E3: Miiverse and Nintendo’s plan for keeping it clean

June 06, 2012 | 11:29 a.m.
satoru iwata e3 E3: Miiverse and Nintendos plan for keeping it clean

Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata at the E3 2012 conference. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

When Nintendo on Sunday announced its Miiverse social network for its upcoming Wii U game console, skeptics immediately started wondering how long it would take before griefers would overrun the feeds with profanity — or worse. Given that users will be able to post drawings and scribbles they create on the Wii U’s GamePad touch screen controller, keeping things clean would seem to be an especially challenging matter.

Although the Japanese game company didn’t address that issue in its announcement, it turns out that Nintendo’s chief executive, Satoru Iwata, has already given the matter some thought. That’s not surprising given Nintendo’s heritage as a platform for kids.

“Nintendo is deeply concerned about secure communications,” said JC Fletcher, managing editor of Joystiq, a site for game news and reviews. “Whatever they do, it will be severely content restricted.”

Fletcher is correct. In an interview at the E3 conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Iwata said Nintendo planned to use a three-prong approach to combat misbehavior.

The first is content filtering, which can be done with software that can scan for naughty words. That, of course, isn’t foolproof because gamers can be a deviously creative bunch when it comes to alternative spellings.

That’s why Iwata said the company was also planning to use a second method — “human resources.” Nintendo plans to hire people to monitor content on Miiverse.

The filtering will be done before the posts are published, Iwata said. With software, that can take a few seconds. But humans need a lot more time to manually sift through content.

As a result, there will probably be a delay between the time a user creates a post and when it appears in the Miiverse feed. How long depends on how many posts are created and how many people Nintendo has to do the work.

“The attraction of a social network is the immediacy of the feedback,” Iwata said. On the other hand, it’s absolutely essential that parents need to feel comfortable with Miiverse as a safe place for their children, he added.

That raises the question: What is an acceptable time lag that satisfies both requirements? Is it 30 minutes? Or three hours?

Iwata said that the company will monitor feedback from its users when the service launches to answer that question. “But personally, I think 30 minutes should be acceptable,” he said.

The third technique that Nintendo will employ will be the community itself, as users can flag inappropriate content. But that’s not ideal because it means that some people will almost certainly  have seen an offending post before it is taken down.

Fletcher of Joystiq suggested another idea — a friend list for kids below 13. Parents, for example, could set the console to show only posts from people their children know.

“And, hopefully their friends aren’t creeps,” Fletcher said. But that’s another topic.

— Alex Pham


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6 Responses to E3: Miiverse and Nintendo’s plan for keeping it clean

  1. Iko says:

    he knows about pedophile that why

  2. Cartman says:

    As long as they don't do that to private messages that sounds very reasonable to me.

  3. Nintendo-Demand says:

    They should do an age separation, but I understand that would make it a bit hard to play a game with all gamers, so instead they can make it so that people of certain age groups can't chat or do video chat with individuals of younger/older age groups. The filter would still be there for words, but would be less waiting.

    Older age groups should be allowed to enable/disable to filter feature to boost chat times, if someone gets reported and the proof is in the system, they should do a 3 strike rule to ban that character (not from gaming online, but from chatting with others).

    If the person thinks that they can create a new character and just continue with inappropriate behavior, then each character thereafter should be banned after one offense. After 3 strikes on a system with 3 different characters, the system should be banned from chat and sharing personal content (if the person is dumb enough to push things to that extent, then they don't deserve to be online with others following the rules). It wouldn't prevent them from playing online though, and the system's status would only be reset once registered by someone else.

    If Nintendo doesn't want to ban them from chatting with friends, or people that are considering becoming their friends, there should be a warning that the person was banned from chat for inappropriate language and/or content. I think not being able to openly communicate with others would be best though.

    "Nintendo-Demand" (Google+ & Facebook)

  4. Expert says:

    If you do this though it means that anyone in their family cannot use the service, including siblings and parents that did nothing wrong.

    • Nintendo-Demand says:

      Who's fault would that be? The family would have that person to blame. Yes the family would be affected by such a ban based on the way I've mentioned it though, a new person can register. That one idiot may affect his or her family, but what about everyone else online? That's a small sacrifice in comparison. If the person is getting their Wii U "strikes", then tell them to stop or deny them access so the rest of the family is effected. I'd do it specific to each user until they push it to the point of having the system banned from chat.__It would be no one else's fault but the idiot and their family being affected has nothing to do with us, thats up to them to sit down with their family member to find out what the heck's wrong with them.__Anyway, to make it easier for us and Nintendo, they can simply add a on/off switch for adults, this switch would enable/disable friends codes, so anyone that prefers to stick with that would have the option, and have it password locked for their kids.__Anyone that doesn't want a filter like adults, should have that option. Auto filters can be set up for swearing, and that would work immediately.__

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