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Why the Check Mii Out Channel is a complete sham

Brandon Erickson's picture

Jack Black Mii Montage

With the recent release of the Check Mii Out Channel (or Mii Contest Channel), I thought it might be a good time to voice some of my criticisms of the new channel and of the prospect of holding Mii contests in general. To get right to the point, the Check Mii Out Channel—both as a vehicle for hosting Mii contests and as a forum for recognizing talented Mii artists—is fundamentally useless and doomed to failure. In short, this latest Wii channel is too little, too late. Here's why.

Soon after the Wii’s release in November of 2006, a handful of talented users latched onto the Mii-creation system and spent countless hours perfecting Miis made to resemble friends, family, and celebrities. As photos of these celebrity Miis made their way to places like MiiPlaza.net, other Wii users naturally wanted to have these characters for themselves. This is completely understandable. Mii making can be somewhat intimidating; it’s much easier to simply borrow someone else’s Mii than to try and design one from scratch.

Unfortunately, Nintendo adopted a ridiculously complicated friend system. In order to send or receive Miis, players first had to exchange their 16-digit Wii console code numbers and go through a tedious and laborious process of adding said codes to their Wii address books. Even if a player went through the lengthy ordeal of filling the 100 available address slots, it would still only be possible to send Miis to a maximum of 100 people. Oh yeah, and users could only send 20 Miis per day.

As a result, artists (myself included) resorted to posting pictures to allow others to replicate their designs, thus initiating a process that has all but destroyed any chance of holding a fair Mii contest. Case in point, within one week of posting my original celebrity Mii designs I received thousands of visitors. Based on its overwhelming popularity, I submitted my Jack Black Mii to the first celebrity Mii contest (hosted by kottke.org). Unfortunately, a copycat also submitted the same design, leading the organizer to nearly disqualify us both.

Since then, the situation has only continued to deteriorate. Many of my Mii designs (and those of many other artists) have been so rampantly copied and recopied that it would be impossible for the average user to trace their origins. On Sunday, I visited the Check Mii Out Channel and submitted some Miis. I noticed that a copy of my Jack Black Mii was ranked first. I pushed the "call friends" button to find other Jack Blacks. Fifty clones appeared (there may be more, but the system can only show fifty), none of which were the one I submitted.

Further exploration of the Check Mii Out Channel revealed a list ranking the top 100 “Mii Artisans," to use Nintendo's terminology. Looking over the submissions of several of these “artisans” revealed that a large proportion of their Miis were exact or nearly-exact copies of designs created by other artists, mostly from MiiPlaza.net. It’s too bad that these copycats don’t seem to have any problem stealing other people's work and shamelessly passing it off as their own. What’s lacking here is a firm sense of Mii ethics.

The sad thing is that this could have all been avoided if Nintendo had provided some of the services contained in the Check Mii Out Channel from the beginning. The old system for sending and receiving Miis preserved the identity of the original creator in that any Miis received from another user are tagged with that user’s name and are un-editable. But since Nintendo made it so absurdly difficult to send Miis, this feature turned out to be of little use. Players found it easier to just copy the Miis from pictures and tutorials.

Now that it's here, the Check Mii Out Channel provides a relatively easy way for Wii owners to distribute Miis. It's just too bad it's showing up so late. If this service had been around from the start, then artists could have posted their original Mii characters right away, leaving little question as to who is the real creator of a particular design. But now that most of the best Mii designs out there have been copied and recopied thousands of times, the damage has already been done. Not only that, but there's probably no concievable way to fix things.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In that sense, I suppose I should be extremely flattered to see several copies of my work sitting in the list of top fifty worldwide Miis on the Check Mii Out Channel. Maybe I should be flattered. But at the end of the day, I’m mostly just irritated. Nintendo finally has a Mii contest channel that claims to rank the top “Mii Artisans.” But with the rampant Mii plagiarism that has taken place over the past year, the Check Mii Out Channel was doomed to be a sham before it was even released.

Anyone who believes that Mii artists deserve to be credited for their work should visit MiiPlaza.net to confirm whether or not the Miis that he or she has favorited on the Check Mii Out Channel were actually submitted by the original artist. If Nintendo's new channel is to have any hope of holding fair contests and supporting and encouraging the creativity of talented Mii artists, then it will only be through the willingness of Wii owners to support those artists by favoriting their Miis. Here's a list of Mii codes to help people get started.

