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Nintendo Leans the Wrong Way with Tomodachi Collection's Gay Bug

The "fix" for Nintendo's social game falls disappointingly out of step with current trends.

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

You may not have heard of Tomodachi Collection, but Japan loves it. The DS version became one of the company's biggest hits on its best-selling system ever, and the 3DS sequel seems to be doing well for itself. "Tomokore" lands right in the middle between Animal Crossing and a social game, allowing players to engage in all kinds of goofy activities with their friends' Miis....

...including a few things Nintendo never intended, such as letting guys marry their best friend. Even if said friend is male. Same-sex relationships didn't exist in the first game, and it turns out Nintendo didn't intend for them to show up in the sequel, either. The company quickly recently out the game's "gay bug," putting an end to same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Collection with alarming efficiency.

Image courtesy of Tiny Cartridge

Is this a mistake on Nintendo's part? Not only does it mean we'll be deprived of hilarious images like the above pic of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto being extra-friendly, it also means -- more seriously -- Nintendo has published a social game in 2013 that doesn't account for the choices of gay gamers.

Even if you're willing to accept that, it's hard to swallow the notion that when a gay option did appear in the game, Nintendo quickly moved to extricate it from the game altogether instead of leaving it -- or, better yet, going one step better and adding female/female relationships in addition to the unintended male/male option. In doing so, they've unwittingly drawn attention to the antediluvian social politics of their game. A game with no gay option isn't entirely unheard of these days, but one that actively removes it?

Of course, the mitigating factor here is the cultural angle: Nintendo created Tomodachi Collection for the Japanese market and will very likely never localize it for the West. Japan has a very different take on homosexuality than the West, and as with so many things it's always tricky (and unwise) to measure another culture by your own yardstick. Even so, I want to hope that in the unlikely event Tomodachi Collection somehow makes its way out of Japan, Nintendo will reconsider their limitations on acceptable relationships -- especially in a game where romance is presented in such a breezy, goofy fashion. Seriously, where's the harm?

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