Loveable Mario creators Nintendo aren't usually the company to court controversy, but by not allowing gay marriage in their upcoming barmy life sim Tomodachi Life they've whipped the internet into a frenzy.
Tomodachi Life allows players – as their Mii avatar – to run around an island inhabited by friends' Miis and those of Miis you've met using the Nintendo 3DS's StreetPass functionality. You meet and interact with these Miis, as well as participating in certain events.
It is also very, very silly. Miis will have playful fights with one another and there are dream sequences that see your Mii running away from a giant hat for example. It's barmy, and it knows it. You can also romance and marry other Miis, but only if they're of the opposite gender.
Tomodachi Life was released last year in Japan and will be released in the US and Europe on 6 June. In the Japanese version same-sex marriage could briefly take place, but it turned out that was only due to a glitch, which Nintendo promptly "fixed" and then eradicated from the Western version.
The implication was that same-sex marriage was something that shouldn't exist. This caused 23-year-old Nintendo fan Tye Marini to start a social media campaign for equality in the game with the hashtag "#Miiquality".
However the controversy only really got going when Nintendo defended their stance on the matter using some poorly chosen terminology. "Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of Tomodachi Life," Nintendo of America said in a statement.
"The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation. We hope that all of our fans will see that Tomodachi Life was intended to be a whimsical and quirky game, and that we were absolutely not trying to provide social commentary."
Social commentary? It's not social commentary to allow gay marriage in a game, it is equality. It's the right thing to do.
Describing the game as "whimsical", "playful" and "quirky" are also not reasons to disregard something the LGBT community has fought long and hard to have and which it is only now starting to get. Is the game being "whimsical" a reason why gay marriage has no place in it, or is being "quirky" a reason why Nintendo don't wish to make what they believe to be a social commentary?
Such a knowingly silly video game garnering so much attention and bad-will is pretty absurd, but the issue is obviously not. Equality is equality no matter where it might be found.
Fellow life-simulation game The Sims has included gay relationships in its games since the very first title in 2000. Marriage wasn't an option in that game for even heterosexual couples, but gay romance was still possible. In The Sims 2 gay marriage was technically possible, but referred to as "joined union" instead. In The Sims 3 gay marriage was finally called exactly that.
So there's a precedent already set for Nintendo but it's one they've ignored. The likeliest explanation is that they wish to protect their family-friendly image, but that's a notion almost as archaic as wanting removing gay marriage in the first place.
That, or they wanted to distract from their latest disastrous fiscal results.