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MiiPlaza.net is full of copycats as well.

I agree with what you're saying, but frankly, MiiPlaza has its own share of copycatting. For example, my original "Zombii" design, which I originally posted right here, has numerous copycats on MiiPlaza.

Unfortunately, there really isn't much honor among Miieves.

By the way, if anyone likes

By the way, if anyone likes the zombie and wants to throw some love to the original, it's 8411-5871-9595.


Hello fellow Mii artists. This is Josean, Mii artist and moderator at MiiPlaza.net. I would like to thank you Brandon for such a spot-on article. It's sad to see how many of us are being victims of this channel. When I first logged in to the CMO Channel, I saw my Chicken Little Mii by a guy named Pu on the Top Miis. First of all, it was obvious that it was a plain copy of my Mii because Chicken Little has green glasses, it was me who decided to make the Mii with red glasses. It's pathetic, because the guy who posted the Chicken Little Mii did not even bother to see if the Mii was correctly done, he simply saw it, liked it, copied it and took credit.

BTW, Andy, there may be copies of different Miis on MiiPlaza.net but you'll never see the site giving credit to a copy. MiiPlaza.net will always give the due credit.

Re: Josean

Thanks Josean. Trouble is, the original post was on a different site. Maybe I should go post it on MiiPlaza now.

Not to rain on anybody's

Not to rain on anybody's parade here, but the whole system of creating Miis is so sadly limited and basic, i find it hard to get excited/angry about much that's Mii-related. compared to other create-a-character functions included in a multitude of games, creating Miis is only slightly more complex than putting together lego characters. For any kind of "contest" to take place, they'd have to completely revamp and deepen the options for creation in addition to ensuring the originality/uniqueness of the creations. even still, anybody can look at anybody else's and copy it anyway, so it seems to be a wash regardless.

Re: Brad

Brad, the Mii design tools are deeper than they first appear.

Other similar programs might have a more comprehensive set of features to choose from, and less caricature-oriented...but I would argue that the large, bold, exaggerated nature of Mii features makes them far more striking than a "realistic" avatar, when you manage to truly capture a person.

Yes, that may be true, but

Yes, that may be true, but my point is that the raw number of options overall is much smaller than most comparable creation programs. not only is it easier to simply visually copy another design, it seems more likely that unintentional clones (or just unabashed idea-stealing) will happen due to the limited, finite nature of creating Miis.

Brad Gallaway wrote: Yes,

Brad Gallaway wrote:

Yes, that may be true, but my point is that the raw number of options overall is much smaller than most comparable creation programs. not only is it easier to simply visually copy another design, it seems more likely that unintentional clones (or just unabashed idea-stealing) will happen due to the limited, finite nature of creating Miis.

I think this is a common misconception about what goes into making a good Mii. It's the idea that it's just this automatic process that just happens in a predestined way due to the "limited" tools. I think that in the case of certain characters that are very basic, like Charlie Brown, it is conceivable that two people could independently come up with nearly identical Miis. But in most cases, I think it's not very likely to say the least.

The Mii creation tools may seem limited. But in reality, the number of possible combinations is virtual limitless. I won't do the math, but I'm sure the number of permutations would come to some astronomical number. At any rate, although you might think that making a Mii to resemble a particular person is a simple uncreative process, that's really not the case. I'd be happy to take you on a guided tour of MiiPlaza.net sometime to help illustrate what I'm talking about with examples.

Have you considered that you

Have you considered that you just might not be as clever as you think you are? It's not that much of a stretch that someone else could have made a similar Jack Black Mii independently of you.

I thought my Mii of Walter from the Big Lebowski was pretty sweet at the time, but the Check Mii Out channel tells me that at least fifteen other people had the exact same idea.

I could see if they were going to give a prize or something

If its just for like bragging rights, then who the hell cares, I myself made a Jack Black Mii better than yours and was told so by several people....get over yourself and stop whining

Re: Anonymous

Anonymous, it's usually far easier to tell a copycat than you think it is.

