Nintendo says there’s no place for gay marriage in its “playful alternate world”

Nintendo says there’s no place for gay marriage in its “playful alternate world”

As seen in this promotional image, Nintendo will allow players to marry pig-person schoolchildren in Tomodachi Life, as long as they are of the opposite sex. (Image: Nintendo)
As seen in this promotional image, Nintendo will allow players to marry pig-person schoolchildren in Tomodachi Life, as long as they are of the opposite sex. (Image: Nintendo)

Saying that its developers “never intended to make any form of social commentary,”  Nintendo has rejected fan requests to include a gay-marriage option in the English-language release of its simulation game Tomodachi Life. In Tomodachi Life, players experience a virtual existence (in the guise of their Mii avatar) on an island populated by “friends, family, and celebrities.” But when word spread that the marriage privileges in Tomodachi Life extend only to heterosexual virtual couples, a “#Miiequality”campaign sprang up to lobby for equality. Nintendo fan Tye Marini told the Associated Press that he launched the campaign after realizing there’s no way for him to marry his real life fiancé in the game, and that much like life, getting married in the game would give him “exclusive content” he couldn’t get otherwise. 

In a statement, Nintendo said they heard and “thoughtfully considered” the fans’ outrage, but the original Japanese game didn’t include code for same-sex relationships, and Tomodachi Life was always meant to be “a whimsical and quirky game” anyway—as evidenced by the fact that it resembles what would happen if the Sims were replaced by those Bitstrips cartoons your high school friends never stopped posting on Facebook. Nintendo then said that the game “never intended to make any form of social commentary,” the classic clumsy PR move of game studios caught in a controversy—they’re happy to claim games’ relevance to the broader culture until that relevance gets them in a bind, and then suddenly we’re just talking about dumb, fanciful video games, so what’s the big deal, everybody?

Nintendo further argued that “the relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world” where there are no same-sex relationships, “rather than a real life simulation,” where there would inevitably be same-sex relationships. And who is Tye Marini to deny everyone the playful fun of gay marriage not existing? So when Tomodachi Life finally does premiere, Nintendo fans can expect to cavort on a magical island where they can shop, camp out, have rap battles, launch into space, and experience the improbable but perfect combination of “candy apples, flying burgers, and Shaq.” Anything’s possible, so as long as it’s not a dude marrying another dude.

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