GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

May 9, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

GLAAD (an advocacy group for people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] community) issued a statement yesterday lambasting Nintendo for not including a same-sex relationship option in its 3DS game, Tomodachi Life. Nintendo's Mii-based "life simulator" for 3DS releases on June 6 in the United States.

Fans in the United States and Europe are upset that there's no same-sex relationship options in the game, so they asked Nintendo to add them. In response, Nintendo issued a statement that seemed to do the company more harm than good with the LGBT community and those who support it:

"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 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 its response, GLAAD says that Nintendo is in fact making a "social statement favoring opposite-sex relationships over same-sex ones," and that the company's decision is outside of societal norms.

"In Nintendo’s 'playful alternate world,' our relationships do not exist as they do in “real-life,” and LGBT players get the message that we aren’t welcome in that world."

GLAAD closes its statement on the matter by noting that games such as The Sims series, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, The Elder Scrolls, and Fable have included same-sex relationships, and even AAA titles like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto have included narratives about same sex relationships.

The group closes by saying that it has reached out to Nintendo and will let the community know if there are any further developments on this topic.

"Nintendo would be taking a positive step forward and invite more players to join in," the group said in closing." GLAAD has reached out to Nintendo, and will update if there are any further developments."

Source: GLAAD.org by way of Andrew Eisen


Comments

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

The Elder Scrolls, and Fable

Where the relationships have zero depth. Yes they were included, but there isn't much there.

 

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

True though it may be, and certainly a valid criticism in and of itself, in the context of this story, that's not the point.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

I realize that, but if they are okay with something that superficial all Nintendo need do is remove the gender check. I would have stuck to Mass Effect, at least there they put some thought into it. I don't know about the Sims, never played it.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

The Sims 4 just got an 18+ rating in Russia rather than 12+ like the previous ones because of this.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

Don't people realize that it is entirely possible that the devs weren't even thinking of the issue when they made the game? Not everyone is constantly thinking on LGBT issues. You don't really think on stuff you perceive as normal, nor do you really ever think of how it might not to others, or that it might not be fair.

As for adding it in, chances are it's not as simple as flipping a switch. They would have to a bit of programming, and then quite a bit of testing, which they've already done so far with the soon incoming English release. There isn't enough time to add it by the release date. At best they could add it in afterwards. But there is a chance they won't cause the devs and/or Tree House will be busy with other projects.

There is a old web based life simulator out there, called Alter Ego. The dev has gone on record and said that they would like to add homosexual and bisexual relationships to the game, but, and I quote:

"As you can see, this is no small project; we really hope we get the time to add this in some day, but it won't be any time soon. Indeed, it may come after other easier features have been added in" - source: http://www.playalterego.com/wishlist.html

Even if Tomodachi Life isn't as complex in terms of options as Alter Ego, it does represent the point that adding something like this in, would require time and money, which the Devs or Tree House don't have options for.

This doesn't really excuse Nintendo's public statements, but more on the behind the scenes reasons.

 

Now onto other possible sides of the issue. Money and PR. Nintendo at least in the US, is considered to be 'kid and family friendly'. LGBT issues are a very hot topic at the moment. Let's take a peak at the universe where they had added in same-sex into the game.

They would be hit with a torrent of hate and bad PR from a lot of people. News organizations like Fox would probably put out a headline of "Family Friendly Company makes non-Wholesome Family Value Game for Kids", implying that they are forcing kids use their avatars to have same sex marriage instead of opposite-sex.

Then a group of people would be outraged at Nintendo, calling for boycotts. All the while, besides the LGBT groups, the majority of people that support the option in the game wouldn't confront those that are calling out on Nintendo. There are three main reasons why they might not confront those people.

One, they are in a community that doesn't have much in terms of the people up in arms.

Two, they don't like to talk to politics because that is a quite way to get people to hate you, not matter the subject in politics.

Three, they are in a community that doing so would oust them and gain them hate from a lot of people, including their neighbors or family.

I think I got off track slightly on what I was saying in this part. To sum it up, it was basically that the counter protests to the protests against a decision like this would unlikely big enough for Nintendo. It would have to be as big if not larger to the protest against, to show to Nintendo that they had made the right decision.

 

And in terms of money, if you were a big company, and something you were going to do was going to upset one of two groups, which would you upset? The larger group or the smaller group? There was no way to make both happy, but you had to choose one of them. Chances are, the larger group would be picked, leaving the smaller group behind. It doesn't necessarily mean it was the right choice socially, but from a business standpoint, it makes sense. You'll lose less money that way.

In this situation it's the LGBT community and support that is the smaller group. However, the good news is, that in 10, 20, at most 30 years from now, the group that supports LGBT will likely be the larger of the group. It doesn't help in the Now, but in the Now you tackle the issues and inform people.

