Is Nintendo Fixing A Gay Marriage 'Bug' In New Video Game?

May 14, 2013
Originally published on May 14, 2013 10:34 am

Days after the gaming world began to buzz with reports that Nintendo's new life simulation game allows men to marry other men, it now seems that Nintendo is removing that possibility, which by all reports was unintended.

Questions arose after players of the popular new game Tomodachi Collection: New Life realized that men could marry men. They could also date, and raise children. Female characters in the game could not have the same interactions with one another.

"One Twitter user claims to have contacted Nintendo's customer support, which supposedly said this is a bug and that the game needs to be patched," Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku wrote last week. "Online in Japan, however, there were many Internet users who said they planned on getting this game only after learning of this bug—er, feature."

The game for Nintendo's 3DS system has been at the top of the sales charts in Japan since its release last month. It is not currently slated for a U.S. release. Japan does not officially recognize same-sex marriage.

Tomodachi ("friends," in Japanese) allows players to create a persona, or Mii, to reflect themselves as they move through a virtual life. Kotaku's Richard Eisenbeis calls it "pretty much my childhood made digital."

Nintendo released an update Monday to patch several flaws, from problems starting and saving the game to human relationships that are "funny" or "strange," depending on how you translate the company's message in Japanese. The patch is said to remove the possibility of same-sex marriage.

News of the fix disappointed some gamers; others said the move by famously uncontroversial Nintendo wasn't a surprise. The company has not publicly commented on the issue.

"The only bug in this situation is that female Miis can't do the same with other female Miis," writes Ryan Bates at Got Game.

Bug or not, this isn't the first time video games have included same-sex marriage. In 2009, The Sims 3 included the feature. In the Facebook game FrontierVille, hundreds of thousands of couples joined in same-sex marriages. FrontierVille's creator has acknowledged that the feature was first introduced as a "bug."

"Players seemed to like it, he says, so they just left it in. Since then, the number of same sex marriages in-game is triple that in the US," reported in 2011.

"Whether unintentional or not, due to the political and social sensitivities of the issue Nintendo has been faced with a decision in terms of maintaining male-female marriages only, or using the discovered feature as an opportunity to open up the experience to same-sex couples. It seems that the company has gone for the former option," writes Thomas Whitehead at Nintendo Life.

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