Questions for Thought #1: Tomodachi Life and the Miiquality Campaign
Tomodachi Life Direct [10th April 2014]
You may recall a few days ago I launched a new article series “Making the Jump from Anime to Visual Novel“. This was the first in a number of new columns I am endeavouring to start writing over the coming months. The second is “Questions for Thought“, which rather than me just discussing my own thoughts on an issue, I pose a series of questions for the community to think about and/or answer. In the almost eight years I have been involved in the anime and gaming communities, it has become clear that there are a wealth of different ideas on topics, and it seems like a shame just to present my own thoughts.
Given recent discussions surrounding Nintendo’s upcoming life simulation game Tomodachi Life and the recent Miiquality community campaign, I have decided to fast track these posts to this evening.
For those not aware of what Tomodachi Life is, the game is essentially a Life Simulation game very similar to Animal Crossing where players can move a sizable number of their own custom Mii’s onto a virtual island. These Mii’s can be given a voice through a built-in vocal synthesizer, a unique personality and their own apartment as they do their own thing around the island with you as a sort of omnipresent “god”. It is mean’t to be very quirky, although has a certain lifelike element to it by allowing Mii’s to marry one another and have a child.
The issue that some in the LGBT community have however is that marriage in the game requires both a male and a female Mii and does not permit same-sex relationships. Therefore if in real life someone would like to marry their same-sex partner / friend / spouse / idol etc in-game, they could potentially miss out on much of the game content they could otherwise enjoy if their Mii married someone of the opposite gender. The Miiquality campaign was launched by Tye Marini a few days ago, with Buzzfeed having a fantastic summary on the founding of this campaign and a response from Nintendo.
Just to make this perfectly clear, I am in full support of this campaign and do believe that games like Tomodachi Life should fully embrace relationships of both same and different gendered couples. While I am a supporter in theory, I think it will ultimately be a struggle for any changes to be made given that the game has already been completed (and according to Youtube videos already reached some people), is based on Japanese code which was completed more than a year ago and could quite potentially require more than a small update to rectify.
While I would love to see Nintendo to provide a solution, I think it would be a good option to consider for future instalments given the rising demand from potential fans. Tomodachi Life is the first game in the series to hit international shores, however is the second in Japan and so far seems to have been selling well – meaning it wouldn’t surprise me if it does an Animal Crossing and begins darting around portable and home video consoles if it achieves success around the world.
I myself will certainly be picking up the game either way, and should it prove good I think it is something that they could add to their rotation of popular franchises.
Questions for Thought
1. While other more mature life simulation titles such as The Sims have embraced same-sex relationships, does this issue matter as much to you given Tomodachi Life’s more casual approach and what seems to be a younger target audience (As evidenced by recent trailers)?
2. It is evident that some development work would have gone into the English localization, such as allowing the voice synthesizer to better support English dialogue. However given that the game was originally developed and published in Japan more than a year ago, should it be expected or considered practical in your mind for the development team to overhaul the relationship system for the international release? Would there be much to overhaul in the first place?
3. Can this be considered Nintendo taking an anti-LGBT stance OR is it just Nintendo marketing an all-ages game without intending to make “social commentary” (Source) and without considering some of the community demands associated with what could have been an unplanned Western release?
Find Out More
While I have linked two fantastic articles in the text above, you can find out more on the Miiquality campaign via these social media channels: