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March 17
2013

Should We Be More Upset There’s No Marriage Equality In Fire Emblem: Awakening?

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Fire Emblem:  Awakening
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Fire Emblem: Awakening has been out for a few weeks now, and according to StreetPass it would seem every other 3DS owner out there is playing.  After having logged an almost embarrassing number of hours, and getting past the initial uselessness of just about every unit except Frederick, I’ve fallen in love with the game.  The critics certainly have, too.  But, for spoilerific reasons I won’t get in to, Awakening gives players the ability to marry off characters.  As long as they’re not of the same sex.

In fact, the manual that comes with the download goes out of its way to let you know that you’re restricted to opposite-sex characters.

So where’s the controversy?

Straight folks only.

After all, there have been numerous hullabaloos in recent years over the inclusion, or lack thereof, of same-gender relationships in video games.  Why should Fire Emblem be any different?

Is it because neither Nintendo nor Intelligent Systems itself has (as far as I can tell) said anything at all about it?  It would be hard to believe it’s for lack of disclosure that the issue is dodging the spotlight – except, perhaps, because the whole relationship mechanic is a bit spoiler-y?  Is that keeping it hush-hush?  Are there no other gay gamers playing Awakening?

Is the reason that Awakening is getting a pass from gamers SPOILER ALERT (highlight to read) that the whole point of forming relationships in the game is to procreate?  On the surface that may make some sort of sense, until you realize it sounds awfully like the typical, bigoted “marriage is for making babies” argument that the religious right has been hammering away at for ages now.  Frankly, if that were the reason, I would find it as revolting as if Nintendo had kept same-sex relationships out of Fire Emblem because they thought it would cost them sales to include them.

END SPOILER ALERT

Or are people getting activism fatigue on this issue?  Is it not a Big News Item any more?  Are people in many jurisdictions just too busy fighting for LGBTQ rights in the real world?

I don’t know what the answers are, but I know that this hasn’t been taken as a big deal in the press.  It has been mentioned in passing in reviews, and on some LGBTQ-centric sites, but that’s about it.  The gaming public is aware of it, but there seems to be little consternation out there.

And ultimately I have to wonder why I haven’t made as big a deal out of it as I have with other games.  Is it because I really, really, really like Fire Emblem: Awakening, and we’re all prone to give things more leeway if we like them?  But it bothers me – it really chafes – that as I pair up my characters, I know that Vaike and Frederick will never go to the level above A in compatibility despite how clearly perfect for each other they are.

I’m not saying I want to turn the whole cast into a resurrection of the Sacred Band of Thebes, but I can’t help but think it wouldn’t have taken a lot of work to program in one or two options.

After all, the dialogue is suggestive enough.

Hmmmm...

What do you think?  Give us your thoughts below!

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About Jamie M

(Writer) is GayGamer.net's resident Canadian and a life-long photographer. He likes to spend time in the woods, in the water, and in hammocks, and has read the Iliad in the original Greek.

21 Responses

  1. avatar Cae says:

    I loved Fire Emblem: Awakening so much as well. To be honest, I didn’t really get into the marriage system very much at all. Only one of my characters got married and that was only because of spoiler-y reasons that that character HAS TO get married to someone. My avatar was male and didn’t get married, and I was mostly fine for most of the game just imagining that he was gay and just didn’t happen to be married. There was ONE instance where my avatar mentioned he wasn’t attracted to another character because that character was male, but he wasn’t very attractive anyways, so whatever.

    If they were to hypothetically include same-sex marriage in Fire Emblem, I’d personally be very concerned with having it follow which characters are which orientations, and hopefully the player would be able to choose their avatar’s orientation.

  2. avatar Kaylria says:

    As much as I would like to do my same sex marriages, I see the point the game has to not allowing them.

    *Spoilerish stuff*
    With the whole, characters getting married and having kids thing, the child always takes the hair color of the father, and a special skill or 2 from each of the parents (So Donnel soon becomes your special person to breed off to someone for his skill.
    There are always ways to work around that with lore and stuff, like “Mr. and Mr. Herp adopted derp at a young age, and taught Derp their skills at a young age”, but those things don’t always come to mind for many.

