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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tomodachi Life and Same Sex Marriage

So for those of you who haven't been following the progress of Tomodochi Life, you have a lot to catch up on. The game, which actually looks stupid and fun, has got into a bit of hot water recently when it came out that same sex marriage isn't possible in the game. 

So during the uproar that this inevitably caused there were people taking, essentially, two points of argument. 
Opinion 1) It's not Nintendo's job to make a social statement with a game. 
Opinion 2) It's 2014, this is not a social statement, it's just a fact of life. 

I find myself hovering between these two points. I do think that this should not be a social statement at all. I agree that same sex relationships are simply a cultural norm now. A norm that we should embrace, as humans. That finally we can appreciate love... between a man and woman, woman and woman or man and man. Love is beautiful and should be celebrated. 

I am also a realist. To think that including this wouldn't be a social statement is naive. Tell me that you would be surprised seeing the Fox news headline: "Liberal game encourages your kids to be gay". Then listening to a bunch of idiots discussing how they are indoctrinating children. 

My point is that I wish every company was more inclusive but I won't force them to make those decisions. I may, however, show them how I feel on the issue, with my wallet. 

There is, of course, the other option is that it was a stupid oversight by Nintendo. They released a statement saying: 
"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."

This is the best response they could give, "We fucked up. We won't allow it to happen in later instalments". No PR bullshit or anything like that, just an admission of guilt. It is also definitely better than their original statement, which was:
"Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of Tomodachi Life," 

Not the best response but I think I have addressed this above. What we should definitely not do is make sweeping generalisations of Nintendo. This is exactly what we saw in a Polygon article: "Nintendo doesn't need to justify its exclusions on its own; it can simply leverage the weight of a shared heteronormative worldview that sees same-sex relationships as deviant and other." 

Exclusion =/= Deviance. I share the sentiment of the author, and the article was well written but I think that shaming Nintendo for this does us no good. Likening Nintendo to bigots for excluding (purposely or accidentally) same-sex marriage is not right and should not be leapt to so easily. 

I could continue this article for another few thousand words but I will end with this:
I wish Nintendo included same-sex marriage, I mean, it's 2014. I will not, however, liken them to homophobes for the exclusion. I will simply not buy their product. 
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