Nintendo Responds (Terribly) To Gay Marriage Petition

Nintendo Responds (Terribly) To Gay Marriage Petition

Earlier this week, we helped publicise a fan-made petition that set out to get gay marriage support in the upcoming Nintendo game Tomodachi Life, which allows players to hang out and start relationships in a weird, surreal alternate universe habitated by Mii characters. Nintendo has responded to that petition with a statement to the AP, and it’s truly tone-deaf.

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 localise it for other regions outside of Japan.

Of course, denying gay people the right to get married in a game about relationships and marriage is itself “social commentary”.

Nintendo went on, according to the Associated Press:

We have heard and thoughtfully considered all the responses. We will continue to listen and think about the feedback. We’re using this as an opportunity to better understand our consumers and their expectations of us at all levels of the organization. We have been looking to broaden our approach to development whenever possible as we put all our energy into continuing to develop fun games that will surprise and delight players.


  • So their answer is “Sorry but the game is already made, all we can do is localise it, but we’ll try to keep our minds more open in the future”.

    Maybe if they were still actually making the game then sure you could get them to change it, but if it’s already done then Nintendo’s response doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me.

    Edit: Ok, I’ll admit there was more to the situation that I wasn’t aware of. If people were getting angry about this statement on its own, then I’d disagree with the opposition, but considering people had already found a way to trick the game in a convenient bug that let them marry the same sex, and Nintendo actually went back and patched that out (to fix fixed “human relations that become strange”, come on Nintendo, really?). Considering that happened before this statement was released, then I can understand why people are getting pretty annoyed about it.

    • Yeah.
      I’ll be accused of being a big old privileged meanie, but this is starting to look like a storm in a teacup.

      • I’ll admit, the response is a bit long-winded and weak when it starts talking about social commentary, but the follow up paragraph seems to be a direct acknowledgement by Nintendo that they’ll try to be more mindful of peoples opinions. Doesn’t seem that fair to start chastising Nintendo about it.

        • This is Nintendo though, very good at apologising for things, not so good at actually doing anything about them. It would take more then their word for me to believe that.

    • Never in the history of mankind has a game been able to receive an update. Oh if only we had the technology!

    • It’s sensationalist garbage. Trivialising a real issue with an unwarranted call to arms.

  • “Terribly”. Their response is completely reasonable. Think about it rationally for a second.There’s nothing wrong with the response. People can’t expect every single group to be represented in absolutely everything that’s created. It’s just an unreasonable, irrational way to think about creativity.

    • exactly. It’s so annoying how self-entitled people keep on complaining about stuff like this. You don’t like it, don’t buy it and don’t go there. Not every single thing was created to please you. I don’t go to a gay bar and complain about the crowd. I don’t go to a Catholic church or a Buddhist temple and complain that I disagree with their views on the world and choice of decoration. I don’t go to a train exhibition and complain that there’s nothing there but trains. I don’t go to a cubist exhibition and complain that all the paintings look weird.

      Don’t like it, don’t buy it, don’t go there. It’s as simple as that.

  • I agree, it isn’t an unreasonable response, if what Nintendo say is true. But I have a hard time believing that the concept of same sex relationships didn’t come up as though it is unheard of.

    Its 2014, and the issue of same sex relationships is a widely discussed topic, regardless of what little secluded part of the world you’re from.

    • It may be widely discussed in the West, but in Japan it may not be discussed to the same extent. Which is reasonable and backs up the notion that the game was built for Japanese audiences then ported go the West.

      • This. Not everyone cares about what the West thinks, or what their ‘issues’ are.

    • the other thing you forgot to consider is that even if it was discussed, if they decided not to include it in their game that is fully within their rights. Most games are not social commentaries.

  • Their response was perfectly adequate. Also, it’s not as if homosexuality was ever represented in Mario games prior to this.

    • It’s not a mario game, I suspect those are just costumes in the picture.

