Wednesday, May 7, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

Nintendo woes are in abundance. The Wii U continues to sell horribly, reporting lifetimes sales at 6.17 million after roughly 17 months up until their fiscal year ending on March 31st – the Playstation 4 surpassed that at 7 million in just half a year, and Nintendo will enter its second year of bowing out of a E3 press conference and will repeat their strategy from last year (not necessarily woes, however it gives the impression of lacking confidence if not trying to do E3 smarter instead of “harder”). But now, Nintendo has finally addressed the plea for same sex marriages for their upcoming heavily relationship driven 3DS title, Tomodachi Life.

Last week, Tye Marini, a 23 year-old gay male, started a petition called “Miiquality” to champion efforts to convince Nintendo to include gay marriages in Tomodachi Life. I highly encourage you to watch Tye’s “Miiquality” campaign here.

After refuting rumors that they erased the code in the original Japanese release that allowed same sex-marriages, Nintendo released this statement:

Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of 'Tomodachi Life…The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation. We hope that all of our fans will see that 'Tomodachi Life' was intended to be a whimsical and quirky game, and that we were absolutely not trying to provide social commentary."

This is a mess of a statement, indicating that the inclusion of same-sex marriages would be a form of “social commentary”. It further insinuates that in order to be inclusive to the LBGT community, it has to be a form of social commentary rather than an act of normalcy like franchises such as Mass Effect, The Sims, The Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, and many others that have. Nintendo minimizes the systems in Tomodachi Life, describing them as “whimsical” and “quirky”, despite the fact that romantic relationships appear to be a heavy part of the game. To be fair, in Japan, this inclusion could have represented a form of social commentary as same-sex marriages are illegal (though developing) in the country.

Maybe that’s fair, but what about efforts to change the code to include same-sex marriages in localization?

The ability for same-sex relationships to occur in the game was not part of the original game that launched in Japan, and that game is made up of the same code that was used to localize it for other regions outside of Japan.

Well that’s a bummer… or is it?

"We have heard and thoughtfully considered all the responses…We will continue to listen and think about the feedback. We're using this as an opportunity to better understand our consumers and their expectations of us at all levels of the organization."

It seems that Nintendo may not be as “tone-deaf” as the original statement implies. Either that, or the representative got a swift spell of “What the fuck was I thinking?!” Either way, Nintendo would be wise to take re-addressing same sex-marriage inclusion for Tomodachi Life into DEEP consideration. Nintendo hasn’t looked good in the game’s press lately, and news on this particular story has already hit mainstream media.

Nintendo, in many ways, is lagging behind several standards the industry is setting or has already set. Sexual identity/sexual orientation cannot be one of them.

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