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Nintendo apologizes for not making  Tomodachi Life  more inclusive
Nintendo apologizes for not making Tomodachi Life more inclusive
May 9, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

Nintendo issued a formal statement today apologizing for not allowing same-sex relationships to take place in its 3DS relationship simulator Tomodachi Life.

Furthermore, Nintendo promises to try and be "more inclusive" when designing the next Tomodachi game, if there ever is one.

Earlier this week Nintendo publicly stated that it was "absolutely not trying to provide social commentary" with Tomodachi Life after Tye Marini started a fan campaign to convince Nintendo to update the game to allow for same-sex relationships to occur.

Nintendo confirmed in today's statement that it will not be issuing such a patch. We've taken the liberty of reprinting the full text of the statement below:

"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."

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Ron Dippold
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That's great. This is what they should have said in the first place.

'The design and code are already done, it would take too much work to change it now, we're sorry and will do better next time.' Much better than the dismissive initial response. I'm mollified, though I guess we'll see how Christian feels.

Edit: And as Ty points out down below, this was an actual apology, not a 'we're sorry you stupid customers misinterpreted our Puppy Torture (TM) feature as puppy torture'. You don't see that much.

Mike Griffin
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Posted by a newbie PR person, or someone very tired on a Friday.

When you let a spell checker change 'gameplay' into 'game-play' or 'game play' -- you should know better.
Here, official Nintendo PR has posted "game-play".

Seriously. It's not even being elitist. If you've been in the industry long enough, you've encountered a spell check trying to 'fix' Gameplay numerous times. It's that old mainstay. You know it well.

The game industry owns that word and writes it one way. Probably for 25+ years now.
If not, you've blindly clicked 'change all' to a spell check or willingly accepted the change -- not knowing better.

Sorry, being a terribly off topic troll.

On topic: Glad Nintendo PR is acknowledging this issue and aiming to do better in the future. Next time with more inclusive game-play. Er, gameplay.

Amir Barak
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heh, I remember the first time a spellchecker gave me that warning I was like, "what the heck is wrong with this program, I KNOW the word gameplay is correct".

And yes, it's nice to see Nintendo acknowledging the issue. Shame it took them so long to it. But better late than never.

Michael Williams
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I still think this was blown way out of proportion.

Andrew Brozek
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I think that Samantha Allen piece on Polygon was a bit...much.

But for the most part I think this was a totally sane and reasonable campaign. It seems to me it just wanted acknowledgement, which is what it got in the end. The tagline of the game is "Your friends. Your drama. Your life." so I really think Nintendo is inviting it on itself when it is really saying "Your friends. Your drama. Your life. Unless you're gay."

To me, the drama really started when it issued it's first press release when it stated that including a real group of human beings that exist in our world was a "political statement." That does seem like a problematic way of thinking, no?

Michael Williams
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This was kinda of a complicated problem and they didn't want to a part of the discussion. that is all I got out of it of the press release.

Eric Harris
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Yeah all this over a bug fix.

Dane MacMahon
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@ Andrew

Stuff like "bigoted heart of Nintendo" and "fills me with bitterness and dread." Yeah, I would say she went overboard.

Both sides of these issues are fully capable of sounding silly.

Andy Lundell
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Sometimes you can't NOT be "part of the discussion." If you make a work about marriage, how you define marriage will MAKE you part of the discussion.

This is especially true especially when the goal of one "side" of the discussion is to make everyone ignore the discussion and go back to the way things were before.

Michael Williams
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only Siths deal in absolutes.

Amir Barak
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Actually that's not true, only Jedi deal with absolutes, the Sith are pretty much about the grey area of life (as seen by the now not-canon trick they pulled on Jacen - which was crappy writing).

Eric Harris
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Well said Nintendo. Now back to the games!

Ty Underwood
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HUGE thing to point out, they didn't blame their audience in the apology.

There's a massive difference between "we apologize for disappointing many people" and "we apologize that you felt disappointed" Do you see it? The difference between apologizing for your actions and passive aggressively blaming your fans for their feelings? Good job on that.

I still think they should patch it, though.

Andy Lundell
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There's a real possibility that they *can't* patch it.

(Which seems short-sighted in this day and age, but Nintendo is old fashioned in a lot of ways, so it wouldn't be too surprising.)

Ron Dippold
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Big upvote for pointing out that it was an actual sincere apology. You don't see that much any more.

Victor Wintons
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Even if they could feasibly patch the game, adding LGBT characters in a patch would cause an even bigger uproar than never including them in the first place did.

Gregory Booth
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*goes back to game development*

Gern Blanston
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After their first BS response, they finally did the right thing. One step at a time.