Example: when I made the zombie I put a big black spot on the side of his forehead. I wasn't even really sure why -- I thought maybe it was a spot of decay or even a bullet hole -- but every zombie I've seen out there has that spot in the exact same place. There's no way someone else just decided to do that on their own: something like that is hardly a defining characteristic of a zombie. I was just being silly putting it there.

It's the same thing with the Jack Black Mii. There are so many different permutations of features and ways in which you can resize them, rotate them, and reposition them that it's highly unlikely a bunch of other people just happened to do it in exactly the same way.

My favorite part is where

My favorite part is where you refer to Miis as "art" and to yourself as an "artisan". My other favorite part is where you pretend you aren't a whiny vagina face. Please shut up.

There's no such thing as

There's no such thing as "Mii ethics". There's people's ethics, at most. And you really shouldn't be so upset about it to the point of writing an article this long, it denotes a semi-empty life, if I may say so.

Other than that it was an insighful and well written article. Congrats. Just cheer up a little. It's all fun and games at the end of the day.


Are you f*cking kidding me?

Seriously? You're complaining that people copy your Mii designs?

Geez. This is the single dumbest thing I've read all week. No, all month. It's a stupid Mii! It's not some kind of painting or song or article or story or something. The people who copied your Mii (or simply ended up with one that looks similar to yours - it's not hard, tons of my friends have made Michael Jackson Miis or Saddam Miis or Hitler Miis independently of each other, and they all pretty much look the same; there aren't that many Mii options) don't get anything for their place in the Channel. The fact that they scored highly with the designs doesn't take anything away from you. Stop being so anal about it and let people have fun.

A sham? Mii artists? Give me a break. It's just a stupid Wii Channel, not some kind of art gallery.

Wait, I get it. This post isn't serious; it's a clever parody of all the whining on the Internet about the most idiotic topics. Right? Right?

I agree with you 100%

I agree with you 100% Nintendo should find a way of filtering all these clones. Then give real Mii artists a chance to display their work on the channel, instead of all of these copies.

It is just plain sad to the Nintendo own Mii tutorials to show up as top 50

Wow..."artist" is being

Wow..."artist" is being thrown around really loosely here.

And since you're so certain that the universe should align itself to protect "your" "unique" "art", I assume you're paying Jack Black some kind of risidual payment for the constant use of his likeness?

a "complete" sham? "fundamentally" useless?

Such amazing hyperbole you spout! Perhaps you should reserve such broad judgement until several contests have passed. You can't say it's a complete sham when it's possible that the contest parameters may define a Mii type that nobody has yet designed. For example, "A cross between a platypus and a giraffe." Or how about "the offspring of Angelina Jolie and a carrot."

Also, calling a Mii browser fundamentally useless is like calling an editorial fundamentally useless. Does an editorial become complete crap just because you disagree with one point of it? Just because the software has one major feature that you disagree with does not mean the rest of the software is as flawed. From your point of view, the flaw in Mii contest judgement breaks the software, but in my experience, most people I know who have used the channel were excited about mainly because they can view and download all sorts of Miis that they have never had time to create. They're not interested in creating Miis for contests, but they are interested in viewing and collecting Miis. Certainly the software is not broken, from their point of view.

You know what's actually fundamentally useless? Whining about people copying work that is itself derived from a copy of a celebrity's face, especially in a system that has a limited number of parameters. Did you ask permission from Jack Black to copy his face? No? And are you sure the "similar" Miis are copies, rather than Miis of other people? That Mii you're displaying in the picture looks more like my neighbor Samuel than Jack Black.


I assume you got full permission from Mr. Black to use and post his image?

Now that I've read your

Now that I've read your poorly written drivel, it's time for others to read mine.

You call yourself an artist... designing a Mii that doesn't really even look like Jack Black isn't art. You want art? Go to the Louvre, you'll see plenty of it. Don't consider yourself something you're not, JUST because you can make use of a bunch of precreated content and paste it together to make what you think looks like a famous person.

Tempest in a teapot.

Tempest in a teapot.

Well, I'll be!

I just got an email from a friend pointing me to this blog posting. He said I'd find it "very interesting". And he was right.

My story:

When the Wii first launched a year ago, a bunch of us lucked out and got them. My friends and I all had a contest amongst ourselves to make celebrity Miis. I was into Tenacious D at the time, so naturally I worked long and hard to create a convincing Jack Black.

