ONTD Political

Father Hacks Zelda For His Daughter, Makes Link A Girl

12:29 pm - 11/09/2012
Maybe Link doesn't need to be a young boy.

The father of one little girl decided he'd change the gender of one of Nintendo's most iconic characters so he hacked The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. While playing the 2003 Gamecube title with his daughter Maya, Mike Hoye had been reading the game's text to her, switching the pronouns to match her gender.

Tiring of that, Hoye went one better and actually wrote scripts that switched all gendered pronouns in the game from male to female.
In the blog post where he explains how he did it, Hoye explains that access to the infamous Dolphin emulator and some programming knowledge are required to pull off the feat. He poignantly lays out his motivation here:

You can pick your character's name, of course—I always stick with Link, being a traditionalist—but all of the dialog insists that Link is a boy, and there's apparently nothing to be done about it.

Well, there wasn't anything to be done about it, certainly not anything easy, but as you might imagine I'm not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don't get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers.

Like The Legend of Zelda, some of gaming's most storied franchises have been locked in with certain lead characters since their inception. As a result, it might be harder to imagine that the you that stares back from the mirror is the hero of, say, a Castlevania game. Nowadays, it's easy to take for granted that lots of games will let you play as any kind of character you want. But stories like Hoye's make clear just how important a seemingly bland feature like customization can be to players from all walks of life.

Source is enjoying the break from politics for a second, and encourages cute gif threads in the comments <3
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kaelstra 9th-Nov-2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
No, I'm not crying, there's just...it's really...dusty....

jupiter_third 9th-Nov-2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
This is amazing.
lady_tigerlily 9th-Nov-2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
Not sure how I feel about this one, actually. Link's a fixed character. Despite his best intentions, he's trying to change the character that Miyamoto created to prove a point he could have made without doing that. I grew up playing games with male lead characters (Mario, Legend of Zelda, Megaman, Pokemon), and I never got out of it that girls couldn't be heroes. Then there's Metroid too, whose main character is a strong female character.
kitanabychoice 9th-Nov-2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
I don't think that the link (haha pun) between male-led video game characters and that females can't be heroes is an obvious one, but in a society where everything "manly" is good while everything "womanly" is inferior, I think you have to keep making the point over and over, in as many ways as you can, to build the kind of self-esteem needed to combat an unfair system.

Also, I thought that most people originally didn't know that Metroid's main character was female. From people I've talked to, it came as a shock to a lot of them.
back_track 9th-Nov-2012 05:52 pm (UTC)

And to everyone who is saying that Link is a character with a backstory/this is intellectual property: so what? He's not trying to force this on the franchise. Maybe his daughter LOVES Link (kids often become obsessed with a character) and he wants to let her know that girls can be kick-ass heroes too?
lovedforaday 9th-Nov-2012 05:56 pm (UTC)

Of course, the Kotaku commenters threw a fit about this. It's like their heads explode whenever they're confronted with the fact that some people want to play games with women and girl characters.
kaelstra 9th-Nov-2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
I never ever read the comments on any of those sites, because it's still a cesspool of cis-gendered privileged assholes who don't like their privilege being affronted.
maladaptive 9th-Nov-2012 06:01 pm (UTC)
I saw it posted elsewhere and spent a long time reading the comments, which were a great mix if:

- this is awesome
- bawww artistic integrity
- how would you feel if we changed Samus or Lara Croft into a man
- the daughter wouldn't even notice because children know the difference between fantasy and reality and no woman has ever been impacted any way in never seeing herself as the hero
- it's not historically accurate to have lady adventurers (didn't ask how he felt about the historical accuracy of Zelda living it up as a pirate, though)

I see Kotaku also does not disappoint with the clueless men.

I was surprised because Wind Waker Link is a little boy and totally gender ambiguous if you really look at his design (he has basically the same figure as Zelda). So making him into a girl actually really only involves changing pronouns and whatnot, and aside from our preconceived notions of gender he would totally work as a girl.

And damn now I gotta go play Wind Waker.
kaelstra 9th-Nov-2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
how would you feel if we changed Samus or Lara Croft into a man

Lol, okay cis-men, sit down. A) The first time everyone played Metroid, we all assumed Samus was male. I mean, Samus seems like a masculine name, and the armor wasn't exactly feminine in the since that we're used to now in our games-i.e. it wasn't revealing and displaying her T&A.