  • I disagree. Remember that Nintendo actively patched Tomodatchi to remove the ability to have gay marriages. They actively did that. And in the patch notes stated that the patch fixed “human relations that become strange”.

    So there’s that.

    • Well, do you know for a fact that “become strange” is in reference to gay marriage specifically, not related to how the game itself reacts to same-sex marriages? I read that as being “human relations that can potentially break the game”. If same-sex relationships have an adverse affect on how the game is designed, what obligation then do they have? To that of ensuring all people are recognise, or ensuring the product works for the consumer? Seriously, I’d love to what that statement REALLY means, rather than just jump to the conclusion that Nintendo actually thinks gay marriage is “strange”.

      • I think you’re reaching here. It’s clear that patch was added for this reason. The connection is clear as day.

        • You’re both reaching, one of you more then the other, the connection might be ‘clear’ to you and others but you have not confirmed it.

        • But it isn’t as clear as you think because the feature was never intended to be in there in the first place. In the context of how the game functions, gay marriage can be considered “strange” because it is not intended to be possible in the game (and from reports I’ve read, can cause further issues within the game).

          Obviously the fact that same-sex relationships aren’t in there in the first place isn’t ideal for homosexuals, but people have to remember that this game comes from Japan, a country where pornography is censored, and whose culture is still largely conservative – particularly with the older generations. Unfortunately, the people who make the big decisions at Nintendo belong to this generation.

          And yes, we’re making SOME progress when it comes to same-sex relationships, but for people to expect other cultures to do the same to accommodate them is a bit much. Unfortunately that petition was never going to go anywhere because the fact is the game has already been made. People can’t even say that adding this feature in wouldn’t be hard because no one here has seen the code and no one knows how much of it needs to be changed.

          All we can do is hope that Nintendo take the criticism on-board for future games.

    • Very important detail. It’s kind of a shame this was omitted from the original article…

      Mark, is there a journalist code that would prevent you from editing this into someone else’s article? It’s just that it seems like a crucial bit of information.

    • I read that the alleged gay marriages taking place we’re actually when you imported a male mii from an older generation, then switch it’s gender, so it was still actually a male / female marriage anyway, hence why they could also have babies.
      Apparently they patched it because when importing from an older generation it would occasionally cause the game to glitch / break.
      That’s what the patch notes supposedly meant.
      I can’t quite remember where I read this though. Maybe IGN?

      • ^– Look everyone, actual logical thought process into WHY perhaps a section of game code was patched because it wasn’t behaving as expected.

    • Correlation is not causation. Unless you’re a game dev at Nintendo, you can’t say “Nintendo did this because they are against gay marriage”. Code behaving in a way that is not expected is a major problem.

      • Glitch gets a lot of coverage because it allows gay marriage, after all the media a patch is rushed out to remove the offending feature a couple of days later and you think it’s not because of the politics?

        It wasn’t a game breaking bug, the patch didn’t affect any other aspects of the gameplay if I recall correctly so why else was it such a huge priority?

        I remember Arkham Origins having a major game progressing bug that screwed me over despite buying the game months after it’s release. It was well documented and appeared to occur in 100% of PC versions.

        Now I know that’s a different developer but it seems more consistent with my personal experiences than the dev who pushes out patches because they’re perfectionists who want to erase anything not working exactly as intended.

    • Mark I knew there was a reason you were my favourite on Kotaku. While I haven’t played the game nor ever will I do have some experience with “PR Talk” and Nintendo have basically said we hear you and we’re going to say something socially appropriate to take the heat off and then do nothing about it. So now go back to buying our games to let us know we made the right move (I added that last part xD).

  • the patch fixed “human relations that become strange”.

    You’d think that would kill off a lot of heterosexual marriages, too 😛

  • Of course this would all make sense, if the original game didn’t allow male-male relationships due to a glitch that was patched out.

    Honestly seems like something they could patch in 5 minutes if they cared about it.

    • seems like

      Exactly. It seems easy to patch in, if it was patched out, right? Because you’re someone with extensive programming knowledge in the exact language that Nintendo uses, and familiar with the CPu cycle and heirarchy on the hardware, yeah?