    Also, Olivia’s and Maribelle’s A support is extremely suggestive

  3. avatar Nexus says:

    Thanks for the advance warning.
    Thought about getting this game at some point (wasn’t too high on the list though) and now I can drop it.
    Not a fan of procreation games in general anyway.
    If other people have no problem with it, good for you. But I’m going to use my right not to waste my time with a game that makes straight sexual relations a big gameplay feature and doesn’t provide a gay option.

    • avatar Paul says:

      Are you serious? This is one of the smallest features of the game and all it does is dictate which abilities the offspring will start with.

      If you are turning a blind eye to this great game just because of this small critique that is your choice, but if you have ever been a fan of any strategy RPG or previous Fire Emblem titles you are only doing yourself a disservice by allowing yourself to pass up on such a great game in the genera.

    • avatar redApples says:

      Well, if you weren’t trying to live through a game you wouldn’t really mind, as a homosexual I couldn’t really care any less if Chrom goes and marries either Sumia or Frederick, because I’m kinda busy with my own personal relationships to give one damn about a rather shallow gameplay mechanic which only purpose is story-driven procreation, or what, is m-preg now a poignant point of LGBT legislature? Aren’t we suppossed to be fighting arbitrary claims based on absurd fantasies instead of furthering them?

    • avatar Bradical says:

      Being a huge fan of the Fire Emblem games, I hate to know you’re missing out on some great gameplay, but I totally understand where you’re coming from. I agree with many on this topic that it wouldn’t have been difficult to implement the options for same-sex pairs. Not sure if you’ve played the Dragon Age games, if not you should give them a try :) Lots of same-sex options

  4. avatar Atma says:

    Honestly, the no gays thing is throwing me off a lot more than it probably should. It’s why I haven’t gotten the game despite the fact that it’s the kind of thing I’d love otherwise; everything I see from it is hilarious and well written and I’m a strategy masochist, but the fact that I’d have to play as a dude yet again just to marry a girl I like is unneeded.

    What gets me is the fact they include teasing of gay relationships up to the marriage level. I’ve seen plenty of proof of them having crushes on the same gender and the matchmaker going “Helllll yeah” that to include it in everything up to the final marriage point is a kick in the shin and too much like real life that it throws me off pretty hard.

    You can also marry off kids to adults and have incest couples marry, but not the gays, too, which also leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I might eventually succumb and just play as a dude over and over and get every girl I can in a bunch of playthroughs just as a take that but it feels hollow. Knowing its so tied to the story too, it’d be hard for romhackers to make a patch for unless they could modify it so that, let’s say, dude avatar + certain dude character produces the same child as lady avatar + certain dude. (If the avatar even has kids, I just know you get free reign of whom you marry.) (And no, let’s not discuss how they’d have the baby. Magic adoption is the answer.)

    I’m just glad I’m not the only one put off by this. Pretty much everyone I know loves this game and I felt like the odd girl out.

    Oh well, more EO4 for me then.

  5. avatar Bass says:

    I don’t know, I think the issue is moot from simply a gameplay standpoint.
    (SPOILER STUFF)
    S-Rank relationships are meant to be formed with opposite sexes so that the new characters they create can exist. there’s nothing more to it than that. They attached fun/cute writing and the term marriage to it for the sake of plot and having the mechanic in the game make sense to those who need it to make sense. And hell, even as a gay man I’m finding the couples I’m able to create absolutely adorable.

    I think the reason why it’s not brought up is because it shouldn’t be a big deal in this game’s case. It’s set in a fantasy setting which is typically considered in “Days of Old” and obviously gay wasn’t the norm (we can argue the presence of homosexuality in the times but that’s pointless). And to have gay marriage would actually potentially just make everything more complicated than it needed to be for (spoilerish reasons)

  6. avatar Chaz says:

    What I find concerning isn’t so much the lack of same-sex marriage options but that they specifically state you cannot do so. Had it not been included but also not brought up in the manual I would have been disappointed but I wouldn’t have assumed it was malicious but simply an overlook by predominantly heterosexual game designers. It sucks, but it’s not exactly offensive. Going out of their way to detail that though makes it different. As if the game makers actually saw a problem with it.

  7. avatar Iwa says:

    To drop a game just because it got no “gay marriage”?

    WOW, “Gaymers” sure are soooo much like “Gamers” these days.

