The very first time I played a Story of Seasons game, the series was still called Harvest Moon. The game was A Wonderful Life, on GameCube, and I was stuck playing, to my frustration, a boy farmer because that was the only option available at the time. And in 2004, that also meant that I could only marry one in three women.
Oh, how the show has changed since then.
I was 12 when I played A Wonderful Life, and I’m not very interested in dating yet, so I had no idea (and I wouldn’t for another decade) that I was. bisexual. Still, if I had grown up in a different environment, I might have taken a clue at the time that I really, really liked the game’s three marriage options and enjoyed the process of learning. get to know, date someone, get married and build a life with Celia – the lovely young woman who worked on the ranch next door.
When Another Wonderful Life came out soon after, I was excited to be able to play as a girl, but deeply disappointed with the romance options. In short: the boys stank! I wasn’t interested in Marlin, Rock, or Gustafa, and a part of me wished (although I never would have admitted it at that age) that I could just be a girl and date a girl. A really wild concept!
The Story of Seasons franchise, now divorced from its old name and publisher, began – finally – to embrace same-sex marriage in 2020, starting with its Friends of Mineral Town remake. When the game was released in Japan, it included a “best friend” system that was essentially same-sex marriage under a watered-down name, perhaps in part because same-sex marriage is illegal in Japan (although this ban could be dismantled soon!).
But when he came to the West, XSEED localizer wanted to fully cement this critical and gradual change. While localizers already play an extremely important role in ensuring that games are translated into other languages, as they are culturally sensitive and significant in other regions, we don’t often hear that they are found in other regions. first line of major changes that upset the series. But XSEED, with Marvelous blessing, has stepped up to the challenge of filling the void in social responsibility for Story of Seasons up to this point.
“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 treated the same as opposite-sex couples, “XSEED wrote at the time.” It’s been a very long time coming in the Story of series. Seasons, and the producer supported our decision from the very beginning of development. “
Thanks to the collaboration between XSEED and Marvelous, this support continued in Olive Town pioneers, the latest game in Story of Seasons. Speaking to IGN, Game Director Hikaru Nakano said that having the freedom to marry anyone, regardless of gender, “fits with Story of Seasons’ philosophy of letting the players play as they wish “.
He adds that he thinks the development team did an even better job with the feature this time around, as well as with the in-game avatar creation – which allows players to customize their appearance regardless of gender selection. , which happens later in the introduction. And singles and singles from several previous games are returning to Pioneers of Olive Town via DLC in the coming months, providing opportunities for same-sex relationships with characters they haven’t been offered with in the past.
The XSEED localization team is ostensibly trying to ensure that players who wish to be gay, lesbian or bisexual in the game not only have this as another option, but feel that those options are being addressed and taken into account. account. It started with Friends of Mineral Town, as Lori Snyder, deputy localization manager explains:
“For the North American release of Friends of Mineral Town, this title’s localization team set an important precedent for localizing same-sex marriage: all singles and singles have a special dialogue to recognize it,” she says. “Your experience will be different if you play as a farm girl and marry a bachelor – there’s a unique line when you marry Jennifer as one of the farmers, for example, where she’ll say: energies keep resonating with the beauty of two women united as one. ”Everyone has amazing lines like these! The localization team on FoMT wanted it to be validated for players, wherever they could. “
The team also reflected on the pioneers of Olive Town. While the Japanese version of the game still relies on “best friend ceremonies” (probably for the same reasons as Friends of Mineral Town, unfortunately), XSEED’s locators have been intentional in how they choose to portray the game. sex and relationships when they brought gambling to the West.
I played Pioneers of Olive Town before it was released for about a month now, and I really enjoyed discovering the little touches that Snyder described in the game. localization blog – in particular how an improved gender tagging system allowed the team to offer a bit of nuance in how conversations would unfold, depending on the player’s selected gender.
The example given in the blog is not a conversation with romantic interests, but with a group of women who regularly meet for a cake and chat and invite you to join them. The tone of each conversation is subtly different, with men greeted into the conversation in a more general sense and women greeted with a tone more like an initiation into a local ladies’ gossip circle. It’s subtle, but interesting from a tonic point of view.
Snyder says that while it was always meant to keep gay relationships in Olive Town present and enjoyable, the freedom the team had with gender labels still inspired the team to keep the celebration precedent alive. .
“I’ve played too many games that try to be shy about same-sex relationships or can’t go so far as to get them involved, but the writers don’t want to be open about it, for a reason.” any, ”she said. “Obviously, I didn’t want that sort of thing to happen here. So whenever we had the opportunity to make the dialogue more personalized or more valid for same-sex relationships, we took it. . Your partner will recognize that he loves and cares about you, that they are happy and proud to be your husband or your wife. And that is something that we are really proud to be able to do. “
Having played Pioneers of Olive Town, flirted with multiple singles, and courted and married (Bridget you’re the best), it’s truly amazing how a change that seems so simple on the surface can make me feel so much more at home. easy. in the world of a game. For years one of my favorite game series didn’t let me be fully myself, and I managed through compromises – dating men even if they didn’t. were not enjoying myself as much, or playing a sex that did not fully represent how I saw myself. It was never a dealbreaker in a single game, but it was a constant sticking point. For years!
In 2016, Stardew Valley played a pivotal role in my understanding of my own sexuality when, annoyed by most of the valley boys, I made the offhand decision to try dating Abigail, just to see what the hell. looked like. You know, on some sort of whim! As we do!
I adored her. I started to think more about my identity. I became bisexual two years later. And now I finally see myself in the farming simulation that I have loved since I was a child. Even though I knew the changes in the way Story of Seasons approached relationships in Olive Town, it was still such a pleasant surprise when the bachelor’s conversations with me gradually shifted from openly friendly to adorably flirtatious through a series of cutscenes. There was no big fanfare, but neither SapphoAndHerFriend– “friendship ceremony” level. Just me, Bridget, our adorable child, and a barn full of perfectly round farm animals. A wonderful life, indeed.
Rebekah Valentine is a journalist at IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.