      Don’t jump to conclusions. Just because a whole bunch of people are also jumping to conclusions, don’t mean it’s the correct way to go.

      • Oh honestly give me a break.

        There is a section of code somewhere written to cover exactly how player to player marriage works, which has an exception to prevent same sex characters marrying.

        That’s an extra layer of complication, it would be simpler not to have that exception.

        Seeing as male or female is just a checkbox on some spreadsheet there’s no reason they should be incompatible.

        And for all you know, I do have extensive knowledge in their language as well as their hardware.

        Of course I dont, but I don’t need a detailed working knowledge of the intricacies of everything I critique and to suggest I need to have that is facetious.

        There could be some weird technical reason it’s not possible, if so I’d have led with that in my press release.

        • *Shrugs* There’s a couple people in this thread that have mentioned possible game-breaking bugs with the ‘original’ code.

          • I’ve only read some of those after that last reply and if true it gives a good reason for pushing out a quick patch, however I’d again assume that fixing those issues would be harder than adding this as a feature.

      • Oh please, I would be very surprised if Nintendo didn’t use some high level programming language, and I would be only slightly less surprised if that language wasn’t object oriented. I suspect, while not “5 min” easy, It wouldn’t have been that difficult to add.

        Out of curiosity, Is there a specific reason you’re white knighting for nintendo so hard on this article.

  • I’m sure Nintendo are keen to keep all eight of their remaining customers and will be sure to take their point of view into consideration for future releases.

  • Absence of social commentary is still a facet of social commentary.
    The fact they didn’t think to include same-sex marriages is an unintentional commentary on the issue.

  • The fact is, gay marriage is actually still very new and very few countries in the world actually allow it. Sure, it would be nice if Nintendo stood up for this issue but I don’t see how you can attack them for basically saying “we aren’t here to push the envelope. We just want to make games”. Not everyone needs to be a pioneer for social issues.

  • Looks like Jason Schreier is at it again.

    If all NOA are doing is translating NOJ’s work into English, you can’t really hold them accountable for the lack of gay marriage, as big as a shame that might be.
    Jason’s just a whore for those headline clicks.

  • A lot of people seem to be missing the point here.

    “Can’t be stuffed” seems like the actual reason, but they keep trying to brush it off with “this game isn’t social commentary”. That’s ridiculous. No one is asking them to make social commentary. By excluding gay marriage, they’re actively perpetuating the idea that gay relationships aren’t as valid as straight relationships. And by saying having gay marriage in a game is just social commentary, they’re pushing the idea that gay relationships are just some fad.

    What if this game didn’t allow inter-racial marriage? Could they brush that off as the game not being “social commentary”?

    • By excluding gay marriage they have gone with the norm. Gay marriage is not legal in most countries.

    • Get realistic. The game is made for Japan primarily, where gay marriage is not happening. So Ninty makes it hetero-only.

      They then port the game over into English, for the rest of the world. If they were to change the game to allow gay marriage, that is then having social commentary on the rest of the world. By not changing anything, they are shipping the original product as intended, and therefore not participating in social commentary.

      So basically, cool your beans and come back to reality.

      Further – I’m pretty sure there was a Ninty product that let you ‘couple’ up Mii characters in a MM or FF arrangement. So please stop bashing Ninty about it.

  • So I’m guessing that there’s very little going on in the gaming world right now…

  • I am pleasantly surprised at the high level of logic being used in this thread, good job.

  • Jason, Mark and Kotaku stop trying to make a non-issue an issue. We can see Jason that you’re not passionately on this soapbox for a cause but only screaming and yelling for page hits. Go home, you’re drunk and no one is buying your tripe.

  • Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyy LMAO. let’s all be edgy and say the politically correct things to get more readers!

    • That’s just a stupid selfish argument.

      It shouldn’t be highlighted, or added as a special feature it should just be allowed.

