Well that sure was quick. After spending the day no doubt dodging countless questions, insults, and boycott threats regarding Tomodachi Life‘s lack of same-sex options the big N has issued an apology.
It’s a start, right?
Nintendo took to its official Facebook page earlier today to address the massive controversy surrounding their upcoming 3DS game Tomodachi Life. For those just tuning in, when the life-sim was originally released in Japan last year it made waves when players found that same-sex pairings were only possibly either via a glitch (which Nintendo patched, along with a horribly worded statement on the issue) or by disguising Miis of one sex as another to create the appearance of queer couples.
Following the announcement that the game would be localized for western audiences Nintendo made it clear that since same-sex relationships weren’t possible in the original release they would not be possible this time around.
This prompted gaymer Tye Marini to start the #MiiQuality movement, to raise awareness around the issue and try to convince Nintendo to add these features.
Nintendo responded to #MiiQuality with another horribly worded statement, and saw major backlash from not only gaymers (some saw fit to boycott Nintendo altogether) but most maintstream gaming press as well.
The whole story got picked up by major media outlets, from Slate to TIME, and it was no doubt at that point that Nintendo decided it was time to release yet another statement on the game. Only this time, it’s actually not that bad.
So there it is. In not so many words Nintendo has made a bold-faced promise to include same-sex options on the next Tomodachi go around.
But why stop there Nintendo? This is far from the first time the company has faced a negative response for their decisions regarding representation. Characters like Birdo and Paper Mario’s Vivian, visible trans characters, have had their identities either retconned or censored in localized versions. Fire Emblem: Awakening offered numerous romance and child-rearing options as a key game mechanic, but did not feature any same-sex ones. And now this.
Meanwhile other Nintendo games have encouraged free gender representation, like in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Disney Magical World. Shigeru Miyamoto has expressed an openness to the possibility gay characters in his games. Even the standard Mii Maker has no restrictions on men wearing makeup or ladies with boy haircuts. And how could we forget about the WiiWare title Muscle March?
We’ve already seen plenty of progress from the house that Mario built, making this misstep seem all the more egregious.
Nintendo, you have a massive gay following and it’s time to acknowledge their existence. No more back and forth on these topics. It’s not often social issues like these come up in your whimsical games, but when they do? Make sure to handle them properly the first time around.
I suspect that even with this apology many fans are already feeling burned enough to not accept it, but I’m willing to give them a chance. Nintendo has been making an effort to be more transparent with their customers in the last few months, and this is another example of that. Maybe I’m an optimist but I’d really like to see Nintendo truly embrace their queer fans and learn something from #miiquality; this apology tells me that they’re at least going to try.
For now that’s enough, but only time will tell if their actions will live up to heir promises.