3ds StreetPass and pedometers – new social gaming twist

A feature of the new 3ds handheld that does get mentioned but is generally overshadowed by the lenticular lens 3d screen is its network capabilities. StreetPass may seem an odd concept but in terms of ensuring you have the console on your person at all times and powered up it is fascinating.
What StreetPass does is keep the 3ds wireless running whilst in standby but in a low power mode. It looks for other 3ds consoles within about 30 metres of it at any time. Why? Well it does this so that if a fellow 3ds owner passes you in the street the two machines will exchange data with one another whilst sat in you bag or pocket. It is a form of digital business card exchange.
Nintendo have, with this, gone and invented a whole new dynamic to social gaming in a networked world. You often bump into gamers online in games that you play at the times that you play them. i.e. fully distributed networks. With StreetPass you are bumping into gamers at a time and physical place which gives you something in common, and hence makes that person of interest.
What interested me, aside from the tech, was how this felt. Whilst I was in London heading back from the BBC I had my 3ds on standby in my pocket on the tube. I actually got off at a stop I did not need to, in this case picadilly circus, and walked down to leicester square in order to see if my StreetPass would connect with anyone.
This physical activity did in fact yield a few StreetPass exchanges. So when i got back on the tube train I was able to see a few Mii’s (the little avatars you create as a calling card/game character) now residing on my handheld. One was even from someone form Spain. My epredator Mii had also been delivered to them of course. I had, as an experiment also put Feeding Edge Ltd as my greeting so it was a kind of advert !
Mii visitors
These Mii’s also come with things that relate to games, such as a specific piece of a puzzle, or they can be used to drive a mini game. We are only scratching the surface of how this will pan out.
I had been playing a bit of Street Fighter IV which is tremendous game on the DS and has been crafted superbly. Part of that is the ability to win in game figures. These figures form part of a collection that can be traded wirelessly, but more excitingly you are able to assemble a fantasy fighting team from the figures.You are given a certain number of skill and attribute points that you are allowed to spend and then the different figures and characters can be user to create the team. Once created this can be StreetPass enabled. I obviously wandered past a fellow SF IV player as we basically exchanged team data. Once you spark up the game again it asks if you want to run the simulated battle using this data. I did, I won 🙂 in winning I gained some more currency to spend on more in game figures to build the team. It’s almost like play by mail rock/paper/scissors with a huge techie twist.
3ds SF IV team
Just to complete the behaviour altering loop though the 3ds also acts as a pedometer. It counts your steps, the more steps you do the more game coins you are credited with. These game coins can be used to purchase in game items. In the case of SF IV it is, yes you guessed it, more game figures to build the team with.
So, I was carrying a 3ds in my pocket, deliberately walked through the centre of London to see how it worked, gathered some other gamers data, played an offline game with that data which earned me more game points to be able to do that again and the act of walking wash also gaining those game points too.
I think this is going to be a fascinating twist, and may surpass the 3d elements of the nintendo handheld. It has shades of the Wiimote for being genre changing. In a world of online social games they have reintroduced the physical environment to the mix and I am sure some very cool ideas will spring out of that.
(I have not even begun to riff on the AR capabilities which are awesome too, more on that later)

3 thoughts on “3ds StreetPass and pedometers – new social gaming twist

  1. I have to say that Nintendo just keep hitting things out of the park.

    I’m really surprised by the 3DS. Things like StreetPass and Play Coins (and the many ways in which both can be used and combined) make it a really, really fun mobile experience, and definitely revitalise the platform in the face of growing competition from e.g. iOS. I’m challenged to take my console with me; meet people; acquire games to find new challenges (both Ridge Racer and SFIV, the two native 3DS games I currently have in my collection, support StreetPass features – although I think there are some usability / discoverability issues in understanding how those things work); and I’ve enjoyed unlocking content like all of the built-in AR games via Play Coins. Great stuff.

  2. It is clever stuff. I agree the usability is a bit odd. Lots of opting in and not always clear if something is permanently streetpass set or not. Odd also that the whole friend code system is such a malarky still but you can play perfect strangers more easily.
    Be great to see where this goes and how all the other makers of phones and game consoles wake up to it as happened with the wiimote.

  3. Pingback: Nice 3DS photos | Giochi per PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo DS, PSP, iPhone e iPad

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