“Tomodachi” is Japanese for “Friend”, but Nintendo‘s set to lose some with the confirmation that the company will not be (re)adding same-sex relationships to Tomodachi Life. The 3DS life sim is preparing for a western release next month.
Tomodachi Life puts a cast of Mii characters together on a virtual island, where you can interact with your miniature community. You can even meet someone and fall in love – but only if your partner is not the same gender as you.
When Tomodachi Life launched in Japan (as Tomodachi Collection: New Life), it featured a bug that meant male characters could romance each other and eventually marry. Without hesitation, Nintendo Japan released an update that fixed these “Human relations that become strange“, preventing same-sex relationships.
When the company confirmed a western release of the game, Nintendo fans were quick in their attempts to change the company’s mind. A social media campaign – #Miiquality – popped up, gathering momentum in the weeks since the announcement.
However, Nintendo has stood firm, today releasing a public statement that it will not be changing the game from the Japanese version when it comes to relationships.
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.
The decision made a sort of sense in Japan (although even at the time, Japanese fans hoped the update would introduce female same-sex relationships, rather than ruling all of them out), where gay marriage is illegal.
However, with the game now setting a release date for western territories including North America and Europe – places where gay marriage is legal – it’s an illustration of the virtual world lagging behind the real one.
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.
In the meantime, if you would prefer an RPG/life sim that includes same-sex relationships, try the The Sims (which simply didn’t bother to take them out), or Star Wars: The Old Republic (which added them back in following gamer feedback).