It hasn't been a great week for Nintendo. We were singing their praises from the rooftops only seven days ago, but now a truly depressing financial report has turned smiles into bile. Then, to top it all off, they find themselves under fire for not including same-sex relationships in upcoming 3DS game Tomodachi Life. Not content with public outcry, NoA decided to transform discontent into disaster with an utterly horrendous public statement. Some pundits and gamers have now even accused The Big N of being bigoted and prejudiced as a result.
But here's the thing. Nintendo aren't homophobic. They're just terrified.
Nintendo are terrified of absolutely everything, to be clear. They're scared of sex. They're petrified by graphic violence. They can't stomach the idea of sexuality or even romance of any sort - remember, this is a company who'll cut away from a heterosexual peck on the cheek because it's a bit racy. More than anything, though, Nintendo are scared of scandal.
And in this specific case, they're frightened half to death by a single nightmare headline...
"Nintendo Turned My Child Gay"
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See, folks, that's where the real prejudice is. It's in the political propaganda machines disguised as American news networks. It's in the pages of godawful rags and the hack writers who fan the flames under their readers' fears. Remember, this is the same "mainstream media" who dragged Mass Effect over the coals for having the nerve to show a blue lady in a bikini for a split-second, and recently linked Dark Souls with a horrible knife attack - and they're who the majority of Nintendo's enormous dormant casual fanbase pays attention to.
Now imagine what they'd do to a game that exposes our poor innocent kids to... shock horror!... all that nasty gayness. It'd be a miserable, biased, one-sided bloodbath.
Of course, we all know that Tomodachi Life should allow for same-sex relationships. Guys fancy girls, girls fancy guys, guys fancy guys and girls fancy girls. This all happens, it's all a natural part of life that should obviously be reflected in a life simulator. Plus, regardless of your sexual orientation, it'd just make for really fun emergent gameplay. Us gaming press would rightly praise Nintendo for promoting inclusivity were they to pull the trigger.
But they won't. They can't. Like a cowardly old toymaker in a world they don't understand, all they want to do is create their wares without ruffling any feathers.
Geppetto, perhaps, terrified that FOX News and the Daily Mail will kick Pinocchio to death in front of his potential customers as soon as he walks out the door.
And the #Miiquality movement knows that. "I believe this is a significant issue that should be resolved or at least acknowledged by Nintendo, so I started a movement in hopes to convince Nintendo to add same-sex relationships to Tomodachi Life via an update, or at least ensure that it is included in a future sequel—the Miiquality movement," wrote #Miiquality founder Tye Marini. Just a little 'acknowledgement' is all everybody wants, and a promise that they'll try to be as inclusive in future.
All Ninty needed to do was admit that it was an oversight that the Japanese developers didn't appreciate and was too difficult to implement for the Western release -- but that they were receptive to the issue, grateful for the advice and taking feedback seriously for future sequels. Just the gesture, a few well-placed words, would have sufficed.
After all, Nintendo moves slower than any other software company and everybody appreciates that. Geppetto doesn't leave the workshop very often. It's scary outside!
Sadly, as we all know, cowards do stupid things when they're scared. Like rabbits in headlights, Nintendo Of America decided to unilaterally ruin everything with their Earth-shatteringly, head-deskingly, face-palmingly atrocious press statement. I'm not going to retread old ground -- Matt has painstakingly explained why it was embarrassing, pathetic and insulting to pretty much everyone involved -- but suffice to say that they've made a mountain out of what probably should have been a molehill. We seriously need more diversity in games, both in terms of characters, protagonists and relationships, but asking a company like Nintendo to take the initiative on that front is... well...
... actually it's fair enough. Companies ought to be able to stand up for themselves, and at the very least, NoA deserves a lot of stick for their gaffe.
But you should pick your battles and remember that Nintendo will only be coaxed out of the workshop when they feel safe to emerge. Making noise is definitely appropriate here, it really can help to push gaming forward and inspire genuine change, so keep pushing, but making an example might not be the smart play here nor help anyone much at all. Cowards? Yes. Out of touch? Definitely. But bigots they ain't.