Hey, Nintendo... kids can still look at boobs on 3DS without Swapnote

Swapnote: 2011-2013

Right now--like, literally right as I write this--there's a picture on my 3DS of a naked woman. I think she might be a model, since she's quite attractive, and the image looks to be professionally shot against a well-lit background. I really can't be sure, though; there's no way to tell. She's definitely naked, though; boobs and all. Her legs are crossed and the image is a little low res (I clicked on the first one I saw), so I don't have a great view of her vagina, but I'm pretty sure it's there, too.

So, yeah, that's on my 3DS right now. If I hit back, go to Google, delete my search for "Naked woman" and replace it with "Penis" (which I'm going to do, for the sake of journalism), I'm met with a slew of erect, veiny cocks. Like, it's a god damn forest of wang on my 3DS's top screen right now. Some are big, some are small, but they're all definitely dicks. It's a good thing internet images aren't in 3D, or else I'd have my eye poked out by now.

I'm not doing this for fun--if I wanted to look at sexy images I have damn near a dozen or so devices within arms reach that do a better job of it. No, I'm doing it because I wanted to see if it would work. The most disturbing thing I could find, though, would come by going to Nintendo's website for Swapnote. There, I'd find something more offensive than all of the dicks, boobs, and niche dwarf-porn in the world: remarkable ignorance.

It's there that I'd find a notice from Nintendo explaining that it would be suspending support for Swapnote, the free 3DS program that allows... sorry, allowed you to send and receive quick doodles with friends. Released in December of 2011, the Nintendo-made program was the closest thing the 3DS had to a messaging service. Sure, it lagged behind the Vita's ability to easily converse with friends, but it included that trademark Nintendo charm. Your friends' notes would literally draw out on the screen like they drew them in real time, coming to life in 3D. It was updated with new stationery and features over time, and while I didn't use it consistently, I'd occasionally find myself jumping back in to read over old notes and send some new ones every few months.

When I'd load it up, I'd always find some new messages from my friends from all around the country. Some would blast out holiday cards using it, complete with photographs of their family and fun sound effects. Others would simply share jokes. When I was away from home, my wife and I would send messages to each other and open them before bed. It was nice--it made the distance feel like less of a hurdle.

Other people drew penises. This shouldn't come as a surprise; give someone the means to draw something and there's a good chance it'll have a pair of sagging balls attached to it. That's just how the world works, for whatever reason. People will use whatever means they have to be lewd. You know that, I know that, but--apparently--Nintendo wasn't aware.

And because of that, Swapnote as we know it is dead. Nintendo pulled the plug today, cutting off the online portion of the messaging system. Now, you can only send people Swapnotes if you're close enough to stick an actual post-it note onto their 3DS. According to the Swapnote website, "Nintendo has learned that some consumers, including minors, have been exchanging their friend codes on Internet bulletin boards and then using Swapnote (known as Nintendo Letter Box in other regions) to exchange offensive material."

Nintendo always lagged behind the competition when it came to embracing the new, connected world, but it looked like that might be changing. It ditched game-specific Friend Codes, added voice chat to Pokemon, released the first console with day-and-date digital sales, and even started to create social network-style things for the Wii U. Swapnote was a great example of Nintendo actually thinking about how people like to communicate with each other. But there are apparently children in the world, and people of them are (or were) using the service that Nintendo supplied in a way Nintendo didn't want (but had to have known would happen) so now we all lose it.

Why stop at Swapnote? Why not hit the web browser next, removing it from the Wii U and the 3DS. Netflix has to go, too, since a child could always watch a movie with naked people in it. The YouTube app on the Wii U? Gone, obviously, since you're only a few seconds away from watching racist rants or acts of extreme violence. The Miiverse would have to go, as would every other online-connected system. Each of these tools give you near instant access to "offensive material," and it's all a lot simpler than swapping Friend Codes on forums to see a picture of a boob. Because, after all, the children.

So, Swapnote is essentially dead. Thanks Nintendo. And yet, if I open my 3DS, those pictures of dicks are still there. The more pages I scroll through, the more dicks I'll see. It could go on forever...

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