Nintendo details Wii U GamePad, Miiverse social network

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Nintendo president Satoru Iwata posted a pre-E3 video on the company’s website that gives viewers an idea of what to expect at this year’s gaming conference. Specifically, Iwata used his time to detail the Wii U GamePad and the Miiverse social network just days before a planned E3 keynote in Los Angeles.

Nintendo went with the name “GamePad” as a throwback to the original Nintendo controller from the 1980s. At the time, the flat directional pad was a new system over the more commonly used joystick so gamers nicknamed it a gamepad.

The Wii U GamePad will feature a 6.2-inch touchscreen display but unlike the prototype previously shown, the shipping model will feature thumbsticks that are further away from the display as well as a modified rear grip. This was done to improve comfort when playing for long periods of time. There’s also now an NFC reader / writer under the left directional pad as well as a button that allows the user to use the GamePad as a television remote.

Miiverse can be described as Nintendo’s entrance into the world of social gaming. Characters are represented on screen as Mii avatars with the ability to communicate in real-time with others players using the GamePad. Nintendo will eventually link the network to the 3DS, PCs and smartphones.

The idea seems like a long time coming for Nintendo but surely they must realize the waters they are swimming into. For example, if anyone has ever played a game over Xbox Live, you know what kind of nonsense to expect from immature players on the other end of the microphone. This could potentially do damage to Nintendo’s family-friendly reputation.

We can expect to hear more about Nintendo’s upcoming projects on Tuesday morning during their keynote at E3.

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