Business may not be booming at the moment for Nintendo after posting another disappointing financial report, but the company was recently hit with a new problem in the form of controversy surrounding an upcoming title known as Tomodachi Life. The anticipated 3DS title, described as a fantasy life simulator, has brought a lot of heat on the Japanese publisher because of the absence of same-sex relationships.
As a result of this, an online movement called ‘Miiquality’ was started, which gathered a massive amount of attention across a broad range of news and media outlets. This movement, despite being a very clever combination of the words ‘equality’ and ‘Mii’ (the avatars featured within the game), lead to a petition for Nintendo to patch the game and allow players to enter same-sex relationships.
The house of Mario has since released an official statement apologizing for not allowing users to engage in an in-game relationship with whoever they want, but stated that it’s unable to change the content in Tomodachi Life with a single patch. Instead, adjustments can and will only be implemented into future sequels — provided the game actually gets them.
“We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to change this game’s design, and such a significant development change can’t be accomplished with a post-ship patch. At Nintendo, dedication has always meant going beyond the games to promote a sense of community, and to share a spirit of fun and joy. We are committed to advancing our longtime company values of fun and entertainment for everyone. We pledge that if we create a next installment in the Tomodachi series, we will strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players.”
For the most part, many modern games allow players to engage in a romantic relationship with whichever person (or alien in some cases) that they want. Big-name titles like The Sims and Mass Effect have allowed gamers to pursue romantic interests with whatever gender they so desire, while the publisher of both of those franchises refuses to back down from thousands of anti-gay letters it has received. Indie-hit Gone Home also explored the topic in a powerful and artistic fashion, so it’s odd that Nintendo made the decision not to permit the option in the first place.
Regardless of the controversy, Tomodachi Life is still steadily aiming for a release in June, and if it does do well enough to warrant a sequel then gamers will see this issue addressed. An apology and promise to change in the future may not be good enough, however, as the appeal of the whimsical, reality simulator can be lost on players that feel excluded from the title’s intended experience.
Is Nintendo’s apology and promise to add same-sex relationships in possible sequels enough or should the company take the measures to ensure Tomodachi Life is changed now?
Tomodachi Life will hit the Nintendo 3DS on June 6, 2014.
Follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.