Last year when Nintendo released its role-playing video game Fire Emblem: Fates in Japan it was applauded for its LGBT inclusion when players found out that along with choosing a character’s gender or physical appearance, they could also select sexual orientation. But soon afterward the applause turned to anger after it was found out that players can also opt to drug one of the game’s lesbian characters and transform her into a straight woman.
The interaction in question occurs between Soleil, a lesbian character who gets nervous around women she meets. If the player chooses a male avatar, he can choose to slip Soleil a magic potion without her knowledge. The potion makes her see men as women. Soleil then falls in love with the man who drugged her and remains attracted to him even after the magic potion wears off—a first for her, as she has only been attracted to women.
Responding to complaints that the game promoted drugging of woman and gay conversion therapy, Nintendo executives announced this week that the company will alter the game for its release in the United States and Europe.
In the version of the game that ships in the U.S. and Europe, there is no expression which might be considered as gay conversion or drugging that occurs between characters,” a Nintendo of America representative told Nintendo World Report.
Japanese gamers claim that they don’t see the scene as a form of gay conversion therapy. Japanese commenters point to inherent cultural differences as the culprit for Western outcries, according to gaming site Kotaku. There’s little information on gay conversion therapy in Japan and the horrors behind it.
The company will still continue to sell the original version in Japan.
Nintendo is apologizing and pledging to be more LGBT inclusive after being criticized for not recognizing same-sex relationships in English editions of a life-simulator video game. “Tomodachi Life.” Nintendo said that while it was too late to change the current game, it was committed to building virtual equality into future versions.
“We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life,” Nintendo said in a statement released Friday. “Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to change this game’s design, and such a significant development change can’t be accomplished with a post-ship patch.” Earlier in the week Nintendo tried to cover itself by stating that. “The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation.” adding that they “never intended to make any form of social commentary”.
The game was originally released in Japan last year and features a cast of Mii characters — Nintendo’s personalized avatars of real players — living on a virtual island. Gamers can do things like shop, play games, go on dates, get married and encounter celebrities like Christina Aguilera and Shaquille O’Neal.
“Tomodachi Life” is set for release June 6 in North America and Europe.