      The reason it’s such a serious issue is because there will be some young gay gamer playing this game, and being told implicitly that he isn’t normal.

      Just imagine if every game, every film you loved singled out the one thing about you that you were most self conscious about. Told you that it was wrong.

      Nintendo has every right not to do it, but people have every right and I would argue an obligation to complain and make their voices heard that they deserve more.

      • people have every right

        Every right to do what? Have gay marriage? The definition of marriage is between hetero couples. This isn’t mother nature – humans invented this concept. Therefore, gay couples can have other forms of union, but they aren’t really ‘married’, are they?

        Since this is a game with limited scope, it decided to cover marriages as defined originally – and that’s how Japan rolls. Since there is no inclusion of bestiality/trans/polygamy in the game – as it’s a limited scope venture – it’s not outrageous that other forms of union are not included.

        • My mistake I had a grammatical error in my response, it should read:

          … but people have every right, and I would argue an obligation, to complain…

          So I was simply trying to say people have a right to complain about Nintendo being old world bigots.

          However I find your reply literally insulting in a lot of ways… For one people seriously stop comparing bestiality to gay and transgendered people, it’s a disgusting short sighted comparison.

          I’ve never really cared about the semantics of marriage either, why when talking about marriage are we suddenly lawyers? You partner up with another person and share finances and share a specific legal standing, calling it all marriage is just much easier and makes more sense than trying to make up a new word.

          Lastly I want to comment on the argument that in Japan gay rights aren’t an issue… Which is BS. There is just as many gay Japanese as anywhere else in the world (About 10%), they just have a repressed traditional culture which hides these issues more.

          When I visited Japan about 10 years ago I was kind of shocked at the institutionalised sexism that is everywhere even within high school. Or you look at progressive youth based areas like Harajuku and realise most of Japan (Including tourism boards and guides) just pretend they don’t exist.

          It’s not a reason to give them a pass, it’s a reason to kick up a fuss to make them realise this shit shouldn’t be on.

  • Think more broadly and consider the fact that this game was made for a Japanese audience whose culture is significantly different to your own.

    Edit: This was in reply to @swil. Why is the commenting system still broken?

    • Why should I think more broadly? It’s easier to just engage the reality distortion field!

    • Just made a point about the Japanese culture just above you, worth checking out.

  • I’m sorry but the gay rights movement look for any opportunity to turn ordinary things into ammunition.
    Before you start saying I’m evil and should die etc. You should know my business has gay customers, I’ve worked with gay people and I have no issue with any one person.
    Here’s the BUT= The gay rights community (It is different to the gay community) is full of guile and has no intention other than becoming a very powerful minority, so powerful that it’s disproportionate to the amount of people in that community. As a matter of fact they have already achieved that goal for the most part.
    Finally after this rant which is not full of hate, what you see in this article is someone attempting to fill others with fear if they don’t want to tow the gay rights party line (that in itself is discrimination towards people who believe in the “traditional ” relationship.

    • How is wanting both sides to be represented discrimination to anyone in a traditional relationship?

      About 10% of the population is gay, that’s a pretty large proportion of the population. If you have a business I’d be more surprised if you hadn’t worked with gay people.

      I don’t get what goal you think they’ve achieved… They’re unable to marry in this country and many others, are often persecuted, ostracised and as a result have a much higher rate of hate crimes and suicide.

      I think you’re the only one doing any fear mongering here.

    • “I’m not homophobic, I have gay friends! But gay people don’t need representation or recognition or equal treatment!”
      Go bone yourself.

  • Yeah, for sure, if you’re gay, being told that including a relatable portrayal of your relationships is “social commentary” may be offensive. But for everyone else who’s not gay, nor a supporter, /including/ gay relationships in the game would have been social commentary and taking sides. They might as well not release a game that would have the soccer moms and the conservative media stirred to a foam, taking in account that we’re talking of a product targeted at kids.

    You may call them cowards, but you cannot ask a businesses to go out of businesses just to make a minority feel a bit more included.

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