It’s no secret that video games (and mass media as a whole) tend to focus on classic male hero archetypes. With few exceptions, most blockbuster games (and films, and comic books, and novels) are headlined by a gruff, badass dude with a chip on his shoulder and the skills and dry, cool wit to dispatch his foes in inspiringly bloody fashion. That’s pretty neat if you happen to be a guy, as we have endless fictional role models on which to build our own, real-world personas, but what if you happen to be a bit more distaff?
This was the problem facing Mike Hoye, a game developer and father who hoped that he could bond with his daughter Maya by playing video games with the young lady. Though the duo quite enjoyed Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Hoye found himself constantly having to mentally replace the game’s male pronouns when reading descriptive text to Maya. He wanted to instill in her the idea that women are just as capable of saving the world as men, so instead of tripping over he’s and his’s for months to come, Hoye decided to use his skills as a programmer to alter the game to his liking.
Hoye’s blog includes a pretty comprehensive description of everything he did (as well as instructions on how you too can enjoy Hoye’s alterations), but the quick version is that Hoye built a patch for the game for use with the Dolphin GameCube emulator. Once users have applied this patch, all of the game’s references to Link being a man have been replaced with descriptions of his newly female self. This wasn’t as easy as replacing “him” with “her” though, as Hoye had to make sure that each word he replaced occupied the exact same amount of space in the game’s memory as Wind Waker’s original text. Thus, some of the changes are a bit odd (“swordmain” instead of “swordsman,” for instance), but overall Hoye’s work does a pretty solid job of turning Link into a proper female role model for little Maya Hoye.
Of course, if you’ve played any of the Legend of Zelda games, you’re already aware that Link has never been seen as the classic pinnacle of masculine stereotypes. Even while slicing enemies in half, Link has always been effete, and his in-game grunts of pain are certainly not gender specific. For that matter, if you run a search for cosplayers dressed as Link, you’ll find a massive number of women who make surprisingly accurate doppelgangers of the Hylian hero.
Now that Hoye has gone to the trouble of turning Link into a lady, it makes us wonder who else might be ripe for a gender swap. The name “Samus Aran” is pretty neutral, right? What if she was turned into the man that fans expected her to be back when the original Metroid hit shelves in 1986? We’re not saying any of you should take on this project, as if you’re successful the blowback from angry Nintendo geeks will undoubtedly be massive, but if you’re willing to risk that verbal assault we’d love to see the finished results. Not for any gender equality reasons, but simply because discord makes great news.