  8. avatar fillerbunny9 says:

    Japan is pretty infamous for being quietly homophobic, or in denial over the existence of gays in their country. when a friend of mine was teaching english over there, she was trying to explain that I had a boyfriend. after being corrected “no no you mean girlfriend” a few times, she was greeted with an “Oh, we don’t have those people here.” women are not allowed in gay bars, in order to maintain the privacy of those actually attending; it’s a very down low culture at best.

  9. A lot of FE players have been upset about this. As a disclaimer, I don’t play the series. I don’t think there’s any reason, however, that same gendered couples shouldn’t be able to form S level relationships. Should they be able to procreate? Well that depends on the game universe. If the addition of in vitro fertilization would be totally out of place, then no they shouldn’t. It’s a fantasy and each fantasy world has its own rules. Especially since, as mentioned previously, “high fantasy” is generally considered the past and more traditional than the present. Of course there are exceptions. It’s an artistic choice.

    However, same gender characters have apparently been able to form S level relationship in previous games, so making that level gender specific now is kind of uncomfortable. I wonder if there could have been S level relationships between any characters, but limits placed on who could procreate based on gender. I mean, some straight people have (nonsexual) relationships with same gendered friends that are way closer than their relationship with any spouse. Compromise, perhaps?

    • avatar Joel says:

      Yeah, I think the reason S level relationships are now exclusive (in awakening) to opposite-gendered characters is that they’ve become synonymous with marriage. Sure, other games allowed s-level relationships between same gendered characters, but that just meant those two became really good friends. In fact, some of the S level relationships with characters of the opposite gender would still only result in a strong friendship, if I remember correctly. However, for better or worse, awakening chooses to make “S” synonymous with marriage, rather than just any kind of strong bond.

      I’m a bit disappointed with this for more than one reason. The most obvious one is that, as many people have expressed, I think it is almost scandalous that there are no homosexual marriages allowed in the game. I applauded games such as Mass effect 3 for inserting a couple homosexual characters, and it’s disappointing to see a franchise I like so much opt toward blatant heterosexism.

      The other reason I dislike the choice to make “S” mean marriage is that I’d like to see some super-strong friend and sibling duos. I mean, I think it would be pretty awesome to have an S-rank Chrom and Lissa who were NOT married (let’s not go there) but had an S-rank because of a super-strong sibling bond, and fought together really well because of it. Likewise, I’d like my tactician to get an S-rank relationship with Nowi, WITHOUT marrying her (because yes, technically, she’s 1,000+ years old, but she has the body and mind of a child, so…that makes things uncomfortable) and just have them be really good friends. I mean, yeah, you can get “A” relationships with an unlimited number of people, which indicate really strong friendships, but they still don’t boost each other’s stats in combat as much as an S-rank.

      Anyway, it bothers me, but despite the various annoyances with the marriage system, it’s still a cool system and adds a lot to the game. It’s still a great game and I’m still going to play it, but yeah, I wish they’d be more progressive and include at least one or two possible pairings that are outside the sexuality mainstream.

  10. avatar Time Sage says:

    Honestly it’s never bothered me. I love the game but the plot basiclly spells out “The world is going to end and your kids are the only ones that can hold things together in the future and they coming to the past is key to avoiding it” so everyone pairing up makes sense. And while there were S supports in previous games among same sex pairings, they weren’t always romantic, and more often then not, weren’t. FE has always had plently of innuendo and hinting but they’ve never had a pairing that games explictly state “They’re gay!”

    And yeah, the S support are intended simply to get those kid charcters, as who you choose as the father (Or mother in the case of Lucina or Female Morgan) helps expand their pool of classes, alters their stats some and hands them some extra skills… and hair color (Mothers pass these on as well but which child you get is based on the mother, except in the two aformened cases) The game cleary writes them so you only persued one and ignored all the others and honesty.

