Nintendo has issued an update to remove a controversial hand gesture from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The Nintendo Switch version of the game was released last month and quickly sold over one million copies.
The latest update for the game makes a change to a victory gesture performed by one character. The popular Nintendo Switch racing game features characters from Splatoon and sees one of them, Inkling Girl, celebrate by putting a clenched fist in the air as she holds onto her bicep. While the gesture seems innocent enough to many players, in several Latin American countries, along with Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, the “Italian salute” is actually used to insult and essentially means “Up yours!”
As such, Nintendo has issued a fix in the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe v1.1 patch. The patch notes mention that “Inkling Girl’s animation has been adjusted” and in the adjusted pose (pictured below) the character no longer puts her hand on her arm. Other fixes include “invincibility period after a spin-out or crash is longer in online matches,” “starting positions in online races now properly reflect the order in which players join” and the game’s driver Miis now “properly” show facial expressions as well.
As to be expected, fans are divided over whether this fix was a good idea or not. The argument from some is that some players are “offended by everything” and that Nintendo should not have made the change. They liked the victory pose in its original form and say that the way that she was clutching her bicep was a show of the tiny character’s strength, if anything. Others though, argue that “context” is key and that although the gesture may not be widely understood in all territories, it is as bad as if Inkling Girl – or any other Mario Kart 8 Deluxe character – was to stick their middle finger up.
Regardless of this division, though, the entire situation is a show of how companies take global traditions, different cultures across the world and international laws into account. For example, Blizzard didn’t publish an Overwatch comic in Russia due to that country’s laws regarding LGBT content and the company wanted to avoid the comic strip being banned. And while it seems unlikely that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe ever risked a ban in Europe or Latin America over the gesture, Nintendo’s decision means that the company can avoid that conversation entirely.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is available for Nintendo Switch.