Wii U Miiverse: Nintendo takes on Facebook

Nintendo has detailed more about the company's Wii U console ahead of its E3 press conference in Los Angeles. The company plans to let you stay in touch with your friends around the globe as you play, effectively creating a social gaming network and potentially taking on Facebook in the process. 

Dubbed Miiverse, the concept is that rather than a standard menu of games and pictures there is something called the Miiverse Plaza. It shows the games you are playing, games other members of your family are playing, then games your friends are playing - even if you don't own them. It will also highlight games you do own that others on the network are playing.

Nintendo discribes this chaos as "Mii Wara Wara" after the Japanese term that describes the noise the flash-mob style meet-ups make.

Where the service could most come in handy is when you get stuck on a game. Nintendo showed a video demo in which a gamer turned to the crowd to get help. After reading a stack of messages on his Nintendo Wii U Gamepad he then called them by docking the controller near his TV and had a chat - a scary thought.

If you prefer just to silently communicate with others, you'll be able to use an on-screen keyboard or the stylus to write notes to each other.

Miiverse will be compatible with all Wii U games and even work within them. Nintendo will also allow access to the Miiverse through Nintendo 3DS, as well as offering support for web access, so you can chat to your gaming buddies when bored on the train on the way home. However, that feature hasn't as yet been dated.