While I loved my time with Splatoon 3 during my pre-release time with it, something was missing from the experience. Nintendo asked reviewers testing the game during the few days where servers were up to not create in-game messages, the social staple of the series. That meant that the streets of Inkopolis were a little quiet during my stay, with no posts popping up over players’ heads. I couldn’t wait to see how much fans would liven the place up once the game officially launched.
They did not disappoint.
Less than a day in, Splatoon 3 is already thriving as a social space. New players are bringing out the big guns as they fill the game with hilarious and utterly unhinged posts that have me logging in just to browse through more. If you’re looking for the next great social media platform, it’s Splatoon 3.
If you’re new to Splatoon, the series may not seem like it’s well equipped for social interaction. The game doesn’t have any voice chat and players can mostly only communicate in matches by shouting “Boo-yah!” When you’re walking around the game’s hub world, you’re not interacting with live players either. Ghost data populates the world, as friends and players you’ve encountered become NPCs that sit around.
That may feel classically Nintendo in how behind the times it is, but there’s a key communication tool in Splatoon 3. Like previous games, players can create rectangular messages that’ll display over their avatar’s head when they populate someone else’s lobby. Sometimes, messages will even appear as graffiti on walls. It’s a holdover from both games’ Wii U origins, as players could use the gamepad to draw messages and Nintendo’s Miiverse for social experiments.
Walking through the streets of Inkopolis is essentially like scrolling through a self-contained social media site filled with posts. It’s an un-curated revolving door of absurd jokes and memes that are often hysterical. Log in today and you’ll find an eclectic assortment of posts, ranging from Among Us references to goofs about Queen Elizabeth II’s recent passing.
“Queen is temporary, Splatoon is forever,” read one post I ran into.
What’s always been incredible about Splatoon is the way a community forms in a game with incredibly limited communication tools. It’s not like every Splatoon player is huddled up on a subreddit coordinating what everyone’s going to post about in any given week. Humor in the Splatoon universe is an organic, iterative process where players simply see something funny and riff on it accordingly. The series has its own secret language of memes, and its creation is still one of gaming’s most special community stories.
It’s not just a space for jokes. Some players use the post feature to create legitimately cool fan art within the limitations of the system. Others are already using it to make the game a haven for queer and trans folks, throwing messages of support out into the void. “Shout out to trans people,” one post I encountered succinctly states alongside a drawing of an Octoling offering a fist bump. Just about the only thing you won’t find in Splatoon 3 is heated discourse. There’s no real way to achieve that, turning the Switch game into an ideal social platform.
What I especially love about Splatoon’s approach to messages is that there’s no real validation attached to it. Players aren’t in it for likes, as there aren’t really any resharing or reaction tools outside of a “Fresh” button. They’re simply doing it for the love of the game and community. Compared to actual social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok that thrive on the mental mind games that come with the engagement chase, a Splatoon 3 lobby might be the healthiest social media you could engage with right now.
On the game’s launch weekend, I salute the selfless posters who are simply in it to make Inkopolis feel alive and weird. Even if the threequel doesn’t bring many new changes to the series, I’m happy that it already feels like home again.
Splatoon 3 is out now on Nintendo Switch.
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