Gaming giant unfazed by viral social media campaign calling for change.
Gaming titan Nintendo is facing widespread protests following the revelation that its ‘real life simulator’ game Tomodachi Life reportedly does not allow its players to engage romantically with characters of the same sex.
The 3DS title has so far been a great success in Japan, with the US and European edition set to launch in June, but is now under scrutiny thanks to a Twitter and Facebook viral campaign urging Nintendo to allow same-sex relationships.
In a statement, Nintendo America said, "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 game features a cast of "Mii" characters, which are personalised avatars of real players, living on a virtual island, the BBC reported. It allows users to populate their island with other Mii characters, which can be family, friends or anyone else.
Married characters in the game gain further access to some exclusive in-game features, which are denied to single characters.
Tye Marini, a gay 23-year old Nintendo fan from Arizona, who started the protest, told the Associated Press, "I want to be able to marry my real-life fiance’s Mii, but I can’t do that. 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."
Marini also pointed out that since the characters are modeled on real-life, as they can be given names as well as voices, not allowing them to fall in love because they are gay, is unfair.
Nintendo said that same-sex relationships are not a part of the Japanese version.
Various games in the US supposedly allow same-sex relationships, including The Sims and Skyrim, where characters can marry and have children. Other games like Grand Theft Auto IV, The Last of Us, and Gone Home have included specific gay, lesbian and bisexual characters.
The issue is also being seen in the light of cultural differences as gay marriage is not legal in Japan, whereas in some places in North America and Europe it is legal.
Commenting on the #Miiquality campaign, Nintendo said, "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."