Miitomo is a virtual world and we’re just living in it.
A new social media app recently put out by Nintendo, Miitomo, brings the Mii characters we learned to love while playing the Wii to the next level. The app rewards you with coins and candy based on your interactions with in-game friends. While it might sound somewhat lonely, the app received 1 million downloads within the first three days of its release in North America and Europe.
The game itself is somewhat simple. First, one creates a Mii. Among other options, you can change the nickname, accent and voice pitch that your Mii speaks in. Other games with customizable avatars have been on the rise, such as a recent popular application that allows one to “Powerpuff” themselves. Miitomo however, takes it a step further.
The app is reminiscent of an ask.fm in the sense that you need to answer questions about yourself, but there is an added twist. Miitomo is essentially a social networking app, as it allows you to interact with your friends, just not as yourself. Instead, you become your Mii within the app. To participate, you tap on your Mii and answer questions that the app asks you about yourself. These answers are then shared with your friends in the game when they click on your avatar.
While it might sound almost scary and intrusive to have a virtual version of yourself, Miitomo undergoes the process of learning about and interacting with your friends in the game by liking and commenting on shared pictures and answers. Miitomo is only as fun as you make it and it relies heavily on how many friends you have using it.
Friends can be added through Facebook, by taking a picture of their barcode or through a Nintendo account. These friends are integral for the app experience. You get fewer likes and comments and this makes it harder to progress, reach new levels and earn coins. In addition, there are smaller, in-app games and another part of the app, Miifoto, which allows you to take and edit photos with friends and post them online. This too is a hard feature to utilize if you do not have many virtual acquaintances.
Because of the emphasis of having a large social circle, the app may seem to be shallow. However, Matt Contino, a junior double-majoring in English and philosophy, argues that the game offers a deeper, more thoughtful experience.
“There is something genuine and endearing about how people try to express themselves in a personal way,” Contino said. “Answers require a little more thought than copy and pasting articles or videos the way people share things on Facebook.”
This being said, with this platform comes great responsibility. Most answers and comments between Miis are shared publicly with friends, so the conversation is open. This can either be awkward or a chance to joke around. You can see other people’s answers by visiting their rooms or having them come visit yours.
Nintendo doesn’t tell you the experience you’re supposed to have and the result is that everyone takes something unique from the app. The appeal of Miitomo is the ability to exist as a virtual version of yourself in a virtual world. Only time will tell if this feature is a keeper, or if it scares people away. For now, however, Miitomo is in the app store to stay.