avatar

May 9
2014

Nintendo Apologizes For Tomodachi Life’s Lack of Same-Sex Relationships

by
nintendo miiquality apology
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg

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.

nintendo miiquality apology

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.

 

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

24 Responses

  1. avatar The_French_Guy says:

    While it’s true that Nintendo could do more, i am still VERY happy we got this response! Taking responsibilities and vowing to do better is a great step. Tough it would be nice if they recognized we existed since like… day one.

    In comparison, most other PR response to controversies like this would just make a stand up comedy routine and called us stupid while the audience laugh… You know, like the PA boys?

  2. avatar Robert says:

    You know what, fuck you guys.

    Nintendo has little to nothing to apologize about. It is the entire journalist and blogger-spheres who should be saying sorry here for causing an unnecessary witchunt over a game. And then you finish with the most backhanded response of praise I have ever seen?

    I thought journalism stopped being so yellow at this point.

    • avatar The_French_Guy says:

      …sorry but wha? To who are you saying “You guys” and what way is this opinion piece “yellow journalism”? You do know yellow journalism started wars and lynch mobs in the past… right?

      Last i checked, no one was being killed or tortured over this apology.

  3. avatar Nexus says:

    @Robert

    What? You want them to get actual praise over this response?

    Obviously they never thought this would get the media attention it did and now that it has, they’ve quickly issued a halfway decent response (as opposed to their previous crap ones) to placate the complainers.

    I’m not the kind of person who’d boycot all of Nintendo over this. Just like I didn’t boycot Microsoft for not giving us M/M relationships in Mass Effect untill the 3rd game in the trilogy (and even then not even giving us Garrus or Vega).
    But if you think this is in any way heartfelt of sincere, you’re deluded. This is appeasement.
    And I highly doubt that we’ll see a future Tomodachi with same-sex relationships. No matter what they said here.

    • avatar Aaron T says:

      Completely agree with you.

    • avatar Robert says:

      It’s not about them getting praise. It’s about depicting the right picture.

      This second response should not be necessary to begin with, but the bitching done over it caused that to happen. Appeasement or sincerity is irrelevent to the discussion, but if you are going to treat Nintendo like they are some mustache-twirling villain, why not put your money where your mouth is and not buy fucking Super Smash Bros.

      At least then you, and other folks complaining, will stand by their comments.

  4. avatar Ann says:

    That topic is a pain in the ***

    Homosexuals are not interested in making other people homosexual, but they are interested in calling almost everything homophobic.

    If you want to fight for the rights of LGBT-people, go OUT and do it where it does HELP.

    Consider this: will I be able to play a Person in a wheelchair in the next Tomodachi? Is Nintendo against equality for disabled people now?
    Nobody screams for such stuff, yet it’s part of life, just as sickness. But going against homophobia, even if it is not there, is the big thing.

    Know what? I rather go out and protest for LGBT rights in russia rather than calling me a “gaymer” if I look at the selfmade issues with tomodachi, fire Emblem and whatever.

    • It is hard to argue that Nintendo are “for” equality for disabled people if they have next to no disabled characters, no representation of issues disabled people face, and no opportunity to play as a disabled character. It’s also hard to argue that Nintendo are “against” equality, because it paints a picture of Nintendo execs sitting in a darkened room rubbing their hands with glee as they contemplate how to really stick it to disabled people this time, which obviously isn’t the case either. It’s more like they’re not really thinking about it at all – which is the problem!

      And that’s just the thing – it doesn’t matter if they’re “for” or “against” something, because that assumes that one’s intent is the most important factor when it comes to how their actions impact people – and it’s not. You can be “for” something – like LGBTQ+ equality – on a conceptual, theoretical level, while still doing things that actively or indirectly hurts LGBTQ+ people. And that’s exactly what’s going on here.

      The fact that there are so few representations of disabled life and opportunities to play as disabled characters IS a massive problem, and it IS due to ableism. That’s not to say Nintendo’s intent is to hurt disabled people – it’s to say that, because of their practices, and regardless of their intent, disabled people are left out of a sim that represents players’ lives. And that is because we live in a society that encourages us not to think too much about disabled people except in tokenistic, simplistic ways.

      • avatar Ann says:

        The only problem I see is the typical internet drana, and another example of seeing homophobia where it is NOT.

      • avatar Robert says:

        Intent is more important than anything else here, without it we can’t understand a damn thing regarding why vs how.

