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Player Data Sharing
Shadow Link data will be exchanged if you encounter other players who also have StreetPass activated for this software on their systems. Other players' data will appear as Shadow Link characters somewhere in your game. Talk to a Shadow Link character and you'll be able to challenge him to a battle!

This trope lies in between a single player and multiplayer game. Rather than allowing players to compete or cooperate directly, the game uses a system where another player's game data is used to influence the game. This can range from trading items and equipment between players (or characters; this is a mainstay of mons series) to outright having a customisable Player Character cameoing as an NPC.

While this was possible on older games (the ability to share saves on a PC game has always been a given), online games (and improvements in technology which allow for easier localised data sharing) have made this much more popular. It's especially attractive to a developer who wants to add online features without ending up with a Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode or needs a means of linking One Game for the Price of Two.

Games in the Roguelike genre often have a feature called "bones" files, which store the saves of dead characters so their grave (and/or angry ghost) can make an appearance. Another variation is an odd sort of Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer where only the host plays normally, and everyone else simply helps or hinders them indirectly (e.g. by being able to attack them or fight with them with the limitations of an NPC, or simply observing) while keeping their single player campaigns separate.

Compare Previous Player-Character Cameo, Meta Multiplayer (where players are still able to compete in a single player game) and Old Save Bonus (when a player can import data from one game to another). Can be a Socialization Bonus.

Examples:

Action/Adventure
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has a feature where the streetpassnote  loads other players' profiles. These players can be fought as Shadow Links for an amount of money based on their difficulty (players can customise their Link's equipment and make battles with their shadow as easy or hard as they like).
  • God Eater Burst features "Avatar Cards" which you can exchange with other players, allowing them to use your Player Character as a NPC teammate and vice versa. The character's equipment is dependent on what the character had on his/her person when the card was given. The sequel improves on this by letting you edit the cards' equipment before giving them away.
  • Subverted in Journey: The glowing symbols that can be seen floating above the environments look like previous players' souls/symbols returning to the beginning from the top of the mountain, as happens to your own at the end of the game, especially since other players can actually accompany you if you play online, but careful observation reveals that those symbols are always the same and are essentially static features of the respective levels.

Edutainment
  • Some versions of The Oregon Trail (for example, the Windows 95 version) allow you to encounter the tombstones of player characters that didn't make it to Oregon.

Racing
  • The Mario Kart games have allowed players to share Ghost data for Time Trials since Super Circuit, although it wasn't until Wii that players could do so over the internet rather than in person.

Roguelike
  • NetHack's bones files allow you to loot the dead character in question's corpse. Just remember that the cause of their death still tends to be around.
  • The roguelike Omega allowed high-scoring player characters to achieve certain positions, such as becoming head of the various guilds, or Duke of Rampart. The relevant nonplayer characters would then be renamed after the ranking players in successive games. On a single-player system this became somewhat confusing, since all the NPCs would end up with your own name.

RPG
  • The Pokémon series was built on the idea of players being able to trade their mons between each other. Each iteration of the game even comes in multiple versions, with exclusive Pokemon, to encourage trading.
  • The online component of Dark Souls (and to a lesser degree, its predecessor Demons Souls) allows players to leave each other notes and also leaves blood stains to show where other players have died. There is also a more direct co-op element, which allows players to join one another's games during boss fights or "invade" their game and kill them.
  • Persona 4: Golden added a feature (to take advantage of the PS Vita's wifi/3G capabilities) where the player could call for help while in dungeons and gets healed based on the number of players who respond. The game also lets players write a short message (from a few specific phrases, presumably so they could be easily translated and avoid griefing), which is stored in anyone they aid's log.
  • In Dragon's Dogma, your pawn (a fully customizable follower of your character) can be used by anyone in the pawn community. While with another player, your pawn will gain gifts from the other player, rift crystals, and quest experience from the quests they went on while away. You can also hire other's pawns and have them travel with you on your quests.

Sandbox
  • Watch_Dogs allows players to "hack" into other players' single-player campaigns to gain additional resources. In-game, the player being hacked experiences it as Pearce being tracked by hostile surveillance cameras.

Simulation
  • Every game in the Creatures series has allowed players to save and share Norns with one another.
  • In Spore, all of the creatures, spaceships and other content a given player generates can be uploaded to "Sporepedia" and downloaded into another player's game. The result being that Sporepedia has well over 100,000 times the amount of content the game had when it shipped. The creators of the game referred to it as a "massively single-player" game for this reason.
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf has this in two flavors. First, using the 3DS' StreetPass system to find other New Leaf players allows you to access a model of their home in the Happy Home Academy Showcase, which you can go to and buy furniture you like (albeit at a steep markup). Second, the Dream Suite allows you to access dream versions of other players' towns over the Internet. Since it's All Just a Dream, you can't take any items with you, but you can get new patterns by talking to Wendell in the dream.

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