What does Amiibo Mean?

Nintendo Likes its Symbolic Names

There is no official statement on the actual meaning of this new “concept,” but whether it means amigo, as in “friend” in Spanish, or amoeba, as in the biological shapeshifter preceding all living organisms, it seems to cover both of those fields and everything in between.  It’s your virtual friend come to life in the most physical and tangible form possible, and when transposed to the big screen it’s able to to take on different forms depending on the game it has just hopped into.  When you look at the scope of what gaming is you have to zoom out in order to realize that the present is really the edge of what gaming has been able to evolve into so far.  From physical sport, acting as actual players within an arena, we have used virtual technology to make this a mental/non-physical sport where we are only symbolically within an arena via character “placeholders,” looking at the action from a third-person perspective (that’s you on the couch looking at the tv buddy!).  This abridged version of gaming history is important because it sheds light on the careful backstep that is Amiibo.


Amiibo, although it obviously has plenty of virtual implications, is above all else a physical entity.  That’s what specifically distinguishes it from the current concept of a game, where cartridges, disks, and their manuals, are no longer given a second-thought.  Everything is in the light-box, and in fact it ought to be because that’s why we’re gaming dammit!  In the virtual world the sky is the limit and we don’t know what could happen next, but in the physical world we know exactly what we get; it’s right in front of us, completely naked, bearing all, and it’s not gonna change.  Your Teddy Bear isn’t going to morph into a dragon or start shooting lasers much less jump out of the way of one.  Unfortunately, that’s what makes the physical world, or shall I say, real world, kind of boring…you know what you’re getting so where’s the surprise?  Actually I don’t really think there is any disputing that.  The physical world is boring, but it has one redeeming factor.  It’s REAL.  Well, duh, but dammit, Bowser in real life is a hell of a lot more exciting than Bowser on a two-dimensional screen.  Not only can you experience it’s physical presence through touch and sight, but because it’s in the real world you can share it with others who can feel and see it as well.  A virtual placeholder is just on the tv, but a physical one is a token of your personality that represents you everywhere it goes.  And that’s just what Amiibo does.


It’s a physical placeholder that will be different from your friends, and in the case that you both are Samus Aran lovers, when transported into the game itself, her past virtual experiences, like fighting history in Smash Bros., will shine through.  Not to mention that more versions of Amiibo are planning to be released coinciding with different games, meaning that there could very well be different versions of Mario besides the current flame-throwing Smash Bros. one we have now.  Getting back on track, Amiibo brings back the redeeming features of the real world into gaming.  That physical link helps confirm the efficacy of the virtual imprint your character makes on the tv.  When gaming first stormed into the living room with the NES the virtual world was fresh and very relevant.  But 20 years down the line, virtual reality has become mainstream, and superflous with far less romantic applications like stereoscopic wallpaper, animated emoticons, and the endless realm of superficially shallow iphone games from Angry Birds, to Candy Crush, to Flappy Bird.  The virtual world, once the most desired apex of the future, is really more trite and worn out than ever.

 Amiibo.Hand.1 WiiMote.Hand.1

A reboot is much in order, and Amiibo is trying to repair the bridge that once existed between imagination and a sense of real impact.  Those two worlds, the imaginary one and the real one, are now farther apart than ever and perhaps that has been the true culprit behind the industry’s, shall I say, impressive decline.  Let’s not forget that Nintendo is looking to reclaim it’s success prior to the Wii U, and it may be no coincidence that the tangibility of Amiibo parallels the tangibility of the original Wii-mote; something player’s can really grasp, but isn’t just a computer with buttons like a tradition controller, but in your mind was either a sword, tennis racket, a golf club, or a frying pan.  Do you see the connection to the Wii as well?  Nintendo may very well leave us in the dark as to the literal meaning of Amiibo just as they did with Wii by leaving the name to speak for itself.  And perhaps, Amiibo stands on its own just as well.  In either case, what is Amiibo to you?

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About The Author

News Reporter

I'm an EarthBound kinda guy but I love everything Mario and certainly anything Nintendo related. I was born in North America and live there presently.