StreetPass has become something more. While no one was looking, it transformed from a means of exchanging information to provide additional items and opportunities within games, to a force that can be used to connect complete strangers. If you’ve ever taken time to stop by a Nintendo Zone or bring a 3DS to a con, you may have even seen this in action and never realized it.
Basically, StreetPass has become something of a social network in miniature. Anonymity is being abandoned in favor of building connections among strangers. It is becoming a promotional tool. People who would never meet are being drawn together, in hopefully positive ways.
It all began by people ignoring Nintendo’s golden rule, which is not to share personal information about themselves when leaving messages for people in the Mii Plaza. Admittedly, it’s one I have violated. I put my Twitter handle as my outgoing message, so I StreetPass has access to my stream of consciousness. I’m not the only one, though.
At the recent PlayStation Experience, I saw many people doing the same. Except, they weren’t limiting themselves to Twitter accounts. There were DeviantArt IDs, PSN names, and websites floating from 3DS to 3DS. Everyone was sharing some kind of information about themselves with others, perhaps in hopes of promoting their interest, or to find like-minded individuals to bond with over past-times.
It’s a recurring them I’ve seen repeatedly at events. Cons are easy ways to get DeviantArt IDs and links to websites with various works. I’ve even seen people providing their friend codes. At E3, I’m constantly seeing Twitter IDs of fellow journalists and personalities who want to bolster their ranks of followers. Sometimes, I even see websites from developers of games, hoping to get a few more hits.
Though, I have more solid evidence that shows something more could be happening. I enjoy attending the Wolff’s Flea Market in Rosemont, IL every spring and summer. About two years ago, I noticed I was StreetPassing the same man over and over. After passing 12 times in the span of a year, I put my email address in as a “personal message” for the next time we passed each other.
A few days after the next flea market, I had an email. We became digital penpals, sharing various gaming IDs and talking about things. Eventually, we became Facebook friends. We discovered we went to the same high school. Now, we’re even friends in real life.
This anecdotal experience proves that StreetPass can, and has, evolved past what Nintendo intended it to be. People are using it as a means to bond with one another, starting with a shared interest in the same console. It’s an encouraging experience, and I can’t help but wonder how many people have connected by using it.