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Nintendo Caught in Culture War Over New Game's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Nintendo argues that leaving gay marriage out of Tomodachi Life avoids "social commentary" rather than causing it.

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With most Nintendo games, players can check their expectations of realism at the door; how else could they rationalize talking mushrooms or a magical baton that can control the weather?

But due to an apparent ban on same-sex marriage in the new life-simulation game Tomodachi Life, some fans took to social media on Wednesday to accuse Nintendo of losing touch with reality. The 3DS game, already out in Japan and slated for a U.S. and E.U. release this summer, is centered on cartoony virtual avatars called Miis and their relationships with one another. If players want those relationships to turn into romance, though, only opposite-sex Miis can fall in love and get married.

An early version of the Japanese Tomodachi Life did allow for same-sex marriage, but this was deemed a “strange” glitch and removed via a downloadable update.

A social media campaign named #Miiquality, calling for the re-inclusion of gay marriage in the U.S. and E.U. versions of the game, began over the weekend. Nintendo’s official response on Wednesday riled the hornet’s nest:

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.

To same-sex marriage proponents like Polygon contributor Samantha Allen, this answer was a form of social commentary, as it leaves gay relationships out of the “playful alternate world.” The response also seems to have ramped up tweets about #Miiquality.

A Nintendo spokesperson said the company did not have any further statements at the time of this writing.

Same-sex marriage is illegal within Japan, but legal in 17 U.S. states and 10 European countries.

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