avatar

May 15
2013

Nintendo Rids Tomodachi Collection: New Life of ‘Strange’ Same Sex Relationships

by
Homokore
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg

Nintendo’s Tomodachi Collection is a life simulation series only available in Japan. It can be best described as a mix between The Sims and Animal Crossing. Players control their Miis (which they can transfer over from their Wii consoles) as they go about every day tasks in real time. The newest entry in the popular series, Tomodachi Collection: New Life for the 3DS has been making the internet rounds over the last few days as news spread about the game allowing for same-sex marriages.

Quite the big step coming from the same company that recently saw so much controversy over its treatment of gay marriage and child rearing in Fire Emblem: Awakening, right?

Not really.

Turns out the ability to marry a Mii of the same sex was not only a glitch, but one that was also limited to male characters (sorry lesbians). The glitch also made it possible for male characters to become pregnant. Glitch or not, many Japanese players rejoiced at Tomodachi Collection: New Life‘s accidental equality. The trending topic #homokore, a play on #tomokore (a shortening of Tomodachi Collection), was born and many gamers began tweeting screenshots of their happy little gay Miis living their everyday lives. Some players decided to buy the game because of the glitch. Many news outlets called for Nintendo to embrace the glitch and merely patch it to allow female Miis to get in on the marriage fun.

Well, Nintendo did release a patch….but rather than allow for ladies to marry ladies it just goes ahead eliminates same sex marriage options in the game altogether.

Adding insult to injury, Nintendo said in a statement that players should download the patch if they are experiencing any of the following:

“The inability to boot up the game

Error messages

Human relations that become strange

The inability to save”

Here we go.

large

Now it would be one thing if Nintendo had simply done away with the glitch via patch and never said anything about it.  At least then they could fall back on the “oh…we were just patching a glitch, not taking a stance. Our bad.” defense. A move like that would be some shady shade, but feigning ignorance at least looks a little better on them. Instead they decide to release a statement on the issue that may seem harmless, but is actually quite telling when you break it down:

The statement directly refers to the issue of same-sex marriage in the game, which indicates that not only are the developers aware of the gay glitch they are also very much aware of how the patch will erase it. And yet the statement itself is worded in such a way that not once does it use the words ‘same sex marriage’ or ‘gay’ or anything that would point to LGBT content of any sort. Okay…so maybe they’re avoiding the gay terminology so as not to come off as “hey, if you’ve got gays in your game download this patch to fix it!” I get that. But then they go on to refer to said same sex relationships as “human relations that become strange.” The Japanese term being used is okashiku ( おかしく) which translates to strange or otherwise funny or somehow off.

I know that Nintendo’s intent likely wasn’t to equate marriage equality with faulty code but the end result speaks for itself. Too often we play devil’s advocate for people whose statements could have easily been devoid of all homophobic subtext had they simply thought a little harder about their syntax.

And even if the wording of the statement weren’t so bizarre, it doesn’t change the fact that should a player download this patch their ability to get gay-married will be eliminated entirely. Some commenters on other sites have said that it’s not Nintendo that is taking a stance but rather the players who can choose to download the patch or not. This might be if the patches to fix actual technical issues like data saving weren’t lumped in with the elimination of gay marriage.

Players do have the choice to not patch their games, in fact many Japanese players are actively deciding to avoid it as both a form of protest and celebration of gay pride,  but in doing so they are also choosing to ignore patches that might actually keep the game operational. Had Nintendo offered this patch as a separate release, or if the various other glitches were all connected (it’s unclear if this is the case), then this argument might hold some water, but instead players are faced with “Do you like gay marriage or do you want a functioning game?”

Not exactly a fair choice.

Then comes the issue of male characters becoming pregnant. As some commenters have noted, this is in itself quite the ‘strange’ glitch, and erasing the pregnancies but not the marriages would be vastly complicated in itself. Recoding entire sections of the game to cater to an admittedly small part of their overall audience to allow for gay marriage but not gay pregnancy (but perhaps to then account for adoption or surrogacy) would take more effort, more time, and more money. But to that I say: Why wasn’t this considered in the first place? And more importantly, if it means pleasing a segment of your demographic then why not put in that extra work? It just means more copies sold down the line.

