brhfl.com

The death of Miitomo

Well, damn. Come May 9, Nintendo is shuttering Miitomo. I don’t know that it was ever terribly popular – it was Nintendo’s earliest venture onto mobile, but it wasn’t really a game. There were some game-like elements, primarily throwing your body into a pachinko machine to win clothes, but ultimately it was a dollhouse. A game of dress-up.

Entertainment, in all forms and across all media, is often a tool for escape. Some wish to lose themselves in a setting, others as a passive bystander in a plot, still others seeing pieces of themselves in fictional characters. A dollhouse experience is largely concentrated on this third aspect – expressing yourself, consequence-free, as this blank canvas of a person. While certainly a valid means of escape for anyone, this seems especially valuable to trans folks and people questioning their gender identity. The answers and comments on in-game questions revealed a staggering number of trans Miitomo users. I don’t really know of another game of dress-up that will serve as a viable replacement to Miitomo, and this is heartbreaking.

The May 9 date will put Miitomo’s lifespan at just over two years. Unfortunately, the app is entirely dependent upon the service, and assets users have acquired will not be retained locally, etc. While it seems plausible that local copies could be downloaded so that users could still fire up the app and change into any number of outfits they had previously purchased1, this will not be the case2. This is not a matter of ‘no more updates’, this is ‘no more app’. And that’s… a fairly short lifespan, even for a niche non-game. This absolute dependence on hosted assets makes me wonder about some of Nintendo’s other mobile forays. When Super Mario Run stops being worth the upkeep, will there be no more updates, or will the game cease to function altogether? Nintendo is in a weird spot where a lot of their casual gaming market has been overtaken by mobile. Obviously they want to get in on that and reclaim some market, but they just haven’t proven that they quite ‘get it’ yet. Or perhaps rendering a game entirely ephemeral is meant to prove to us the value of a cartridge. I… doubt it.

On January 24, Nintendo stopped selling in-game coins and tickets3 for real-world money. Daily bonuses, which used to be a handful of coins or a single ticket, are now 2,000 coins and 5 tickets every day. That’s a lot of in-game purchasing power for the next few months, and I’m glad that Nintendo is saying ‘here, just go nuts and have fun while it lasts’. Better than making this announcement on May 1, and operating as usual (including in-app purchases) until then.

I am truly sad about this; Miitomo has been oddly important to me. There is a lot of sadness and anger in the answers to the public in-game question running until May 9, ‘What was your favorite outfit in Miitomo? Show it off when you answer!’ Users are elaborately staging Miifotos with dead-looking Miis stamped ‘DELETED’, Miis crying on their knees, demonic-looking Miis labeled ‘Nintendo’ standing over innocent-looking Miis labeled ‘Miitomo’ with table knives sticking out of them. Ouch. We have #savemiitomo, #longlivemiitomo, #justice4miitomo (bit extreme, that) hashtags popping up. Suffice it to say, there is a frustrated community. I’ll be the first to admit that it never would have had the prominence of a Super Mario Bros. or Animal Crossing game, but Miitomo has been very meaningful to a lot of people.


Fight our administration's hate, now. (external)

Link goes to Lambda Legal’s donate page. So many people need you to do it, if you’re here and you have a spare buck or two. I’m really tired of making these posts, but our administration wants to eliminate trans people, one way or another. Frankly, I believe they want to eliminate all queer people, but trans folks are the low-hanging fruit right now. I’m not here to contribute to the infighting, but trans men, trans women, trans enbies… isolated in the fight. And the administration knows that. They know that it’s a weakness. Fuck Jeff Sessions and his fucking memo. Fight.

Fight.


A call to donate to Lambda Legal (external)

Well, bad horrifying news out of the White House today, no surprise there. Lambda Legal is a 501(c)3 legal organization fighting for the civil rights of queer and HIV positive folks. They do good work, and have already committed to fight this act of bigotry. Link in the header is to their donate page, they’re top on my to-donate list at the moment. Additionally:

Try to take care of yourselves, all. ⚧


How not to write about trans folks

While looking for something entirely unrelated, I came across this article from the San Diego Union-Tribune about a new book on Wendy Carlos. I wouldn’t actually recommend reading the article, as it comes off rather vapid and hollow, and the Union-Tribune’s website is extremely user-hostile. A couple of things stood out to me, however. First of all, I do think journalists and their publications are generally getting a bit better about talking about trans folks. This article could have been much worse. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.

For one thing, the article casually deadnames Carlos for no reason. Throughout the article, they do refer to her as Wendy (and they never misgender her), but just once there’s a pointless little parenthetical with her deadname. I get that she released albums under that name, and I suppose this could be a point of confusion for some casual listener, but any further research by an interested reader would clear this up. In my opinion, there needs to be a very good reason to deadname a trans person, and this article sorely lacked one.

As I mentioned, the article is actually about a new book about Carlos (or, I suppose, about Switched on Bach). The author, Roshanak Kheshti, is a UC San Diego professor, and talks a bit in the article about diversity and intersectionality in the music scene, apparently a running theme in her coursework as well. What fascinates me is that, in an article that is simultaneously about a prominent transgender musician and a professor who teaches about the impact of marginalized groups on culture, gender identity is not mentioned once. I don’t know if this was a matter of Kheshti not bringing up (say) the struggle of transgender musicians, or if the paper simply plucked their quotations around it, but it’s a really strange omission.

I look forward to checking out Kheshti’s book once it comes out, and I have this article to thank for that. But as I mentioned above, it was a rather hollow read and could have done so much more to acknowledge the realities that trans musicians are dealing with. Now more than ever, the media should feel an obligation to lift up marginalized groups, and subtle deadnaming and inattention to their subjects’ realities does not an obligation fulfill.


Breaking Binaries (external)

Wonderfully written article about intersectionality catching up with feminism, particularly in the world of classical composition. What’s interesting to me is that that’s sort of the surface narrative here, but it’s really about marginalized groups trying so hard to get their voices heard, their tiny slices of power, that they forget other marginalized groups that are fighting alongside them. It’s kind of a refreshing article, as it’s not about TERFs or any sort of intentional exclusion necessarily… More the collateral damage of little wins, the ease in which we get caught up in them.

Site is behind some kind of paywall or something, so hopefully the reader hasn’t read two articles on ‘Van’ before. Not sure if that is in a month, or a year, or ever… pretty unclear. Just block cookies, I guess.


Many organizations need support now; Trans Lifeline is one (external)

I haven’t really known what to write or think or do since last Wednesday, but I’m hoping to populate these pages with some more puzzles and game development in the coming days. Attempt to re-channel some of my energy into creating things that might bring a touch of joy. In the meantime, there was one thing I immediately realized – many trans men, women, and youth across the nation were going to be hurting, they were going to be terrified. Trans Lifeline is a crisis hotline for transgender people, and they experienced a record number of calls following the election results. A lot of organizations need help right now, and this is one of them. ⚧