The very first time I performed a Story of Seasons sport, the sequence was nonetheless known as Harvest Moon. The sport was A Wonderful Life, on the GameCube, and I used to be caught enjoying, to my frustration, a boy farmer, as a result of that was the solely choice out there at the time. And in 2004, that meant I additionally meant I might solely marry one of three girls.
Oh, how the sequence has modified since then.
I used to be 12 once I performed A Wonderful Life, and never terribly fascinated by courting simply but, so I additionally had no concept (and would not for one more decade-plus) that I used to be bisexual. Still, had I grown up in a special atmosphere, I might need taken a clue at the time from the undeniable fact that I actually, actually preferred all three of the sport’s marriage choices and loved the course of of attending to know, date, marry, and construct a life with Celia — the charming younger lady who labored at the ranch subsequent door.
When Another Wonderful Life launched not lengthy after, I used to be thrilled to have the ability to play as a woman, however deeply upset by the romance choices. Put frankly: the boys stunk! I wasn’t fascinated by Marlin, Rock, or Gustafa, and a component of me wished (although I by no means would have admitted it at that age) I might simply be a woman and date a woman. A very wild idea!
The Story of Seasons franchise, now divorced from its former identify and writer, started — finally — to include same-sex marriage in 2020, starting with the its remake of Friends of Mineral Town. When the sport got here out in Japan, it included a “Best Friends” system that was mainly same-sex marriage underneath a watered-down identify, presumably partly as a consequence of the undeniable fact that same-sex marriage is illegitimate in Japan (although this ban may be on its way to being dismantled soon!).
But when it got here West, localizer XSEED wished to totally cement this important, progressive change. While localizers have already got an especially essential position in ensuring video games are translated to different languages, as being culturally smart and significant in different areas, we do not typically hear of them being on the frontlines of main, series-shaking adjustments. But XSEED, with Marvelous’ blessing, stepped as much as meet the problem of filling the gap in Story of Seasons’ social accountability as much as that time.
“In our version [of Friends of Mineral Town], [the ‘Best Friends system] will just be called ‘marriage,’ and the relationship between same-sex couples will be given identical treatment to opposite-sex couples,” XSEED wrote at the time. “This has been a very long time coming in the Story of Seasons series, and the producer has been supportive of our decision from very early in development.”
Thanks to the collaboration between XSEED and Marvelous, that assist has continued into Pioneers of Olive Town, the newest Story of Seasons sport. Speaking to IGN, sport director Hikaru Nakano says that having the freedom to marry anybody regardless of gender “suited the Story of Seasons philosophy of letting players play however they want.”
He provides that he feels the growth staff did an excellent higher job with the characteristic this time, in addition to with the sport’s avatar creation — which permits gamers to customise their look unbiased of gender choice, which happens later in the introduction. And bachelors and bachelorettes from a number of earlier video games are returning to Pioneers of Olive Town through DLC in the coming months, providing alternatives for same-sex relationships with characters that they have not been provided with in the previous.
XSEED’s localization staff is pointedly making an attempt to make sure that gamers who wish to be homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual in-game do not simply have that as an alternative choice thrown in, however really feel like these choices are given care and consideration. This began with Friends of Mineral Town, as assistant localization lead Lori Snyder explains:
“For the North American release of Friends of Mineral Town, the localization team for that title set an important precedent for localizing same-sex marriage: all of the bachelors and bachelorettes have special dialogue to acknowledge this,” she says. “Your experience is going to be different if you’re playing as a girl farmer and you marry a bachelorette—there’s a unique line when you marry Jennifer as one of the female farmers, for example, where she’ll say, ‘May our energies continue to resonate with the beauty of two women united as one.’ Everyone has amazing lines like these! The localization team on FoMT wanted it to be validating for players, wherever they had the opportunity to do so.”
The staff has been equally considerate about Pioneers of Olive Town. Despite the Japanese model of the sport nonetheless leaning on “best friend ceremonies” (probably for the similar causes Friends of Mineral Town did, sadly), XSEED’s localizers have been intentional in how they select to signify gender and relationships as they introduced the sport West.
I’ve been enjoying Pioneers of Olive Town forward of launch for about a month now, and have actually loved experiencing the little touches Snyder outlined in the sport’s localization blog — notably how an improved gender-tagging system allowed the staff to supply a bit of nuance in how conversations would play out, relying on the chosen gender of the participant.
The instance given in the weblog is just not a dialog with romantic pursuits, however with a gaggle of women that will get collectively for cake and chatter frequently and welcomes you to hitch them. The tone of every dialog is subtly completely different, with males being welcomed to the dialog in a extra normal sense and girls being welcomed with a tone extra intently resembling an initiation into a neighborhood women’ gossip circle. It’s delicate, however tonally fascinating.
Snyder says that whereas it was at all times supposed to maintain same-sex relationships in Olive Town current and gratifying, the freedom the staff was given with gender tags additional impressed the staff to maintain the celebratory precedent alive.
“I’ve played too many games that try to act coy about same-sex relationships or can only go so far as to imply them, but the writers don’t want to be open about it, for whatever reason,” she stated. “I obviously didn’t want that sort of thing to happen here. So whenever we had the opportunity to make the dialogue more personalized or more validating to same-sex relationships, we took it. Your partner will acknowledge that they love and care about you, that they’re happy and proud to be your husband or wife. And that’s something we’re really proud to be able to do.”
Having performed Pioneers of Olive Town, flirted with a number of of the bachelorettes, and wooed and married one (Bridget you are the finest), it truly is unbelievable how a change that appears so easy on the floor could make me really feel a lot extra snug in a sport’s world. For years, one of my favourite sport sequence would not let me be totally myself, and I bought by by compromises — courting the males even when they did not attraction as a lot, or enjoying a gender that did not totally signify how I noticed myself. It was by no means a dealbreaker in anyone sport, but it surely was a continuing sticking level. For years!
In 2016, Stardew Valley was important to my understanding of my very own sexuality when, bored by most of the boys in the valley, I made the off-hand determination to try to date Abigail, simply to see what it was like. You know, on a whim of kinds! As one does!
I adored her. I began pondering tougher about my id. I got here out as bisexual two years later. And now, I lastly see myself in the farming sim I’ve beloved since I used to be a child. Even although I knew about the adjustments to how Story of Seasons approached relationships going into Olive Town, it was nonetheless such a pleasing shock when the bachelorette’s conversations with me regularly turned from overtly pleasant to adorably flirtatious throughout a sequence of cutscenes. There was no large fanfare, but additionally no SapphoAndHerFriend-level “friendship ceremony.” Just me, Bridget, our lovable child, and a barn full of good spherical livestock. An exquisite life, certainly.
Rebekah Valentine is a information reporter for IGN. You can discover her on Twitter @duckvalentine.