Street Pass Magic

Panels were great for Street Pass
Lets talk Street Pass. I spent the past five days in Boston at PAX East 2012. It was there that I experienced the magic of Street Passing for the first time. When I first learned about Nintendo's Street Pass for the 3DS, I agreed with a lot of the critics, i.e. it seemed like a really dumb way to waste time. Sure, I could collect puzzle pieces and funny hats for my Mii, but so what? After all, the puzzles assemble themselves once you select the piece you want to collect and Find Mii is not the deepest RPG around. The magic is in the Street Pass itself.

As soon as I arrived at the airport, I collected ten passes that demanded my attention. By the time I reached the hotel, I had another ten. As soon as I cleared them, I had another ten... and another ten. I cursed the little green light, at first. Then I started to really dig it. The magic moment was when I started passing two, three, or four times with the same people. I eventually met some of these people for games of Resistance, Bang!, Zombie Dice, and Fluxx. That first night we experienced another magic moment as a group - our first international pass with an attendee from Tokyo.

I was giddy. I unlocked the challenge for meeting someone from another country and I learned a little something about a stranger. It was fascinating to me. Over the course of the convention, I would Street Pass with more people from Tokyo, a few Aussies, a collection of folks from all over Canada, and a few parts of the UK. I even passed someone from New Guinea. This was all on top of collecting passes from other U.S. states. I became obsessed with filling in the map. When my wife collected Alaska and I found out my 3DS had missed them, I was legitimately bummed out. I really wanted to meet these people.

I believe Street Passing was a strong motivator that pushed me to be more social at PAX. It was only reinforced by strangers asking me how many passes I had collected that day or what countries and states I had collected. Did I have all of my puzzle pieces? I did, all 345. Had I beaten Find Mii? Of course, but now I needed some powerful Miis for Find Mii II.

I also noticed Street Passing seemed to make us all take notice of people around us - no, really. Even with our eyes so often fixated on the glow of our 3DS' dual screens, PAX attendees seemed to take a real interest in matching Miis to real faces. When I passed someone for a second or third time I would look around for old faces. This worked more than you might imagine. When I thought I was a minority, I was surprised when strangers approached me to ask what my Mii's nickname was.

You may never see more 3DSs in one place than you will at PAX East or PAX Prime. I collected over 800 Street Passes and over 777 Miis (unlocked the 777 challenge). I'm still missing Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, North Dakota, Ireland, and 99% of Japan - and everywhere else. Even with all of the rad stuff I saw at PAX, I can honestly say I will remember Street Passing as being an integral part of my PAX experience.

Perhaps you, too, may now understand why people get excited about Street Pass. I do not speak for everyone, but it is a unique thing that can, if you let it, be very special.

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