Tomodachi Man and Wife
More social justice news this week, with the internet’s legion of social justice complainers half-heartedly pretending that they care about Tomodachi Life in order to harangue Nintendo for patching out the option for homogay marriage. Legions of politically correct extremists descended upon Nintendo when they announced that they would be patching out the bug that was being exploited, and legions more shouldered their pitchforks when Nintendo announced this week that the US launch of Tomodachi Life would feature the same fixes made to the Japanese code.
The histrionic simpletons of the internet painted this as Nintendo attempting to erase homosexual individuals from their game, with the implication being that this somehow constituted a homogay holocaust. The only problem with this self-serving interpretation is that the Japanese release of Tomodachi Life never actually allowed for same-sex relationships, rather there existed a bug which allowed users to select male and female characters and then clothe them in the fashions and hairstyles of the opposite sex; the problem with this is that many people seem to be operating under the impression that Tomodachi Life is a simulation game created after the fashion of The Sims – it is not.
One is uncertain as to the extent that player input plays a role in the proceedings of Tomodachi Life, but the game’s own Wikipedia page makes it very clear that all of the player’s life events are generated randomly, and obviously sexual orientation is not an existing mechanic within the game. That is to say that if the game were to accommodate homosexual relationships then it would either have to be redesigned from the ground up, else have the player’s hetro or homo relationships left entirely up to the roll of a dice. Imagine if you will little Johnny excitedly firing up his 3DS, only to find himself randomly placed into a homogay marriage with one of his little friends. Moreover, if the original glitch went unpatched, as has been blithely touted as the middle-ground solution by an unthinking gaming media, then little Johnny could find himself placed in the freakshow scenario of having his new husband give birth to a child. It does not require much in the way of imagination to see how it could prove problematic for parents when their child’s ‘E’ rated software enables the creation of poo babies.
At the time of the initial Japanese furor it was claimed that Nintendo stated that they were patching a bug which led to “strange” relationships, for which they were roundly condemned. Firstly, the bug did lead to strange relationships, and secondly this claim has subsequently been debunked as false. The cultural barrier being what it is, it is perhaps understandable that publications misreported this at the time of the game’s Japanese release, yet it becomes particularly disappointing when both Kotaku and IGN have this week republished the false information. Similarly, while it is certainly indicative of journalistic laziness, it is also understandable that news reports at the time of release featured fundamental misunderstandings about the nature of the bug and of the game itself, yet it becomes much harder to excuse this sort of thing now that Nintendo has categorically debunked the initial false reports. An extremely cursory glance at Google search results has revealed to this author that some extremely caustic pieces [replete with bad information] have been penned by The Guardian, VG24/7, Polygon, and of course IGN and Kotaku.
Kotaku writes: “We do not live in a vacuum and there is context. Nintendo actively chose – bug or not – to restrict players from engaging in same sex marriages in its game“, only, as has been previously discussed, players never had the option of entering into same-sex relationships. Meanwhile, Ploygon has written an article which simply must be read to be believed, as it flatly states that Nintendo’s failure to offer same-sex relationships is predicated on nothing less than unbridled hatred and bigotry on the part of Nintendo!
The reality of the matter is that Nintendo has always positioned itself as being safe and supportive of the traditional family unit, and Tomodachi Life was likely never intended to leave Japan. The only real viable way that Nintendo could have accommodated same-sex relationships would have been to rebuild the game from its foundations, and placating less than one percent of the population simply does not justify the expense for such a marginal release. Nintendo’s response to all this social justice activism has been perfectly measured, and should have been sufficient to clear up any of the previous misunderstandings. That it did not could charitably be thought of as the result of idiocy and incompetence on the part of journalists, yet could just as easily be down to bloody-minded ideological dogma or even cynical click-bait tactics. Whatever the case, the social justice bandwagon has this week made it incredibly unlikely that the west will ever see another entry in the Tomodachi series.
The People V. Kickstarter
Lusipurr.com regulars will be aware that the site has been fiercely critical of the crowd-funding platform known as Kickstarter ever since it shot into the stratosphere with the success of Double Fine’s Broken Game. The site alleges that all money received is classified as a donation [meaning that consumer rights are unenforceable], even despite the fact that goods are clearly being marketed towards and sold to prospective
backers customers. It would seem that the powers that be have finally had enough of the trampling of consumer rights, at least in America’s capital city, because the State of Washington is set to be the first major body to take a Kickstarter fraudster to court over their failure to deliver the goods they were paid for.
Altius Management asked for a considerable sum of $10,000 in order to get their line of Asylum horror-themed trading cards off the ground in October of 2012, but went on to exceed that figure by over $15,000, amassing a bounty of $25,146. Despite this windfall the cards never materialised, and customers were left high and dry without the goods they had paid for. Thirty-one citizens of Washington were among those who fell victim to the sham, and it is with this in mind that Washington is taking Edward J. Polchlepek III and his company to court in order to seek full restitution for all backers, along with a $2000 fine for each breach of the Consumer Protection Act, and reimbursement for the State’s expenses. Washington Attourney General Bob Ferguson described the case thusly:
“This lawsuit sends a clear message to people seeking the public’s money, Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft. The Attorney General’s Office will hold those accountable who don’t play by the rules.”
Obviously this story is not directly video game related, yet its implications absolutely are. It is passing unlikely that the State will actually be able to extract all of the money that it is looking for from the parties in question, but a favourable ruling in this instance would at the very least lead to more feckless groups and individuals questioning the wisdom of taking people’s money if they lack the ability or inclination to deliver the goods owed to their customers. At any rate it is sure to be fun watching as Washington bends these disreputable rogues over a court bench, and bleeds them to destitution with court fees.
Back to the Future for Epic Games
“Not free to play, just free” is how Epic Games are describing the next installment in their once great Unreal Tournament franchise. It would seem that the studio has finally realised that there are better margins to be made with fun multiplayer experiences than with bloated linear turkey-shoots like Gears of War. With Gears of War now safely sold to Microsoft, and the majority of the most prominent Gears of War luminaries now mercifully departed the company, the studio is finally free to get back to basics.
The game itself is set to be an open source collaboration between Epic Games and any developers or modders with an interest in UE4 content creation. Once the game is in a playable state it will be made available for absolutely free to players to play to their heart’s content. Following the game’s launch, Epic then plans to establish an Unreal Tournament marketplace where users will be free to buy and sell mods, items, and content that they have created, with Epic taking a cut of the proceeds. In short, there is every indication that Epic Games has adopted the Team Fortress 2 business model for its Unreal Tournament revival, and that is fantastic.