Tomodachi Life is a weird cross between The Sims and Animal Crossing that has launched on the 3DS and made Geoff giggle like a little girl even more than usual. However, it has sparked controversy over its heterosexual-only relationship option. Nintendo has commented – are you satisfied?
When Tomodachi Life was initially released, it was reported that same-sex relationships were allowed. However, Nintendo later called this a bug and patched it out of the game. This prompted a gay Nintendo fan, Tye Marini, to launch his Miiquality campaign. Seeing as Tomodachi Life allows players to encounter real-life celebrities, visit amusement parks or go on dates, Marini argued that he wanted to be able to marry his real-life fiancé’s Mii – currently he’d have to change his Mii’s gender or marry a female friend instead.
This LGBTQ campaign didn’t spark controversy with non-LGBTQ gamers. It seems quite natural for simulation games to allow all kinds of relationship options – just look at the Sims. However, Nintendo will not be changing their game to allow same sex relationships. In a statement, they said:
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.
While I can appreciate that Nintendo isn’t trying to provide social commentary, the reality is that all games are being held to a higher standard. Sure, Nintendo is quirky, and Tomodachi Life is beyond quirky, but I’m not sure that it’s enough of an excuse. Excluding homosexual relationships was a purposeful decision by Nintendo – regardless of their statements to the contrary, this will be viewed as a purposeful exclusion of homosexuals in general. Maybe Nintendo wants gamers to see it as a “playful alternate world”, but player’s sexual tendencies are likely to continue into their gameplay. Why would Nintendo choose to alienate those players and restrict gameplay options? It simply doesn’t make sense when inclusion would make more gamers happy, and won’t change the core experience.
Do you think Nintendo will be excused for this because they are so off the wall? Or should we get into our bomb shelters and prepare for the fallout on this one?
Last Updated: May 8, 2014