Walter Verburg
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The idea that they can't patch it seems strange to me. I haven't made anything for the 3DS, but shouldn't this be a really simple patch? I find it a bit hard to believe that they can't, and feel like they are still shying away from angering the anti-LGBT folk, and hiding this by claiming impotence.

That said, I think this is all we will get from them, and considering the day and age. It's acceptable, I guess.

Eric Harris
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They can't Walter. Its business, but give it time. Some people still have to define marriage first before Nintendo can successfully implement it virtually. So yes no one will be satisfied in this day and age with what they do.

Ron Dippold
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It turns out to not be quite as easy as just removing the same sex check. Your Mii marries someone /at random/ (check out Christian's article). You can't just choose.

So in that case you have to ask the user what genders you want their Mii to be able to marry then make those checks (instead of removing them) and adjust the genders in the relationship conversations.

I'm sure it's doable, and it's easy if you plan for it up front, but now that's a lot more structural work than it first seemed like.

Eric Salmon
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Personally, I don't think they needed any checks. The mechanic was ABOUT funny, random pairings.

Of course, I realize that they would have alienated a large part of their target audience (and probably would have taken heat for "playing off gay marriage as a punchline" even though it's doing the same thing with straight marriage now).

Brad Borne
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Except everything in the game is random. Can suddenly anyone marry anyone else? Is it treated as a scandal? Can someone come out in the game?


Does Nintendo add a 'homosexual' checkbox for every single Mii in the game?

Would there be controversy over players making celebrities gay who aren't gay and vice versa?

Can a gay Mii then fall in love with a straight Mii? Can a Mii be convinced to switch sides by another Mii? Do gay Miis adopt? Does a gay Mii exhibit traits of the other gender? Do we now need a bisexual option? Does a Mii get depressed if they're the only gay Mii on the island?

Can parents turn off same sex relationships in Parental Controls? Would there be a backlash for that option? Backlash for not having that option? Would parents be up in arms if their kid's Mii suddenly turned gay by random chance?

Everyone seems to be thinking about this from the coding side. Sure, remove a check... Then what happens? The game design side is where it gets complex.

Eric Salmon
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It's only a game design problem if you introduce bias. Otherwise most of the questions are already addressed by the original design.

"Can suddenly anyone marry anyone else? Is it treated as a scandal? Can someone come out in the game?"

Males can already marry any females, and females can already marry any males. Is it treated as a scandal when Miis who are already married or in relationships marry someone else in the game?

As far as coming out, I'd say this: if homosexuality is a trait chosen at a start screen, then it's essentially chosen at birth in the design scheme. There's no need for it to change. "Coming out" is a result of societal pressure forcing people to pretend to be something they're not, and doesn't really have a place in a whimsical setting. I'll also say this was already addressed (or ignored) by the game design, by disallowing gender changes. Both are symptoms of the same issue: in real life, we can't choose our gender or sexuality, and we also can't choose how society expects us to behave based on those qualities. This is mitigated in the game by allowing us to choose our gender, a courtesy which should be extended to sexuality.

"Does Nintendo add a 'homosexual' checkbox for every single Mii in the game?"

This again can be related to gender. We already have male/female checkboxes, so the existing design dictates that we also have homosexual/straight checkboxes. I don't think they're actually necessary (and the design would be simpler WITHOUT them), but the designers made the decision already.

"Would there be controversy over players making celebrities gay who aren't gay and vice versa?"

Yes. Just as there was controversy over forcing gay players to be straight, and players making celebrities straight who aren't. It's worth facing controversy to be inclusive.

"Can a gay Mii then fall in love with a straight Mii? Can a Mii be convinced to switch sides by another Mii?"

This is roughly equivalent to being seduced by someone you have 0 sexual attraction toward. The game design says "YES!" (as part of the funny pairings mechanic).

"Do gay Miis adopt?"

Do Miis have children? And how do they have children? They lay together, dream, and poof a baby appears. The game design already chose not to show the process by which the baby appears in the house, so showing an adoption process is unnecessary.

"Does a gay Mii exhibit traits of the other gender?"

That's borderline offensive. The equivalent question is "Does {individual being stereotyped} act like {stereotype}?" The answer is, obviously, no.

"Do we now need a bisexual option?"

The answer is no, because we already allowed random, 0-attraction pairings.

"Does a Mii get depressed if they're the only gay Mii on the island?"
Does a male Mii get depressed if there are no female Miis on the island?
Does a female Mii get depressed if there are no male Miis on the island?

Hopefully, that illustrates the point a bit more clearly. I think it's clear that most of the complexities on the design side only result from treating homosexuals as weird and hard to understand when it's just a different kind of sexual attraction.