Tomodachi Life is a life simulation game by Nintendo that has already launched in Japan and is set to hit the U.S. and Europe this June. The game is similar to The Sims and Second Life, where you create and develop characters that live out your life in a virtual world. Tomodachi players create a personalized avatar called a "Mii." They use the Mii to play games, shop, see celebrities, and form relationships with other players, who you can even go on dates with. If your virtual relationship is going well, your Miis can get married.
If your Mii gets married, you can access an entire new portion of the game: marriage exclusive features. These features are a large part of the game, and they include having children, exploring schools, playing new mini-games, and planning the wedding. In fact, the optimal game experience includes finding a partner and having a marriage. Many users like playing the game with their real-life partners, who they can choose to marry in the game.
One detail of the game is causing problems for Nintendo, however. Two characters with the same gender cannot get married.
Gamers have launched a #Miiquality campaign on social media, started by gay Tomodachi fan Tye Marini. Marini tried to marry his real life fiancé, but found he was unable to. If you try to marry a Mii of the same gender as your own, the game offers the options to change your Mii's gender, for the other Mii to change their gender or to stay unmarried. In a video he made launching the #Miiquality campaign, Marini says "Not being able to date and marry the gender I am attracted to in real life, really takes all the emersion and fun out of the game for me."
The #Miiquality campaign is not a boycott. Instead, Marini is hoping the game does well enough that Nintendo is encouraged to release an update or a sequel which offers a same sex marriage option. Other life simulation games, including the extremely popular Sims game, already offer same sex relationship options.
Nintendo of America issued this statement in reaction to the campaign: "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 ability for same-sex relationships to occur in the game was not part of the original game that launched in Japan, and that game is made up of the same code that was used to localise it for other regions outside of Japan."
While Nintendo has not been too responsive to the #Miiquality movement, they do have a history of being open minded about gender. In the Mario series, they feature a transgender character named "Birdo."
Check out Marini's #Miiquality campaign video here: