In case you missed it, Tomodachi Life is a life simulation, not far removed from Nintendo's long-running Animal Crossing series. When it was first released in Japan, gamers discovered that it was possible to not only marry partners of the opposite sex, but ones of the same sex as well. This turned out to be a programming error which turned the game code inside out and prevented players from saving their progress, but it also seemed to open the door to the possibility of gay relationships when the game was released in the United States, a country which has seen a shift in its view of homosexuality over the last twenty years.
|They make a nice couple. Or would, anyway.|
(Image courtesy of Cinema Blend)
Weak move, Nintendo.
Personally, I'm with the gay community on this issue, although perhaps not as strongly as they would like. I've seen footage of Tomodachi Life, and the game is wacky by design. Compared to some of the outrageous antics that happen (like giant versions of your friends looming in the ocean, and cameo appearances by Christina Aguilera), two men living together is positively mundane. At the same time, I understand the difficult position Nintendo has been put in over this game. I find myself in the same position when I tell my gay friends that I won't boycott the company for its decision... or its apparent lack of one.
Whatever Nintendo decides, it owes its customers an explanation, rather than sticking its head in the sand and hoping nobody notices. They've noticed. You can't ignore this, because nobody else will. If you support what gay rights advocates are calling Miiquality, you'll give your customers a more inclusive and full-featured game in the process. If you don't, you'll briefly avoid the righteous indignation of right-wing loudmouths (until they find another scapegoat in your library), but it won't reflect positively on you in another twenty years, when gay marriage goes national and is embraced by a majority of Americans.
You don't get a third option, Nintendo. You can only ride the razor's edge for so long before you fall off and make a mess of yourself.
EDIT: Okay, okay, I dropped the second prog rock reference. It was a little too self-indulgent, even for a personal journal. That tip of the hat to ELP stays, though!
Also, I was made aware that Nintendo did offer a public statement earlier today about Miiquality, a mealy-mouthed excuse that satisfied absolutely nobody and even angered a few. They claimed their game was too silly and escapist for "social commentary," which holds almost as much water as a bucket made of doilies. Fable II had same-sex relationships, and that was a game where you wooed potential partners with farting and handstands!
(This marks one of those all-too rare occasions where Pete gets to feel smug about a promise he actually kept. But I digress!)
Tye Marini, the man who started the push for same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life, stopped short of boycotting the game. It seems that The Gay Gamer's Bryan Ochalla will also be picking up a copy, in spite of Nintendo's decision to forsake Miiquality. I don't blame anyone for buying the game if it interests them... personally, I'm not gay, and don't really have a stake in this debate. Nevertheless, the heteros-only gameplay of Tomodachi Life reminds me of how stubbornly unwilling Nintendo has been to listen to fan input.
It's not just about civil rights issues, either... it was like pulling teeth to get Nintendo to embrace online functionality, and we had to suffer through two years of an unlit Game Boy Advance screen before the company relented and gave us a system we could play without standing on the surface of the sun. With Nintendo suffering financially in this console cycle, maybe it's time for them to take the concerns of their user base seriously? I really don't think their current plans to segue into the health care industry is going to work out for them...