Nintendo Insults Gay Gamers, Now Here’s What You Can Do About It

Tomodachi-CollectionNew-Life_gayx400_0A few weeks ago, we wrote about Tomodachi Life, a Sims-like game that’s coming out next month. Unlike a lot of modern life-sims, it doesn’t allow characters to fall in love with anyone of the same gender. That’s pretty lame, and gaymers started a #miiquality campaign to try to persuade the company to make the game more inclusive.

But unfortunately, Nintendo has now responded with an incredibly tone-deaf misstep.

Not only do they have no plans to allow gay characters, but a statement from the company suggests that the existence of gay people is “social commentary.” Eek!

“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.”

Look, we are actually sympathetic to Nintendo here. This almost certainly was not a deliberately malicious act. We suspect it’s a blind spot brought about by straight privilege and cultural bias.

The game was developed in Japan, where LGBTs are far more closeted than they are in the US. To a heterosexual Japanese developer, it is not unreasonable that it would simply not occur to them that they should include gay couples. (In fact, last year another version of the game had an importing error that assigned genders to characters when you carried them over from other games. Sometimes it would assign the wrong gender, which meant that men could get pregnant and marry men. Despite users enjoying the bug, Nintendo patched it, and then used the unfortunate language “relationships becoming strange” to describe it.)

Now, the game has been localized to the United States, which means the language was changed but not a significant amount of code. The game was pretty much already done by the time the #miiquality campaign started, so there’s not much Nintendo could change at that point. We get it!

The real problem here is their dreadful, insulting press release, which feels like something written by someone who does not know if they have ever actually met a gay person.

There are two ways to interpret their vague “not trying to provide social commentary” non-pology:

  1. Do they mean that they were trying to avoid social commentary when they designed the game? If so, Nintendo is saying that they intentionally excluded LGBT characters because they consider our very existence to be social commentary.
  2. Or do they mean that excluding us was not, as it appears, an attempt at social commentary by Nintendo? If so, Nintendo is saying that their exclusion of LGBT characters was an unintentional social commentary on their part.

Which one is it? We fear that it’s the former, but hope that it’s the latter. The words “sorry” and “apology” never appear, for what it’s worth.

Nintendo’s other mistake was omitting any mention of the company’s commitment to diversity or LGBT employee groups. This is fairly boiler-plate stuff for any apology for slighting a minority group, so it’s weird that the company didn’t throw in a few words about valuing everyone despite our differences, blah blah blah.

We’re not accusing Nintendo of America of being homophobic. It’s just that the prior corporate background of the company’s President and COO’s is marketing for Pizza Hut, so he probably isn’t used to dealing with stuff like this.

Well, there’s never been a better time to learn. Their statement also says, “We’re using this as an opportunity to better understand our consumers and their expectations of us at all levels of the organization.”

Meanwhile, gaymers don’t have to just sit back and feel miffed. You can still let Nintendo know how you feel by taking their “Thinking about these games?” survey, open to any member of Club Nintendo. Just let them know that you don’t plan to get Tomodachi Life because it excludes gay couples.

Alternately, you could write angry blog posts about it. That’s good too.

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  • hex0

    Who still plays nintendo? My life is not a “social commentary” assholes.

  • Chevelter

    Soon to become the boycott of the day. NEXT.

  • Tookietookie123

    I’m surprised they’d rather just act like gay people don’t exist altogether instead of just adding them, it’s not like it shows gay sex on the game does it? Coming from a company that basically made mine and many other’s childhood, I hate to say that I’m disappointed.

  • barkomatic

    Nintendo is going down anyway. Their console pretty much bombed compared to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. They are irrelevant.

  • Mezaien

    Nintendo, K.C.U.F pigs anyway! are they Japanese?.

  • xonod

    Though I wish Nintendo would reconsider I must firmly disagree with the presumptuous statement in the article. There is definitely a third option. And that is simply that Nintendo developed the game for entertainment abs not social commentary and that they are neutral on the topic. This can only be taken as offensive if you are looking to be offended. However, I would understand if someone suggested that their posture would be more well received if they included the gay relationships, because that would appear more neutral on the issue. Still, don’t think this was malicious. And I don’t think we should read so much into the response. It does appear however that they could use some encouragement. It may even be culturally liberating for them. Or it might be culturally damaging.

  • hotshot70

    I had the game Bully, where you play a kid with bad attitude sent to a school (made by same ones who did the GTA series) and I was able to have my character make out with one of the preppy boys. I think they should allow same sex coupling, but make sure the men cannot get pregnant, the lesbian couple can adopt, etc.

  • robirob

    Dear Nintendo, that’s like saying that public prayers are no social commentary. Every action, every commercial release, every art has social commentary attachment(s).

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