The gamers that got #homokore trending didn’t even seem to mind men getting preggers. They were happy to be acknowledged at all.

tomodachi-collection-new-life

When I think back to the controversy surrounding Fire Emblem: Awakening I can suspend my own homosexual biases long enough to possibly buy the argument that a game set in ancient times wouldn’t have gay marriage options. It’s a stretch (they are in a world where magic exists) but one that at least has some modicum of messy logic to it. With Tomodachi Collection: New Life that already weak argument goes right out the window. Some might say that this game is set in Japan where cultural views of homosexuality are quite different, and that is a valid point to be sure. However Tomodachi Collection: New Life is supposed to reflect the life of the individual player and this move makes the assumption that Japanese gay people aren’t playing the game or that they’re a demographic even worth taking note of. The #homokore trending topic alone should be proof enough to the contrary. It’s even in the character’s names: Mii. If this game gives players the chance to be themselves but then rejects those who are gay, accident or not what message does that send?

This is a game set in the real world where the whole point is to experience the everyday events of modern life, right? Well maybe this is news to our friends at Nintendo but: GAY PEOPLE ARE REAL. Gay marriages are real. Male pregnancy may not be real, but two men living together and raising a family certainly is. Oh and Lesbians are real too, just in case they get forgotten in all this mess. And all of these people play your games, Nintendo.

And let’s not forget that this is a video game. A video game in which every bit of content available was crafted by its designers. If designers decide to put relationship and marriage options into their game and only include heterosexual options, whether they intend to or not, they have taken a stance. All the same, had they allowed the same-sex marriage to remain in the game they’d be taking a stance. If Nintendo’s goal is to remain neutral on this whole affair, and I can only assume it is, then they need to release another patch that eliminates all relationship options in the game.

Sorry Nintendo: Neutrality isn’t an option here.

Now I’m not calling for a boycott of Nintendo or anything of the sort, in fact I’m quite the big Nintendo supporter most of the time (no matter how frustrating they can be). But just because we love the house that Mario built doesn’t mean we can’t critique it when problematic choices like these are made.

Here we have an accident that happened to bring a lot of happiness to a small marginalized group of players, only to have that accident both acknowledged and then eradicated in one fell, poorly worded, swoop. Was this an Orson Scott Card-style homophobic attack? No. But it does show the level of ignorance surrounding LGBT issues still plaguing major developers that desperately needs to be called out. With any hope Nintendo will see how this decision has affected their customers and perhaps it will spark a little change.

 

avatar

About Sal Mattos

(Managing Editor and Writer) Sal lives in the beautiful city of San Francisco where he splits his time between playing games, watching copious amounts of television, and occasionally going outside. He has written for GayGamer and Gamezone. He studied creative writing and theatre at SFSU, and when not gaming can most likely be found on stage somewhere. You can keep up with him on twitter @salmattos

22 Responses

  1. avatar Hernan says:

    I’m so tired of this issue. Physically and emotionally tired. I can’t wrap my head about why people are so afraid of this. It’s aggravating.

    I grew up on a strict diet of Nintendo games. Zelda, Mario, DK, you name it. But I refuse to buy a another Nintendo product until they either reverse their position on this or apologize to this community for calling us fucking strange.

  2. Admittedly, I might be grasping at straws here, but “human relations that become strange” could refer to men getting pregnant. That is pretty strange, right?
    The minor glitch (men being allowed to marry) was creating a major glitch (men getting pregnant). Leaving gay marriage in but taking gay pregnancy out would be a significant change in the game’s code/design.
    Yeah, it would have been awesome if the game was designed with same-sex marriage in the first place, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions and immediately boycott Nintendo.

    • avatar Branovices says:

      Yeah, I’m agreeing with PigLatin above. I was waiting for the author to mention the full context of the bug, that men were also getting pregnant, but he did not. This makes it seem as though that fact was omitted purposefully to create a more sensationalist story.

    • avatar Monster_Hunter2882 says:

      I’ve read the gay marriage glitch was causing the other major glitches (inability to save sometimes,the game sometimes failing to boot).Plus with the “human relations that become strange” message was translated with Google, it’s probably not properly translated correctly and we’re probably missing something. The removal of the glitch might also have something to do with the CERO(Japanese ESRB) rating (the game got an all ages rating) and not wanting to bump up that rating ( i don’t know how CERO rates things but I can’t think of 1 E rated gamed with a character stated to be gay). Also Nintendo has (at least applied) LGBT characters like Tony from Earthbound(Mother 2)Hiker Andy in Pokemon Black/White(1/2)(in the Japanese version of Pokemon B/W 2 he tells the female protagonist he lost love 2 summers ago and in Pokemon B/W[which is set 2 years before B/W 2] you can have the male protagonist ride the Ferris wheel with Andy in the summer [in the JPN ver Andy asks him if he ever had a lover].),and the Japanese website for Mario Kart Double Dash calls Birdo “Yosh’s Girlfriend whose really a boyfriend”. Sorry for the wall of text. Also sorry if my grammar is bad.