The Jack Black I made that first day proved popular with my friends. While I never posted it on a website, I know it made the rounds as it was sent around from Wii to Wii.

Eventually I got bored with the console and sold it, but apparently Jack lived on. How do I know? That's MY original Jack Black Mii pictured at the top of this blog posting!


Ace Attorney wrote: I

Ace Attorney wrote:

I assume you got full permission from Mr. Black to use and post his image?

All you people who think you need a celebrities permission to use their likeness to make a characature of them (Mii)really need to to look up parody and fair use laws.

It is perfectly legal to satirize, parody, and otherwise make use of public figures (celebrities, politicians, etc).

In other words, anyone can freely make a Mii of Jack Black,Paris Hilton, George Bush, or any other idiot that they want. You dont need those peoples 'permission'.

Anonymous wrote: It is

Anonymous wrote:

It is perfectly legal to satirize, parody, and otherwise make use of public figures (celebrities, politicians, etc).

Nobody has said that it isn't legal. We're saying it is hypocritical for the author to whine about how his rendering of a celebrity on a proprietary, shared system should afford him any kind of artistic protection or acknowledgement.


So do people have an editor for any of this...or are they just using the mii creator on the wii? some of them look like they used some kind of editor unless im just not that creative which is probably the case..lol anyways just wondering. thanks ^_^!

LKM wrote: tons of my

LKM wrote:

tons of my friends have made Michael Jackson Miis or Saddam Miis or Hitler Miis independently of each other, and they all pretty much look the same

Hate to tell you this, but that says more about you and your friends, and your collective level of wit and creativity, than it does about the Mii Channel.

This just shows that jerks

This just shows that jerks such as yourself exist in any kind of "art" scene, no matter how insignificant.

You mentioned that you submitted some Miis to Check Mii Out. Complaining about "piracy" at this point, even if it happened outside/before the service, is hypocritical seeing as how you just put your unique little snowflakes into the public domain; part of the release you agree to when submitting a Mii to Check Mii Out says that Nintendo and anyone else can use your "original" creations for any reason whatsoever. What little you must feel of your "creations" by releasing them, no strings attached, for anyone to use. You have no right to play the role of the victim.

Consider also that you may not be as original as you think. My cousin made a Mii that looked very much like "your" Jack Black last Thanksgiving. I suppose he should be flattered that you ripped him off to enter that contest, but at the end of the day, he's mostly probably amused. Why? Because it's an entertainment device. Get over it, and get a life.

boo hoo. cry me a river you

boo hoo. cry me a river you big pussy.

Similar Miis

Yeah, I'm sure you "hate to tell me this." If you really hated to tell me this, you would simply have refrained from insulting me and my friends. I, on the other hand, will not insult you, and do not hate to tell you this: they all look the same because they mimic real-world persons with a limited number of options. Different people are bound to arrive at the same result, given the same goal and a small number of applicable rules.

Geez, you people sure seem cocky...

It's quite egotistical to assume that you people posting on a single webpage were the only ones to come up with the Miis that you did.

Clearly its possible for multiple people to share the idea of creating a zombie Mii or a Jack Black Mii. Both of those subjects are quite popular now and indeed going to explored by multiple Wii owners.

What the new channel provides is an EASY way to share Miis created on your Wii with others in a manner that they cannot edit or copy. Each of the Miis were created by hand, regardless of the inspiration. What you are saying is that Mii-making is an art form (hardly true, but anyway) and that in a comparable situation, someone who can create an identical Mona Lisa is not a talented artist. Both of those statements are mostly untrue.

Anyway, making Miis easily downloadable makes it more appealing to preserve original work than a picture website like Miiplaza. Why? Because Miis can be a lot of work... if you see one you like on Miiplaza you MUST recreate it, or go through some cumbersome methods for downloading. If you see one on Check Me Out, download an uneditable version and its yours, with the artists name.

What I sense here is Miiplaza and similar sites getting nervous about losing their base to a much more secure and entertaining method of posting Miis...

What you SHOULD be complaining about is the initials, the lack of a search, and the lack of being able to check on your own Miis.

Seriously? So only one

Seriously? So only one caricature of one celebrity should be allowed? If two artists do a caricature of the same celebrity, chances are the caricatures are going to have strong similarities.

