Iwata Asks: Miiverse Penis Drawing Detection Took Weeks to Develop
In a recent Iwata Asks interview about the Wii U Miiverse social network, director Yoshiomi Kurisu and his team discuss how difficult it was to create auto-detection of penis drawings.
The following excerpt discusses the difficulties behind malicious drawers in the Miiverse:
Iwata: I agree. The unique feature of the Miiverse is being able to send drawings, not just text. But since the advent of the internet, there have always been those who have used it for unsavory purposes.
Kurisu: Right, auto-detection of bad words is very simple.
Iwata: Yes, text messages may be easy to moderate; however, drawings are much more difficult.
Yuzawa: (laughs) I think I know where this is going.
Kurisu: Let us get this out of the way then. (laughs) We anticipated that some users would draw…
Kato: Can we even say the word?
Iwata: Go ahead. (laughs)
Kurisu: Ahem, uh. Some users would take to drawing penises.
Kurisu: Well, it’s true. It seems to be more of a phenomenon found in the west.
Motoyama: Yes, we never had such a problem with our Hatena services. But, when we brought Hatena Flipnote to the West, we were caught off-guard by the amount of penises drawn by people.
Kurisu: So the team and I had to come up with a way to create a system that auto-detects those types of pictures.
Kato: Kurisu-san suggested we study different types of penises in order to create figure out the relative shape and size people would draw. We spent a week doing that before we realized that we should have been looking at drawings of penises rather than real-life pictures. (laughs) We were very embarrassed about that.
Kurisu: My judgement on these types of situations is poor. (laughs)
Motoyama: After a week, we made very good progress on the system. Then we tested the system with Nintendo of America and told them to start drawing. It went horribly.
Kurisu: What we learned is that people enjoy drawing penises. Multiple ones. (laughs) The system was not prepared to handle that.
Iwata: I do not think your team anticipated how difficult this would get!
Kurisu: No. (laughs)
Yuzawa: I was disheartened myself. We spent a few more weeks trying to get a system working.
Motoyama: Nintendo of America really took the system to its limits.
Yuzawa: You know what surprised me. No one drew a single vagina.
Iwata: So, in the end, it all worked out?
Kurisu: Yes, we can safely say that we have a very good system to detect penis drawings. Hopefully player’s Miiverse experiences will be a fun one!
According to a survey of Wii U users, around 20% of drawings encountered through the Miiverse include one or more penises.