Sometimes it’s better to just not say anything at all. The last time Nintendo released a statement on Tomodachi Life, there was plenty of backlash for the problematic way they chose to phrase things. Using a word like ‘strange’ in regard to, among other things caused by a glitch, the appearance of same-sex couples in the game probably wasn’t the best choice. You’d think after that mess Nintendo would learn to just stop talking about these kinds of things. That’s what most companies do.
But then, after finding out about gaymer Tye Marini’s #Miiquality movement, they went and released a statement on the issue of same-sex marriage in Tomodachi Life. A really bad one, no less:
“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.
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.”
Here we go. Again.
“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.”
This is understandable. I never expected Nintendo to make significant changes to a pre-existing game’s code. It’s unreasonable to think that a company would spend the time and money needed to fundamentally change a game that has long since ceased development to include features that, most likely, would not make any drastic impact on their sales. Less unreasonable, perhaps, would be expecting a game company to just include same-sex options in the first place.
It’s frustrating to be sure, but not unexpected. The video game business is, just that, a business.However, if Nintendo intends to keep their business separate from politics then they might want to hire a new person to write these statements. Or maybe they should just not write them at all.
“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.”
Just…-sigh-I don’t know how many times I have to say this, Nintendo: Ignoring the issue of same-sex marriage and relationships is the same as siding against it. It’s as simple as that.
Would including same-sex options in the game have been social commentary? YES. The comment would have been that LGBT players are just as valid as the rest of the people playing Tomodachi Life. Not including same-sex options comments that the needs, not to mention dollars, of gamers like Tye Marini aren’t important to Nintendo.
The only truly neutral option would be to not include any relationships in the game. Look at Animal Crossing or Disney Magical World, similar in genre but both allow players the freedom to express themselves as they please. Apparently defying gender norms is only acceptable until relationships, babies, and family-making enter the equation.
So Nintendo says that Tomodachi Life is not a ‘real-life simulation’ as their defense. If that’s the case then the ‘playful alternate world’ that Nintendo has created is one where gay people aren’t welcome, or even considered. You exhaust me, Nintendo. In the bleak, gritty, homogenous gaming landscape your games offer a colorful, light-hearted oasis with nary a five o’clock shadow to be seen. Then you go and do things like this
But there is some hope. Nintendo’s statement continues,
“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. We have been looking to broaden our approach to development whenever possible as we put all our energy into continuing to develop fun games that will surprise and delight players.”
So in as vague a phrasing as possible Nintendo has left the door open. Nintendo, please take this as a learning opportunity and actually learn something from it. As I said the last time I wrote on this story, the true value in #Miiquality isn’t in getting Nintendo to alter the game. That, to me, was never a real possibility. The real value would be in inspiring some change; forcing Nintendo to finally acknowledge its queer fans.