20, i communicate more often with those that i know than those i don’t but even so not with any great regularity .

    Chatting with those i know is on a more personal level while chatting with those i don’t know stays fairly general. I only compare my trophies competitively with one of my friends. I know people form great online friendships and that is great but i guess i’m more comfortable with people i know – plus i don’t want a dozen messages popping up every time i play a game! :)

    So, there you go, often (hopefully not too often) i’m one of those that jokes and runs away but today i thought i would share. :)

    • Yep, your team of figurines does actually fight the other player’s team of figurines whilst your system is in standby.
      Thanks for sharing :D

  7. Good article, Blair.

    You are indeed wired to the internet in a huge way (from what I’ve seen of you) which I find quite daunting. Not, personally, but how you stay connected. The dependency almost demands it, at certain levels, I feel. To see so many social networking systems online where, quite frankly, they’re actually very unsocial in the real world. The level of anonymity, the impersonality of it all. People sitting behind their computers hurling abuse or basically not committing to actually getting to know people.

    Thankfully, there’s an upside. Places like TSA where people gather around a single hobby and friendship grows from there. I’ve got to know the nutsack podcast lads quite well (although I knew Matt beforehand) but it’s still a bit “pretend” in a way. As much as I can care it’s still the online version of friends. Sure, a friendship might manifest in the real world but I can still see the very real differences. Nintendo are enjoying the social aspect of gaming and they’re pushing damned hard to exploit it properly. Ultimately for games’ and hardware sales but it’s still fascinating to see what angle they’ll come up with next.

    Is now a good time for me to say that I want to bitchslap anyone who says “good morning” on Twitter? :-)

    • Guess what’s going to be on your twitter feed in the Morning from just about everyone who reads this.

  8. Just to say, I absolutely love the StreetPass quest (little turn-based game in which you use collected Miis to fight for you, or you can buy them with Play Coins). It’s a brilliant little thing but I didn’t think I could fit that into this article.

    • You should try connecting to the GAME and HMV demo units, the Mii’s in StreetPass Plaza can have some interesting things to say ^^

  9. Great read as always.

  10. Apart from real world friends and family my PSN friends list is mostly people who I’ve met through this site. A better standard of player.

    • Almost the same here.
      I have three classes of PSN friend: ‘Real’ friends, TSA peeps and fellow members of a car owners club.
      I think that the background connection takes away some of the anonymity of the internet and drives people to be better behaved, which makes for much more fun online gaming

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