Nintendo's "Tomodachi Life" Controversy
In May of 2014, controversy surrounded Nintendo following dismissive statements towards a Twitter hashtag campaign for the inclusion of same-sex relationships in the North American release of their "virtual life simulator" Tomodachi Life. The lack of non-heteronormative relationships is especially problematic for this game, as it involves creating in-game "Mii" versions of real-life individuals and watching their interactions - including blossoming romances - with other Miis.
The controversy began a full year before the North American release of the game, when the Japanese version had a bug that allowed male characters to marry each other and have children: Brian Ashcraft on Kotaku: Aug. 5, 2013: Rumor: Bug Makes Gay Marriage Possible in Nintendo Game. The bug was eventually removed, with Nintendo's explanation featured in this article by Wesley Copeland on his personal blog: Nintendo Explains Why It Patched Same-sex Relationships in Tomodachi Life
When the game was announced for North American release, a 23-year old fan by the name of Tye Marini launched a Twitter campaign asking for the company to include same-sex relationships in the English version. In response to the campaign, Nintendo released a statement that can be found in the following article by Derrik J. Lang on The Associated Press: Nintendo says "no" to virtual equality in life simulator game
Responses to the statement were supremely negative, especially when critics discovered the bug that Nintendo had removed. Critical discussion of the incident can be found below:
- Samantha Allen on Polygon: May 7, 2014: Nintendo's 'whimsical' simulation erases an entire population of players, and that's intolerable
- Christian Nutt on Gamasutra: May 8, 2014: Understanding Nintendo's Tomodachi Life problem
- Chuck Jordan on Spectre Collie: May 10, 2014: So Much Effort
- Todd Harper on Polygon: May 22, 2014: Erasing your audience isn't 'fun': The false choice between diversity and enjoyment
- Zoya Street on Medium: May 23, 2014: Impossible, impermissable and queer
The conflict effectively ended when Nintendo responded, admitting it would be too difficult to implement same-sex relationships in the current game, but pledging to make sure the next game in the series, if there is one, "better represents all players". The full statement can be found on Nintendo's website here.