Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Nintendo’s Miitomo app is a more pleasant social network

Dorp, Matt, and Sanskrit

Welcome to our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans, nagging questions, and whatever else we feel like talking about. No matter what the topic, we invite everyone in the comments to tell us: What Are You Playing This Weekend?

When it first released, a handful of Gameological writers and commenters got swept up in Miitomo, Nintendo’s strange social media app. I loved all the wacky photos and weird outfits that came out of the thing and they kept me coming back, but the novelty has since worn off for me. The other day I noticed (via a hilarious Twitter exchange with his mother, naturally) A.V. Club Editor-In-Chief John Teti had recently taken the plunge. I was curious to get his take on thDoe app, so for this week’s What Are You Playing This Weekend? we had a chat about the merits of Miitomo and the surprisingly lasting legacy of Miis.

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Matt Gerardi: So I see you’ve started using Miitomo, John. Is there anything in particular that got you into it?

John Teti: I think I just saw some people I like talking about it on the tweets and twerts. Maybe you were one of them? Anyway, I like Nintendo stuff, but I felt out of the loop lately because I wasn’t into the whole Amiibo craze. I just wasn’t willing to fall down that collecting rabbit hole. But Miitomo was cute, and it was free, so I gave it a shot on a lark. I quickly got sucked into it, but not in an unhealthy way.

It’s the rare social network that’s more pleasant than addictive. I love that it keeps giving you these simple question prompts to stimulate conversation. “What did you do last weekend?” “What’s your favorite kind of bread?” “What have you noticed becoming popular lately?” And so on. It sounds dumb, but in practice it creates these little chats among friends that’s a rung or two above empty small talk. It’s an easier, less tiresome way to keep in touch than Facebook. I also like the cute Mii voices. The speech synthesis is surprisingly good but also adorable in that Nintendo way.

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MG: I started fiddling with it right after it came out, and Derrick was quick to make a similar point about the conversations. Him and I—and then a bunch of friends and friends of friends—fell right into this talk about our favorite Pop Tarts. It’s so silly in the moment, but looking back, it is a weirdly specific conversation that we never would have had otherwise.

JT: Exactly. The peculiar, specific questions are a nice touch. “What fruit have you eaten the most in your life?” Who would think to ask a question like that? Only the lovable, wonderful dorks at Nintendo. Nintendorks.

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MG: Do you find yourself putting too much thought into the answers or do you just fire them off? It probably says a lot about me that I tend to hem and haw over such trifling things as “What’s your favorite food?”

JT: I answer the first thing that comes to mind. With a seemingly endless supply of questions (if you choose to answer them—I like that the app goes out of its way not to bombard you with them), I treat it as a free-associative exercise. Maybe it helps that I view my Mii as a sort of alter ego rather than as an avatar of myself. Your Mii really looks like you, and it has your name. I can see where you’d be invested in him. My Mii is named Dorp. He doesn’t wear glasses because I don’t like any of the designs that Nintendo supplies. And he wears a bow in his hair because that’s something I couldn’t really pull off in real life. So I feel liberated to let Dorp be pretty carefree and not worry about his words too much.

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I think you were there when Dorp was created. We were setting up the Wii U, and it was taking forever, and you know how I get frustrated with these console updates and installs and whatnot. So when it came time to make the Mii, I’m pretty sure we just used the camera feature, and I gave the Mii the dumbest name I could think of.

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MG: I do remember Dorp! Honestly, I was delighted to see him. That’s an old-school Gameological reference. I think he made it to the site at some point.

JT: I do like the fashion in the game, and how you get a reward for changing your clothes a lot. I’m leveling up that stat pretty quickly. The addition of new outfits every day is a key feature for me. Honestly, the traditional game part of the app is the worst part. That Miitomo Drop thing.

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It’s just a boring pachinko thing, and the clothes you can win are terrible. I don’t want to wear a ninja hood or a piece of fruit on my head.

MG: See, now that’s where you and I differ. I may be very careful with my answers, but I don’t care at all about what my Mii wears. I care in that I might want it to look cool or nice or funny depending on my mood, but I’m on board for letting him look like a complete jackass who’s down to wear nothing but fishnets and a giant doughnut around his head.

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JT: I want my Mii to be hot as fuck.

MG: Yes. Dorp, the hottest Mii.

JT: The Mii form has really endured, hasn’t it? The look of Miis hasn’t changed all that much since the Wii came out.

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MG: They haven’t changed the look at all. I don’t think they’ve even changed the options for the various facial features.

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JT: That’s a pretty enduring design in the video game world.

MG: Yeah, they’ve somehow outlived the core of the Wii itself: motion controls.

JT: So how do people become friends with me on Miitomo if they want to? I don’t even know. I just linked up my Twitter and Facebook, and I got some friends.

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MG: I think you have to be following each other on Twitter, but there’s also a way to send friend requests to mutual friends.

JT: Well, if Gameological people want to be my friend on Miitomo, if that’s possible, my name is Dorp and I will be your friend. We’ll talk about our favorite kind of bread together.

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