Nintendo stumbles into a political minefield with Tomodachi Life

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Tomodachi Life, Nintendo’s 3DS life sim, will not have homosexual characters. The game, which was originally released in Japan in 2013, will launch in North America and Europe on June 6, 2014 without official support for LGBT relationships, an oversight that gay and lesbian gamers as well as GLAAD are calling a “hurtful message to many of its fans and consumers.”

Tye Marini, a Nintendo fan from Arizona, spearheaded the “Miiquality” campaign a month ago when he learned that Tomodachi Life would not allow same-sex couples. In his initial video complaint, Marini points out that The Sims, which has a similar “life-sim” premise, has allowed homosexual couplings since the series launched in 2008.

“I want to be able to marry my real-life fiance’s Mii, but I can’t do that. My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiance’s Mii, or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it.”

Nintendo’s response to the controversy hasn’t placated people calling for a change.

“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.”

“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.”

A trick used by Japanese players to simulate homosexual marriage in Tomodachi Life is to switch the gender of one of their Mii characters after the relationship is established. Gay marriage is not legal in Japan, but is legal in parts of the US and Europe.

UPDATE: Nintendo has posted an apology and a promise to feature a “more inclusive” design if they make another game for Tomodachi Life.