..and who cares? Getting all bent out of shape about Mii's? Do they give out money rewards for the top 50? Did I miss something?

Just try... TRY to enjoy the new channel, its FREE. If someone rips your design off and posts it and gets to the #1 place, who cares?
Try not to lose any sleep over it.

My feeble attempt at being a voice of reason...

I can see where both sides of this argument are coming from, really. The mii "artisans" have a point, in that, while striving to create a mii that resembles any given person will result in many similarities due to the limitations of the mii design tools, the chances of two (much less hundreds of) people making an identical design independently of each other is quite small. I really find it difficult to believe that the people who submitted the identical miis designed them on their own. But what are you gonna do, right? Some people are that pathetic. They can't accomplish anything on their own, and somehow they manage to delude themselves into thinking that ripping someone else off is just as good.

On the other hand, I have to agree with the others, that creating a mii is hardly art. Matching preset eyes, noses, mouth, etc., in an extremely limited manner, from an extremely limited set, is not something to take great pride in. It doesn't take much talent. If your claim to fame is designing a mii, that's kinda sad.

If You're Gonna Whine COVER YOUR PAPER

Oh come on for christ's sake! Ever heard imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? If you didn't like the thought of your mii's being copied then you should've never shared them with the world, especially the web, in the first place. If you put something where anyone can see it they will steal it, copyrighted or not even. I don't see the celebrities and cartoonists bitching about everyone using their image for use on Mii's.
But entirely aside from that, even if you hadn't posted them where they were seen I had never even searched Mii's on the web prior to the check Mii out channel. I started making Mii's I thought no one else had ever thought to once I'd heard of the 'new' channel though so I compiled a long list (full notebook page) of characters and celebs I was going to make specifically to post. However being a mother of a 2 year old and it being the busiest time of year at that point I was so busy I turned on my Wii about 5 times between then (end Nov. beginning of Dec. somewhere around then) and I turn it on today and browse the Mii's on the CMO channel and what do I find but almost all of my list of Mii's have been made long ago. I was sure that some of the characters on my list would be done long before me because I'd noticed already that everytime I thought of one it was done before me, but I'd no idea that nearly every last one would. Especially ones from shows I'd watched 18 years ago when I was a kid.
So do what my art teacher told me when some kid copied my prized penguin picture and it got hung on the wall, get over it because if they're that much alike then that person was really inspired by your design. I hate artists that are in it for fame, and not for their fans.

I don’t like how the

I don’t like how the channel is set up. You can only the top 50 of any Mii catergory. If you’re not in that top 50, there’s very little chance for people to see your Mii and vote on it.

And people can’t directly submit Miis created by other people, but they could just as easily copy the design and create their own and submit it that way. Probably why so many Miis look almost exactly alike despite the numerous users.

Submited by : Descargar Libros

There's new ideas being

There's new ideas being posted every day. If your work got copied it's really not a big deal because the originals will make it onto the top 50 if they're good.

I Know it took me ages to

I Know it took me ages to set up my friends codes

I agree with ya. but what

I agree with ya. but what kind of ideas do they make. tell me plz!!!

The REAL problem with the Check Mii Out Channel

I agree with you on people's unoriginality, but I also find it necessary to point out that the problem is far worse than that. For a person that likes looking through Miis, seeing the same thing over and over is not preferred, but that's how it is. Not to mention contests. God! If anyone has seen the results for both the "Cheesy Photo Pose" and "Overly-Excited TV Show Contestant" contests, then I don't have to say anything futher about it. Of course, for those who haven't, people tend to submit the same kind of Mii. The one referred to here is the Super Happy Mii, known for its yellow face and wide open mouth. How can contests be considered fair when original creations are pitted against common and popular styles? And that's not all! When I judge for contests, I see Miis that don't fit the theme at all! A person who just had their toe stepped on would NOT be grinning from ear to ear, I can tell you that! People have just lain waste to another potential product of Nintendo.

what you said applies to all

what you said applies to all contests. people just go for the most defining or exemplifying characteristic, or just copy a popular style. i haven't seen ONE contest where this doesn't hold true. they'll use arrows towards a feature or make a related object, usually on the face.

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