I've only had Animal Crossing: New Leaf for a couple days now, but I can barely pry myself away. It has a mix of everything it takes to get me hooked on a game: customization, humor, freedom... And screenshots. Animal Crossing is currently the only 3DS game outside of Japan that supports taking screenshots in-game (by pressing the left and right triggers simultaneously). Not only that, but Nintendo's made it incredibly easy to send your pictures straight from your 3DS to Twitter and/or Tumblr to share with your friends.
It may not seem like much, but this is a pretty big deal. Here's why:
WiiU doesn't have native streaming support, but it does allow players to take screenshots in just about every game to share with others. This is actually a feature they tested out on Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii, which allowed you to take pictures in-game which were saved on your SD card. New Leaf's screenshots are saved similarly, meaning that you can send them out right from your 3DS or transfer them to your computer.
No matter how interested/disinterested you are in game streaming, everyone can enjoy a funny or even beautiful screenshot, though this is another area where PC games dominate their competition on consoles. When I was playing visually stunning Bioshock Infinite earlier this year I took over 800 screenshots, to the point that a friend writing about the game came to me with a laundry list of scenes and scenarios he wanted pictures of, and I was able to fulfill almost every single request immediately. I took funny shots, sad shots, shots to Tweet, shots to use as desktop wallpaper... And from a press perspective, it allowed me to give my articles on the game much more personality (and unique content) than promotional images would. I'm probably a bit of an extreme case, but consider this: The more user-taken pictures/videos are out there, the less people will see the same official materials recycled, and the more new perspectives on the game will emerge.
And, of course, there's no better publicity for an entertainment product than seeing a friend enjoy it in real-time, or even being able to visually follow one of their wacky "You'll never guess what happened in this open-world game" stories. We rely less on gaming magazines and more on bloggers, Redditors, friends and family to sell us on a game, and sharing screenshots can play a huge part in that.
The again, none of this is news to those of us who are fans of MMOs/virtual worlds.
Animal Crossing's easy screenshot tools make it easier than ever to show off your house, your town, your outfit, your accomplishments... Though in my case, I use it mostly to share the ridiculous shit my neighbours say. Either way, I hope more console games will embrace and integrate these kinds of feature in the future, as they're one of the most significant factors keeping me comfortably attached to PC gaming.
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Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.