        See, it is not about simplicity but about respect of the design of the games. To put your own spin on why or why not a company leaves out groups in a game is to push forward a political agenda in something, and in this case, in something without such aim’s attached. It is irresponsible to say that Nintendo should think about such things in that regard, when they are more worried about making a good game for people to play, versus the state of the world reflected in their own games.

        For example, Sal mentions about how same-sex relationships should be in Fire Emblem: Awakening, but that would A) Alter the game mechanics presented, I.E, a sort of legacy system where offspring are involved in the future, and B) Serve no purpose to continue the main draw of the game, which is the story of the game. In fact, in some cases it would change the storyline so drastically it would require a second mode to finish the title, or more likely, scrap the legacy system all-together.

        What is Nintendo’s intent with this mechanic?

        It can be argued that it doesn’t matter, but it truthfully does, because the inclusion of such a mechanic, as we have seen through how the game plays out, is necessary to complete the game. The intent was to create a legacy experience that was not drowned out in sexual pandering like Agarest War, and they did that, tying it to the story where necessary to make the game worth playing. It is to deliver a good game with gameplay experiences, to tell a story and to not be a commentary of sorts with a hidden goal behind it.

        So intent does matter, within the confines of the game itself. To add an agenda outside of that, to say intentions mean nothing, is to simplify the fact that all games need to service a social or political point with them to be both playable and acceptable, which is simply untrue.

        • avatar Ann says:

          The only way to please EVERYONE on the world is NOT to make a game. YOu just cannot change a game for every country, for every person…

          • avatar Canaan says:

            Give me a break with this whole “if a game cannot be socially-aware then there can be NO GAMES”.

            Reality doesn’t work like that.

          • avatar Ann says:

            That’s not what I said, Canaan

  5. avatar Doug says:

    Ha ha, I thought I could come here to be free of the ignorant comments on the other gaming websites.

    Thanks Robert for reminding us that we’re still not as good as straight people!

    • avatar Robert says:

      Well, someone needs to be reminded of the self-arrogance that keeps going on.

      I mean honestly, are we really judging Nintendo here for being homophobic, when they are nothing of the sort to begin with. That is like saying the producers of The Notebook are homophobic because their movie features no same-sex romances. It is a ridiculous slope to go down, one that is trashing the blogsphere with faux activism that offends me more then anything else.

  6. avatar Canaan says:

    It’s pretty exhausting to see people praise titles like Animal Crossing New Leaf as “breakthroughs” or “revolutionary”. Sorry, but a life simulator that literally forces you into a permanent pale skin complexion does not sound in any shape or form as socially aware.

    • avatar CPFace says:

      You’re right. That is a huge suck. :/

      • avatar Ann says:

        Well, you can. At least in the cube version you could have a dark skinned villager, you just had to stand in the sun every day. Weird I know :)

        • avatar Canaan says:

          I said the game permanently forces you into a pale skin complexion, i.e. the tanning is fully artificial and will go away if you do not devote hours on end into maintaining it.

          It is both psychologically and physically draining.

    • avatar Ann says:

      You can play black people. Just stand in the sun for too long ;) At least it worked in the Cube game and you had to do it every day…

  7. avatar Aaron T says:

    These kind of apologies are ridiculous and, exactly what another poster said, appeasement. Nintendo had no intention of including same sex relationship content, because they have a massive audience to consider, most of whom are not gay, and they worry about the negative sales impact of including a “controversial” social interaction into a “family” game. Nintendo is not sorry they didn’t include this content, they are sorry that a small (percentage-wise) but vocal group of gamers created a stink over it.

    I would have admired Nintendo more for acknowledging what they had done and asking for the LGBT community’s partnership is changing the social issues that make LGBT inclusion an automatic nix on that necessary E rating. When Nintendo instead issues a non-apology (I’m sorry you’re mad), I lose respect for their company. I don’t blame Nintendo for their programming choices, but I blame us for accepting an “apology” rather than responsibility.

  8. […] Nintendo has not been having a good week responding to queer critics. The gaming giant is set to release Tomodachi Life in the United States. The game features the daily lives of the characters (similar to the Sims for computer platforms). In the Japanese version of the game, a bug allowed characters to participate in same sex relationships. However, Nintendo “fixed” the bug for the American market, and many gaymers have been incensed with the change. […]

Leave a Reply