Twitter and Facebook don’t start riots, people do

Steve Dinneen
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IT’S happening. The robots have made their first move. It’s only a matter of time until we’re demoted to the role of giant human udders, the very marrow being milked from our bones to feed the ceaseless hunger of the machines. Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) have turned on us like virtual Frankenstein’s monsters, intent on watching the world burn.

And they are smart. They are making us fight amongst ourselves, softening us up, before they make their final attack. Rioters are getting high on Tweets and razing double decker busses. They are uploading videos of themselves nicking shoes out of Foot Locker and setting fire to panda cars. Youths are organising clandestine meetings in the display cabinets of jewelery stores through BBM. Street fighters are being recruited on Facebook. This revolution isn’t just televised, it’s being recorded on the internet in real-time.

Of course, this communication could just as easily be scrawled on the wall of a public toilet, yelled through a loud-hailer or left on an intricate series of post-it notes (nobody blamed the simple telephone last time Londoners took to the streets). But why let that get in the way of a good story?

I’m certainly not. Last night, I spent so long reading inflammatory Facebook messages that instead of letting myself into my flat through the front door, I kicked my way through the living room window and ran off with my flatscreen TV (I later got £30 for it down the local boozer, which I’m going to put towards a replacement).

Trust me, it’s time to panic. MPs have already pointed their finger at social media and police are threatening to arrest anyone inciting violence through 140 character messages (and don’t think for a second you can trust your smartphone: BlackBerry-maker RIM is already working with the police). The only winner out of all this is the machines. I just hope hackers at LulzSec manage to permanently delete the internet before it gets any worse.

And it could be worse. You could be the President of Nintendo. This time last year Satoru Iwata was the saviour of the company, the man who launched the Wii on an unsuspecting world. What a difference a year makes. Nintendo slumped to its first ever quarterly loss last month and its 3DS console is struggling to convince people to stop playing games on their phones. People are saying this could be the beginning of an inexorable decline for the gaming giant.

So this Christmas’ games releases take on an even greater significance than usual. Last month I got a chance to road-test its upcoming line-up, starting with Luigi's Mansion 2. It’s a curate’s egg of a game, continuing its predecessor’s intriguing vacuum cleaner-based puzzle formula. However, the enjoyment is somewhat squashed by the baffling lack of a jump button. Jumping is what Luigi does. That’s his thing. I want to make him jump.

While the people at Nintendo assure me Luigi's Mansion is getting rave reviews, the real test will be Mario 3DS. And the first game on the platform to feature the eponymous plumber feels every bit as good as its predecessors. Gone is the open sprawl of Mario’s recent adventures – this is an arcade classic rendered in stunning 3D. The four levels on the demo I played, including a boss battle with Bowser, suggest this will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Mario classics.

Less inspiring was Starfox 3DS. It seemed like such an obvious conversion to the 3DS that I was surprised it wasn’t featured as a launch title (being overlooked in favour of Pilot Wings). As a teenager in the 1990s, I loved Starfox. The problem with this version is, unlike Mario, it seems like the same old game with updated graphics; fun in a nostalgic way but with no obvious draw for new players. Which didn’t bode well for the upcoming Mario Kart 3DS. Thankfully, it was every bit as good as I’d hoped. The levels are new, the weapons are updated – but the thrill of smashing Toad with a red shell on the last lap hasn’t aged a day. Roll on November.