    That said there aren’t many non romantic supports (other then with the Avatar), and a handful of characters can only support with the player’s avatar (Who can form S supports with anyone of the oppisate gender and A with everyone of the same). This is simply for one reason: they don’t have a kid they can produce so you can’t pair them up. (The kids can’t produce more kids but you can pair them up (Unless again, it’s with the avatar, Morgan can have anyone as a parent) so it’s a bit weird)

  11. avatar Strike says:

    Hi Jamie M,
    i agree with u. At least a small point:
    when its setled in midle-age, homo marriages werent allowed. Note that its not my oppinion, just to say.
    GL HF everyone and greets,
    Mo

  12. avatar Chaco says:

    I think it’s a Japanese thing. Over here we are much more aware now and more willing to put LGBT in our games (look at Mass Effect 3, Skyrim and Fable ect.) but, I think over there it’s still an issue they are trying to sort out (I might be wrong but thats my thought)

    It also might be the whole child thing, since two guys cannot have kids together sadly, and thus it wouldnt be possible. yeah there is adoption but story wise maybe they just thought it wouldn’t work?

  13. avatar Alonso says:

    Just started playing this week, I’m getting all into it, I love this game. To be honest I don’t want to marry my characters, I’ll see what I do with them.

    There should be gay marriage in the game, there’s a lot of bromance in it, which could be taken as a toon being gay and flirting with you.

    I have noticed some gay characters, and the game plays with it, those villains Victor and Vallian (I think?), they are gay, darling!

    And just came across Libra, which has a woman voice and very woman look but is a man, and even the game jokes with Chrom saying he’s a girl. He could end up being transgender.

    So why not gay marriage? As a gay gamer I would love to see this and marriage my toon with another who he has the best relationship with, and to make babies, put adoption, surely there are a lot of orphans from war out there.

    Funny how the Japanese do have TONS of gay toons in anime, games and stuff, and very feminine ones, but they don’t go to gay marriage and even in porn they censor private parts. It’s just… strange.

  14. avatar Anne Brea says:

    I don’t really care if there isn’t any gay marriage in the game, I just play the game itself. I support gay rights and things like that, but I don’t see the game any less interesting when there isn’t or is gay marriage. The conv. between Libra and Virion was my favorite out of all of them. Honestly, I think the game is just fine as it is. But if you strongly believe they should include gay marriage in the game and more games to come, then do something about it. Like boycott the sells of the game in your house, then your neighborhood, then maybe even your whole town.

  15. avatar Othaniel says:

    Honestly, I think it’s mostly just a programming/mechanics thing.

    SPOILERS BELOW but

    they have to write a set of three (or four) unique conversations for everyone that has a support – and characters have unique supports with their mothers, a standardized conversation with their father and in two cases, a standardized talk with a sibling.

    By linking all the kids (besides Lucina and Morgan) to their mothers, they were probably trying to limit the number of unique supports and definitely the possibilities for siblings.

    For example: Chrom, the only male character with a decided child (besides, possibly, the Avatar), only has four options for a wife while most people have a dozen. Also, even though Lissa is ALWAYS Lucina’s aunt, and often someone else’s, this relationship is never acknowledged by a support. Nor are the several possible cousin relationships.

    The more supports, the more writing, and the more family connections, the more complicated it gets to keep your stories straight.

    It’s already hard to write thirteen life stories that line up under all possible circumstances. The father supports are sometimes painfully generic already and don’t always make sense if a character marries someone too different from who the designers had in mind. Poor Morgan never even gets to really remember his father (or her mother), probably because marriage options for the Avatar are too diverse for a meaningful generic conversation.

    Additionally, some of the kids (Owain, Yarne, Nah) have issues or stories that specifically relate to their heredity, so they couldn’t have been adopted.

    Could they have figured it out, made a couple of exceptions? Yes. Especially among the men, and extra-especially among the kids (since, come on, Gerome and Inigo). But I still think it was mostly mathematics that made the decision, and it certainly isn’t reason for anyone to be mad at a truly amazing game.

    I hope that if the next game features this idea, the marriageable characters will be way more limited, making the poor father less of a throwaway decision (conversation-wise) and hopefully opening the door for some same-sex options too. Because I /would/ like to see it. I just can’t fault this game for leaving it out.

    …They gave us a whole DLC map of blatant fanservice, after all. ^_^

  16. avatar James says:

    I just really want to marry Gaius. :I

  17. avatar Jamison says:

    Its nice pairing them up and jazz but still a tad sad because not all the characters can get married. You have at least ten leftover heroes who live the rest of their life alone. :’/

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