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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2014-05-09 02:47:12
Tomodachi Life is one of those niche Mii-centric Nintendo bits of fluff that only interest people who are susceptible to bits of Nintendo fluff. Amongst their esteemed throngs number those who are either gay, or gay empathetic.
Nintendo botched the response. Wouldn't this PR spin have been far more palatable:
"We at Nintendo apologize for marginalizing our LGBT fans. That was certainly not our intent, and we will devote deeper consideration to this issue moving forward."
Simple. That would've helped to defuse the controversy, without having to reprogram their game, and without actually committing to any particular course of action in the future. Instead, they went all deer in headlights and started babbling about how Tomodachi's WHIMSY and QUIRKINESS absolves them from any and all "social commentary" responsibility. Look you, you homosexuals, your kind has no place in our WHIMSICAL QUIRKINESS.
Now, to be fair, we need to step into their shoes and empathize with Nintendo as well. In Japanese culture, an apology is a deeply serious matter. They used to LITERALLY disembowel themselves as displays of contrition. It would take a Megaton Event's worth of shame for CEO Iwata to publicly request forgiveness. The act of apologizing simply is not culturally equivalent there as in the West.
However, while homosexuality is not explicitly illegal in Japan, there does exist a significant social stigma regarding non-hetero relationships. Granted, America does suffer from deep rifts caused by bigotry, but it's more pronounced in homogenous societies that have yet to grapple with these conflicts. The very idea -doesn't even occur- to those in the majority. I'm sure Nintendo was taken completely by surprise. They should take steps to become more perceptive.
And our games journalist badgers aren't just muck raking. This is a matter of paramount importance to them, as they are gay (although, for the life of me, I can't find the comic strip where this was revealed...)
Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2014-05-09 22:44:02
Hey, look at that! They took my advice.
The apology follows my gameplan: reach out to the wronged parties with no substantive amends, and make a promise that you'll never have to follow through on. (I'd be stunned if they ever made another Tomodachi Life.)