Nintendo and its subsidiary, Nintendo of America, have both been the subject of scrutiny and criticism recently, regarding Nintendo’s announcement that the forthcoming English port of Tomodachi Life, a 3DS Life Simulator, will not feature same-sex inclusivity.
As a refresher, the announcement came about as a response to last month’s Twitter campaign that wanted to promote virtual equality in the game by utilizing the hashtag #Miiquality.
Nintendo didn’t want to make any sort of social commentary about inclusivity in its game, and that it just wanted the game to be “a playful alternative world,” but not being inclusive was in itself making a social comment, as was pointed out by the campaign’s leader Tye Marini, a gay male who wanted to be able to marry his fiancé’s Mii in the game.
Graciously, after a few days, Nintendo then issued an apology for not including the option to engage in same-sex relationships, and in that apology the company pledged that both it and its subsidiary will be committed to including virtual equality in future installments to the Tomodachi series, should any be developed.
Personally, I commend Nintendo for recognizing that people are requesting virtual equality in Tomodachi Life, and I praise its promise of being more inclusive in future titles of the series. However, in this modern gaming world where the titles of today are patched frequently with fixes and new features, you’d think the same could be done for Tomodachi Life to include same-sex relationships, right?
In Nintendo’s explanation as to why it can’t include same-sex relationships into the English version of the game in its apology statement, it pointed out that it is not possible to change the game’s design because the game itself was too far into its development. Including same-sex relationships would require being built from the ground up, and not just slapped on in some patch (gotta give it some justice, like).
Tomodachi Life’s end-goal is to fall in love with a Mii of the opposite sex and have children, which is relatively easy when the physical biology of sexes are compatible for that purpose: male plus female, plus sex of some semantic description, equals baby. That mechanic has already been designed into the game.
However, for sexes whose biology for the purpose is actually impossible, be it male and male or female and female, producing a child will be more than a little difficult. In order for same-sex couples to have a child--as far as I’m aware--they’d need to either look into adoption or look into sperm donations, whether they want to bring in a child from an orphanage or find a surrogate mother--or even be the mother if we’re talking female same-sex relationships, which would then require a sperm donation (unless they’re adopting).
Those kind of mechanics have not been designed into the game, and for another Tomodachi installment to include same-sex relationships it would have to be designed from the ground up with those mechanics in mind.
That’s only scratching the surface on the matter; what about the myriad of other sexual and gender identifications? For a more broader blanket of virtual equality, these kinds of identities will have to be included, too--along with respective mechanics where applicable.
Say, for example, players want to have a polyamorous relationship; a mechanic would have to be implemented to allow a player to have one or more romantic interests. What about players whose Miis are anywhere on the asexual spectrum? A bunch of mechanics would have to be introduced for that, too--to allow for them interact with the game and other Miis accordingly.
The game would also have to be designed to be representative of the identity you want to be in mind, either for yourself or your Mii. This could include various dialogue alterations respective to what you/your Mii identifies as, such as preferred pronouns and such the like.
Sexuality and sexual/gender identity is what it is: your identity. It’s who you are or who you may become if given the opportunity to explore. So, having an accurate virtual representation of yourself is one of the perks of the Life Simulator genre, and it’s understandable why players would be perturbed by the lack of inclusion.
Should Nintendo have thought of inclusivity when it designed Tomodachi Life? Well, that depends if you want to bring Western and Eastern culture and societal preferences and constructs (not to mention laws) into the arguement, but I know too little on either side so I’m not going to. Regardless, it would’ve been nice if Nintendo did when developing the English version. However, as explained in the company’s apology statement, it was too late to add such inclusivity to the tite.
Having said that, it’s good to see that a campaign about inclusive equality had a positive outcome, and I’m happy to know that Nintendo will bring virtual equality into the next installment to the Tomodachi series, should one come around.