Nintendo apologizes for failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life

Nintendo Headquarters. Photo courtesy of David Offf.

Nintendo apologized Friday May 9 for failing to included same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life, a a life simulation handheld video game that will be released June 6 2014.

The game takes place on an island inhabited by various Miis, which the player can import from their 3DS, other devices, or QR codes, or create from scratch using the 3DS’ camera or the in-game creation tools. These Miis can be given their own voice, which is spoken in vocal synthesizer software, and a unique personality based on slider inputs given.

Miis can then perform various actions, such as eating, doing leisurely activities, trying on different outfits, falling in love with someone– but only with the opposite sex.

According to Nintendo, 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.

Strangely, the ability to have participate in same-sex relationships can not be fixed with a simple patch. So the game will never support same-sex relationships, however Nintendo pledged that if they create a next installment in the Tomodachi series, they will “strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players.”

The reaction to the post on Facebook was mostly positive, with gamers praising the company for supporting gaming entertainment for all, while others asserted that the controversy was being blown out of proportion. This was the official statement:

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.

The Game Theorist recently did a really insightful video on how LGBT characters in video games are represented: