A Nintendo game's failure to allow gay relationships is prompting a hard look at the video game industry, which critics say is stuck in the past. Studies show that players can form powerful bonds with their in-game avatars, and these virtual relationships are tied to self-esteem, writes Mark Griffiths at The Conversation. "The sexuality of a character for a player may be of fundamental psychological importance," Griffiths notes. Yet compared to TV and movies, "there is a relative lack of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender representation in video games."
The lack of gay relationships in Tomodachi Life "appears to be ill-judged, ill-informed, and outdated," Griffiths writes. "Games in which identity content can be generated by … users [need] to reflect the world in which the gamers live." At the Daily Beast, Tauriq Moosa puts it in starker terms: "Anti-gay bigotry remains ensconced at Nintendo." The company has said it didn't intend to offer "social commentary" with the game, yet it altered the original version, which did allow same-sex relationships. Amid the controversy, Nintendo has now apologized, the Guardian reports. The company says it can't change the existing game's design, but any sequels will aim to be "more inclusive."