Nintendo says no to in-game marriage equality


(Screengrab of #Miiquality campaign video via Vimeo)

Nintendo's upcoming 3DS social simulation game "Tomodachi Life" will allow players to import their Mii, a personalized representation of the player, into a virtual world and meet new friends or even start romantic relationships and marry -- but not with avatars of the same sex.

The game was released in Japan last year, but a fan campaign to include digital equality for same-sex relationships in the North American release was shot down by Nintendo on Wednesday. In a statement to the Associated Press, the iconic video game company declined to add same-sex relationships but insisted its decision was not intended to be "social commentary."

"The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation," the company wrote. "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."

There were rumors that the Japanese release of the game briefly allowed male characters to marry other male characters until Nintendo patched the game to remove the option. But Nintendo recently told IGN that those reports were based on female characters being dressed in male attire in the game.

The #Miiquality campaign to include digital marriage equality in the game was launched by Tye Marini last week, a gay gamer based in Mesa, Ariz., and included social media pages and a video describing Marini's  issues with the restrictive nature of relationships allowed in the game.

"I want to be able to marry my real-life fiance's Mii, but I can't do that," he said in the video. "My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiance's Mii or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it."

Other video games with life simulation aspects, such as The Sims and the Fable roleplaying series, have allowed for same-sex relationships.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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