  3. avatar Thorin says:

    The pregnancy stuff does get mentioned in the article, maybe you missed it?

    Either way I think that this is still an issue worth looking at. The glitch made a lot of gamers happy and they seemed content to deal with the oddity of male Miis getting pregnant if it meant they could be gay in the games. Sure that would be harder to code around but not impossible.

    It’s an easy cop out if you ask me.

  4. avatar lawlaw says:

    Who cares if men were getting pregnant? Even if thats what Nintendo meant by saying strange they still could of worded it more so that that was clear.

    They could have just said relationships where men get pregnant need to get fixed or something.

  5. avatar Monster_Hunter2882 says:

    To be honest I don’t think Nintendo is homophobic, I just think they’re cowards when it comes to social issues like this.Plus this game’s developmental team (not that I’m calling them homophobic) isn’t the same team that work on Mario, Zelda, Animal Crossing, Pokemon, and Smash Bros and Nintendo might have LGBT employees and non-LGBT employees who support LGBT rights,it would be a shame to not support the hard working people who worked on those games because this game does not have same-sex marriage. Maybe instead of going on the internet and making angry rants Nintendo will probably never know of, we should instead find a way to contact them and nicely let them know they have gay fans and that we would like to see same-sex marriage in games like this and maybe they’ll add it in a future one (they probably won’t but not because they’re anti sames sex marriage, as I said I think they’re cowards when it comes to social issues). Also as I have mentioned in a previous post, Nintendo does have gay characters(examples are in my previous post).

    This messy situation has yet to harm my excitement for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Pokemon X/Y, Pikmin 3, and Zelda 3DS.

  6. avatar Michael says:

    Growing up I was a nintendo ‘fanboy’, but I haven’t bought a nintendo product in four years. They screwed me over too many times and I boycotted them without looking back. For the last several years I’ve been reading about how nintendo keeps doing stuff like this, over and over again. It makes me that much happier to know they’ll never get another penny from me.

    They know gays are people. They know we play their games. They clearly don’t care either.

  7. avatar gundam00 says:

    Just as the Sports industry is coming around to the GLBT community within their industry as well as those who support their industry, Video Games will have to come around eventually. Nintendo has sprinkled gay background characters in a few of their games, but nothing as extensive as Tomodachi had done. If gay marriage were accepted in Fire Emblem and Tomodachi, I would rush out to support the game. Unfortunately, Nintendo does not want to include the GLBT community in their games. Tomodachi has sold over 1 million units in Japan. I’m sure some of those sales were by the GLBT community. The incident with Fire Emblem and Tomodachi I take personally because gay marriage is very important to me. And I’m torn over my support of Nintendo. I know Tomodachi is Japan only, but is not buying Fire Emblem or Tomodachi enough? Or is dropping all support for Nintendo the way to go, an eye for an eye so to speak? There were several games I was planning to buy, but now I’m left with an empty feeling when I think about Nintendo. A well worded statement regarding Tomodachi by Nintendo that was respectful to the GLBT community explaining the situation would have been some comfort.

  8. avatar Ann says:

    Geez… I fyou don’t have any problems you sure make ‘ em on your own… dear gaming-community!

    “Human relations that become strange”

    Malepreg IS strange, so no problem here… It’s not about a gay relationship after all! Calm down folks!

    • avatar Ann says:

      Oh and BTW: Stop that Fire Emblem stuff. Fire Emblem got FIXED characters. if there’s no gay-character in the game just deal with it. Not every guy and girl in the world is gay as well. Problem?

      Fire Emblem is not a game like WOW or Tomadachi Collection, where the characters are YOURS to shape. Sure you got your avatar, but that’s about it…

      It’s “issues” like this, that make even “gayming” a lot more “less enjoyable”. Gaming sure seems to be just about finding a reason to drama, flame or shitstorm these days… EWWW!

      • avatar leap says:

        Just deal with it? Really? So what you’re saying is just sit and wait until some developer feels like including gay characters. Don’t speak your opinion. Shut up and take what you can get.

  9. For all the folk suggesting that men can’t get pregnant – aye, they can. Folk can be male in (social, cultural) gender but not male in (physical, biological) sex. And that’s not even getting into more complex examples of trans* identity and intersexuality.

