It’s been a strange road for Tomodachi Life. The quirky relationship-focused Nintendo game has made a small splash in the press since its Nintendo Direct announcement last month, surrounding itself, Nintendo, and the LGBT community.
Read the full story under the cut.
Tomodachi Life is a Japanese game developed in-house by Nintendo, and is a direct sequel to the DS game “Friend (Tomodachi) Collection“. While the original was only released in Japan, the intention to bring Tomodachi Life to both Europe and the US was announced via Nintendo Direct on April 10, 2014. Due to its cute aesthetic, funny advertisement, and clever Nintendo Direct Presentation, interest bubbled throughout the internet, with memes and discussion popping up on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Then on May 30, 2014, 23-year-old Tye Marini released a video promoting a new movement: “Miiquality”.
Miiquality pointed out an obvious issue LGBT gamers were having with Tomodachi Life: As much as it was about relationships between Miis who hung out, had fun, and got married in the game…Miis could only date and marry members of the opposite sex. While there was a game-breaking bug that allowed male miis to marry and get pregnant in the Japanese version of the game (which also didn’t allow you to save and damaged your 3DS system, among other things), that was not only an unintentional game glitch, but patched as soon as Nintendo caught wind of it, not unlike the Lumiose City saving bug in Pokemon X and Y.
The movement hoped to convince Nintendo to change that in a patch, or at the very least ensure LGBT relationships in later sequels…without the use of boycotting.
“Boycotting the game would do more harm than it would good,” Marini said, “After all, if more people buy the game, the more likely Nintendo will be to consider an update or sequel.”
The Miiquality movement expanded and gathered steam, their exploits being brought up on message boards, news / blogging sites such as Kotaku, and, of course, social networking sites.
On May 7, Nintendo finally released a statement to news outlets in response to the Miiquality uproar: No.
“Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of Tomodachi Life,” Nintendo said in a statement, “[…]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.”
In other words: the localized Tomodachi Life will be the same game that was released in Japan, except translated in English (the game-breaking bug is likely to be fixed, though). LGBT marriage will not be implemented.
However, on May 9, Nintendo released another statement on Nintendo.com:
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.
People speculate that it was a response to the backlash given in response to the first statement (especially since it was made only two days later), however Nintendo has not hinted at it either way. All we know is that both sides have said their piece, and if any more Tomodachi titles are released, we may see a more inclusive experience in the future.
Tomodachi Life will be released for the 3DS in Europe and the US in June, 2014.