----

That is basically what I see is possibly what is going on in this situation. People shouldn't be so quick to just call for blood. Calling for blood on every single little thing, even if it was innocent to begin with, does not help on the issues. Nintendo probably should of been clearer on it's statements, but it feels like the statement of them not altering the code could mean that they don't have time nor resources to do so.

If you dislike something I said, please don't just hit the dislike, please also reply, I'd like to know what you have issues with in what I said, and maybe we can discuss it. A lot was touched in this post.

╔╦═╣Signature Statement╠═╦╗

If you don't like something I said in a post, don't just hit the dislike, let me know your thoughts! I'm interested in knowing everyone's opinions, even when they don't mesh with my own.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

Wow, that's a lot of stuff you wrote there.  Here we go!
 
"Don't people realize that it is entirely possible that the devs weren't even thinking of the issue when they made the game?"
 
Of course they do but not thinking about it is a problem that needs to be corrected.
 
"As for adding it in, chances are it's not as simple as flipping a switch."
 
Entirely possible.  That's why the movement is politely asking for a patch.  Or, if that's not feasible, for it to be added in future games.
 
"[Nintendo] would be hit with a torrent of hate and bad PR from a lot of people."
 
Unlikely.  The Sims is arguably just as "kid and family friendly" and it's suffered no significant backlash over the inclusiveness it's boasted since The Sims 2.
 
I'd put money on the bad PR Nintendo is receiving now being more impactful.
 
"And in terms of money, if you were a big company, and something you were going to do was going to upset one of two groups, which would you upset?"
 
Me personally?  I'd do the right thing.
 
That said, I see no evidence that Nintendo would lose a significant number of sales to miserable bigots who can't brook inclusiveness.
 
"People shouldn't be so quick to just call for blood."
 
No one's calling for blood.
 
 
Andrew Eisen

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

In its response, GLAAD says that Nintendo is in fact making a "social statement favoring opposite-sex relationships over same-sex ones,"

Even if Nintendo are doing that, seriously, what's wrong with it?

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

Because that's wrongheaded.

It's also bad good business for a company servicing a global market to not strive to be as inclusive as possible.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

wrongheaded in terms of "misrepresentation of society" or in terms of "shouldn't favour opposite-sex relationships over same-sex ones"

If it's the former, I'm more willing to dive into it (if I have the time, mood, and patience), if it's the latter, we'll agree to disagree.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

The latter is what the original statement said so, yeah, the latter.  But also the former and also a slew of other reasons.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

Because it's a big company "making a statement" on a hot button issue that journalists LOVE to use for clickbait.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

Or because even though it is a minor instance it ties into a larger social struggle for recognition and equality of 6% of the population?

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

"How DARE Nintendo fix a potentially game breaking bug if it means they automatically take a stand on a hot button issue! How DARE they provide quality service! How DARE they have an opinion that's different from mine because they have a different cultural background than me! They are literally, and without hyperbole, infinity bajillion times worse than Satan!"

Pretty much how the entire #miiquality movement thinks.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

It should also be noted that just because they did it in Japan does not mean it is ok there either. 

I have heard claims of 'well, it is ok because of Japanese culture' and 'I understand why they did not do it there, but here is different', but I suspect there are people over there annoyed that they were erased from yet another social environment too.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

Actually, no.  That's not even remotely the movement's position.

No one's upset that Nintendo fixed a bug.  The criticism is twofold: same-sex marriage should have been part of the design in the first place and Nintendo's response was culturally tone-deaf.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

You can probably drop the 'culturally' part of that tone deaf.    The problem of all (or nearly all) heterosexual male development environments is cross cultural and tends to be blind to a lot of things that are not, well, them.  It is amazing when Japanese teams even remember to include people of colour in their game populations.

Though one thing that is different here is non-normal groups are in much better shape to speak up, the situation in Japan tends to be pretty bad.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

Or, you know, they could be offended by the implications of a prominent first-party title set in a "playful alternate world" in which gays and lesbians don't exist except as the result of a fundamental error which must be corrected.

Just a thought.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

Pretty much this, since a lot of loudmouths see homosexuality as a disease that must be fixed at all costs, if the existence of "conversion therapy" is anything t ogo by.

Re: GLAAD Issues Statement on 'Tomodachi Life'

And while it is a bit 'one off', probably the biggest reason public opinion regarding homosexuality has shifted so much over the last 20 years is because it became so much more visible.   Seeing gay people just living their lives being people that one can relate to did a lot for taking it out of the 'menace hiding in the shadows, inhuman monsters!' category.

Which is actually why stuff like this, even though it seems inconsequential, gets attention.  If visibility and being seen in the same roles 'normal' people inhabit helped to normalize homosexuality, cases where they are erased or left out in the first place undermine that.   This is esp important in domains that children or young adults might be seeing since it is a lot easier to get people fearing/hating when they only see examples of some group in terms of 'otherness' and not 'people like us'.

 
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