Last month, Nintendo put out a really weird Direct about the localization of the upcoming 3DS title Tomodachi Life. It’s a life sim where players can bring their Miis to life, interact with others, build relationships and get married. The only issue is, there is no same sex marriage. That’s why Tye Marini started Miiquality—a movement to get Nintendo so support same sex marriage in Tomodachi Life.
Gay marriage is a touchy subject almost anywhere, not just in gaming. But Marini believes it’s something that needs to be discussed in the gaming world. “I want people to know that the LGBT community exists and there’s a lot of gamers out there,” says Marini. It’s an even bigger one to him when most of the game relies on building relationships. He’d like to see Nintendo add a patch to the North American release that would allow couples of the same gender to get married. There was a time when the Japanese version launched that the game did allow same sex couples to get married and have children, but it wasn’t intended. A glitch caused save issues and messed up the game, so Nintendo added a patch to fix it.
For Marini, the sense of immersion is broken with the exclusion. In the game, players' Miis become friends, date and get married. As a homosexual man, Marini can’t date the gender he’s attracted to in the game. He can change the gender of his Mii, or the gender of his fiancé’s Mii. Another option is to skip out on getting married all together. He feels like those aren’t really solutions to the issue. So, He started a thread on NeoGAF and made a YouTube video. That was the start of the movement. Shortly after the video uploaded, it was taken down. He uploaded it again on the Miiquality YouTube page, and it was taken down again. Marini says the video streaming service believed it had deceptive content or it got flagged by enough people for YouTube to take action. “It was discouraging,” says Marini, “but overall it was a minor setback.” Since then he’s posted it on Vimeo where the video hasn’t been taken down, and it’s made its away around the Internet.
He understands that in situations like this, many game companies choose to ignore the issue instead of using their games as a political platform. That’s essentially what Nintendo said on the matter. “Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of Tomodachi Life,” says Nintendo of America in a statement. “We hope that all 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.”
Marini can see where Nintendo is coming from, but he isn't really impressed with the response. “I think Nintendo's statement is pretty much a non-answer. They don't really address the main issue here, which is the fact that LGBT people cannot fully enjoy the game and all of its content due to the lack of same-sex relationships," says Marini, "Nintendo says that they 'will continue to listen and think about the feedback,' but they've shown no signs that they will look into supporting same-sex relationships via an update to Tomodachi Life or in future titles." Until that happens, the 23 year old will continue to raise awareness about the issue through Miiquality.
Tomodachi Life launches in North America on June 6. 2014.