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Nintendo says the Wii U's Miiverse is an 'empathy network'

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On empathy and the Miiverse

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata describes the Wii U's Miiverse – the online gaming community integrated into the Wii U – as an "empathy network" because players who share the same gaming experiences will be able to empathize with one another when they're using the service.

In the latest Iwata Asks interview series, the Nintendo president speaks with the Wii U Miiverse developers Kiyoshi Mizuki of Nintendo's Network Business Department and Junya Kondo of Hatena Co. Ltd. While interviewing the two developers, Iwata says that the Wii U's Miiverse is more than a service that connects players, it's about sharing experiences.

"I thought that if people who had experienced the same game got together and said 'Yeah, yeah, I thought so, too,' and connected via that kind of empathy, they would both be happy," he says. "We needed to figure out how we could design the service so that people would empathize with each other as much as possible, so I labeled it an empathy network."

Aside from bringing players happiness, Iwata believes that if players are brought together by empathy then they will be less likely to behave poorly, especially since NIntendo's ID system does not require users to reveal their real names.

"While it's extremely rare, communities can break down because of rude people taking advantage of anonymity," he says. "Using real names is a way to put the brakes on that, but if you are tied together by empathy, I feel like real names become less important. I think it is important to be tied together by shared sentiment that way."

Junya Kondo adds that Miiverse has a "Yeah" button that allows someone to "up vote" another user's comment if they share a particular sentiment. He says it's not simply about agreeing with a comment, but sharing the same feeling, "so the empathy is double."

For the full interview where the developers talk about how they chose to deliver the service and Nintendo's Network Policy, visit Iwata Asks.