Not one for getting embroiled in moral controversies, the family friendly Nintendo has issued a statement asserting that Tomodachi Life, which is slated to arrive in North America this June, will not allow for homosexual relationships between the in-game characters. This statement comes on the back of a campaign being waged by one of their fans to have them modify the game to allow for same-sex relations in Tomodachi.
The statement from Nintendo, made to the Associated Press, reads:
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.”
For those unfamiliar with the game, Tomodachi Life is a life simulator for the 3DS much like EA’s The Sims and Linden Lab’s Second Life. Taking place on the fictional Chin Island, players take control of an avatar known as a Mii and interact with other fellow Miis.
The customization options for one’s Mii include being able to adjust its voice, which is spoken through the game’s vocal synthesizer, and crafting of its personality via a range of sliders. The range of activities players can engage in with one another include eating, trying on clothes, engage in musical numbers, and very prominently, falling in love and getting married.
It is from this ability to form relationships with other Miis that Tomodachi Life fan Tye Marini is having qualms with, as only heterosexual relationships are allowed in the game. In a video statement outlining his concerns, he states:
Being a gay male myself, this news is very disappointing to me. Now, the situation wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it weren’t for the fact that relationships and marriage are a huge part of the game. The relationships and interactions between the Mii characters in the game, coupled with their relation to you in real life are what makes this game so appealing. I wanna be able to marry my real life fiance’s Mii, but I can’t do that.
Marini, who is 23 years old and residing in Mesa, Arizona, launched a campaign last month called “Miiquality” in order to spur others to write to Nintendo to encourage them to update the game to allow same-sex relations.
Tomodachi Life was released exclusively in Japan, where gay marriage is not legal, on April 18 2013, selling 1.83 million copies as of last December. Due to its immense popularity, Nintendo decided to sell the game in other regions. “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,” reads the statement emailed to the AP.
Marini has made it abundantly clear that he is not calling for a boycott of Tomodachi Life. Instead, he seeks to simply raise awareness of the matter in hopes that Nintendo will consider a future update that rectifies the issue, or perhaps allow for same-sex relations in a sequel. Nintendo themselves have responded to the campaign, saying:
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.
Tomodachi Life will launch in North America on June 6, 2014 for the Nintendo 3DS.