    Yeah, one could make a reasonable call that the Miis in Ninty’s Tomodachi Collection are all meant to be understood as having the same gender as they do sex, but hey, not all of us are that lucky. It’s a shame that Nintendo accidentally came across as pretty progressive – not just addressing homosexuality, but trans identity as well! – due to a software bug, which was then hastily wiped away because it made the Mii’s behaviour “strange” (rather than “more reflective of positive human behaviour, identity and physiology”).

    • avatar Ann says:

      @ Mitch Alexander: Doesn’t change the fact folks make this issue a “homophobic” one. It’s not! And from a biological point of view I, as man, just cannot get pregnant.

      Also, I’d like to say that the word “strange” is more the result of a rather odd translation. You sure CAN translate it that way, but that doesn’t mean it is supposed to be like that. Unless, of course, you feel the need to see homophobia everywhere and fight against it. It’s like searching a needle in the haysack. For me, that’s just as weird as homophobia…

      The whole issue is just like Fire Emblem. Nothing wrong if you got certain feelings for that special character, but if he’s not gay in the script just deal with it. Not every guy is gay, not every girl is lesbian… You can’t? Fine… But don’t say that’s because Nintendo’s against same sex relationships…

      It pains me to see the gayming community is just the same as the gaming community. When did you folks stop to play just for the sake to enjoy a nice game? It’s about finding stuff to rainbowstorm and whatever.

      • avatar Nexus says:

        It must be nice to see everything in such a simplistic way.

        As if anybody who takes issue with something in a game is incapable of enjoying any game at all. Because obviously anyone who dares criticise is just a Simpsons-style comic book guy stereotype. It couldn’t possible be that we care about the games we play.

        The whole Fire Emblem thing is also a lot more complex than you’re making it out. It isn’t just about fixed characters’ sexuality.
        BTW they’re not fixed characters in terms of relationships, because the whole point with games like Fire Emblem is that you choose between which characters you create a relationship.

        Oh and I’m not saying that Nintendo is homophobic myself. I’m not quite convinced of that. But it is alarming that it has had two of these stories in a very short time.
        But as it stands, I don’t blame the entire company for these slights to the gay community any more than I blame Bioware for the massive fuckup that ST:TOR has been in terms of SG relationships.

        • avatar Ann says:

          You folks are the ones making it simple… “there’s no gay content, you drama” and that’s just like everything in gaming these days. You don’t get a certain “whatever” you start up a shitstorm and such.

          Even though YOU can create the relationship between the characters, they are far from being like your own avatar. That’s the point.

          • avatar Nexus says:

            Hah! I play hundreds of games. If I had a problem with each one that didn’t have gay content I would only get to play one a year or something.
            Nice try assuming things about me though. Sadly (for you) you’re completely wrong.

            I’d like gay content, but I don’t make a drama if it isn’t there.
            It’s only when there’s a good reason for it to be there or when they make a point of it to deny us having it that I get annoyed by it.

            And your second point it just contradictory.

  10. avatar Lucifer says:

    I wish men COULD get pregnant! My boyfriend and I could have a biological kid if we wanted to.

  11. avatar Ann says:

    @ Nexus: If there’s anything contradictory it’s your comment. If you don’t have problems with games having no gay-content, why s it a problem at SOME games anyways?

    Besides: preset/fixed characters are not your own avatar, where you set up the whole background and whatever. It’s a matter of fact!

    I’d also like to notice there’s no reason to refer anything automatically to “you”. Or do I have to tell your the difference between “you” and “you”?

    • avatar Lance says:

      Absolutely ridiculous for you to continue to pretend that Fire Emblem Awakening is not intended to be a hetero male fantasy game when you get a harem of women to choose from. Just because a character already has a background and traverses a story doesn’t mean that they are not intended to be avatars of the “target audience”. Just because your character lives in a small middle-class suburb in the Pokemon world and then travels through a pre-set scenario doesn’t change the fact that they exist as avatars.

  12. avatar rob says:

    This is what I wrote on Nintendo’s Facebook page: “Nintendo excludes gay people from this game. Gay people exist. We are human beings who have loving relationships. We are not bad people who should hide in shame. The message Nintendo is putting out with this exclusion is that gay people’s lives and loves are offensive, and unfit for the public. Violence and killing in video games is just fine, but loving gay relationships are bad? Nintendo, move into the 21 century”

    We need to contact Nintendo America and and start a campaign to include us.

  13. […] early version of the Japanese Tomodachi Life did allow for same-sex marriage, but this was deemed a “strange” glitch and removed via a downloadable […]

Leave a Reply