B) Lara Croft was a pretty awesome female character, but let's be real, she wasn't really designed FOR women. She was designed to pander to the male gaze, and big time. All of the articles at the time loved to make light of her huge breasts, and how it became her trademark feature. Whenever Lara was depicted with smaller breasts, people men would generally act outraged at this. She was a strong badass explorer, but was usually broken down to being only worth her chest and ass at the end of the day by most of her male players.

I hate it when men try to turn everything around and make it about them. How dare anyone tread on the sacred territory that is the male gender! How dare anyone change Link to a girl!


back_track 9th-Nov-2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
One other thing that we've tried to do is that since people have played Zelda over the years, they have their ideas of how Link might sound. If we were to put a voice in there that might not match up with someone else's image, then there would be a backlash to that


clearly the creators of the game are SO AGAINST people having their own image of Link/are really set on making sure the character is THEIR CONCEPTION and THEIR CONCEPTION ONLY. eyeroll.

most people who create characters, whether for movies or for books or for video games, understand that people have their own conception of the character and it may differ from the creator's and are not only okay with that, they welcome that.
stainedfeathers 10th-Nov-2012 02:12 am (UTC)
"most people who create characters, whether for movies or for books or for video games, understand that people have their own conception of the character and it may differ from the creator's and are not only okay with that, they welcome that."

Given that I'm one of those people, I agree with this! Fanart helps encourage fans and bring in new ones, and many people who go into games/movies/etc. come from a background of having been fan artists and game tweakers.
ballooon 9th-Nov-2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
awww nerd/video game culture can be so sexist, this is qt
back_track 9th-Nov-2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
also, why do people assume that changing the gender = changing the personality?
effervescent 9th-Nov-2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
I had this conversation last night about Elementary and Watson. :/ Somehow modern NY wasn't as offensive as the gender change.
teacup_werewolf 9th-Nov-2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
I've been playing Zelda since I had a NES controller in my chubby four year old hands and since my mother was yelling "GODDAMN WIZROBES" at the TV while she played Zelda II. I think this pretty awesome, and as I said up thread much of the fandom likes the idea of Link's next incarnation to be a woman and Zelda to be a prince and have the roles inverted. I would love it personally, there has been enough fanfic already with roles inverted so hey good on this man.

effervescent 9th-Nov-2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
This is awesome. :D The people who can't take the character being changed can stfu.
evilnel 9th-Nov-2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
I find this awesome. I'm not a gamer but many of my women gamer friends have expressed dismay that IF there is an option to be a female character (such as in a lot of rpg type games), the lead has huge breasts and skin tight, ridiculous clothing. I LOVE that her dad did this! I also like the LadyLink somebody posted above. It reminds me a bit of this awesome flautist who cosplays as Link and plays the Zelda music.

(She does the arrangements herself.)

Isn't Link supposed to be pretty young anyway? It's not like there's much in the way of sex characteristics to identify him either way.
kaelstra 9th-Nov-2012 06:39 pm (UTC)
It depends on which game. Sometimes he's a little kid, sometimes he's a teenager. He's always depicted as being younger though, and never really being out of his teens at best.
kaelstra 9th-Nov-2012 06:40 pm (UTC)
FYI I love most of you guys right now. This has been my favorite discussion here in awhile. ♥
hammersxstrings 9th-Nov-2012 06:55 pm (UTC)

i'm not a big Wind Walker fan. I liked Twilight Princess (although I didn't get to play it too much)

my favorite will always forever be Ocarina of Time tho
freezer 9th-Nov-2012 07:03 pm (UTC)
Am I the only one disappointed that this wasn't the dad hacking the character model to turn "Link" into "Linka?"
layweed 9th-Nov-2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
ugh puzzle quest i hate your guts (currently sucked into the blackhole known as PQ2)
nebulous_mirage 9th-Nov-2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
no jokes about how non-players keep on mistakenly calling Link Zelda?

also, recently beat Skyward Sword on Hero Mode, and now helping younger sister through her game. She's currently stuck on the mining facility.
kahluaandcream 9th-Nov-2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
I got about as far as those weird hedgehog things and gave up. Which is terrible, I know, but I just couldn't get that last one. I love my golden Wii Remote, though.
fm_gatekeeper 9th-Nov-2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
...As a trans guy this really, really rubs me the wrong way and I'm not sure why. I know it's tied up in my gender issues somewhere. Then again, this affects me and my life not at all, so in the end I guess it doesn't really matter.
lady_tigerlily 9th-Nov-2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
I think I'm on the same uncertain discomfort train. I'm not precisely sure why either, beyond a handful of things I mentioned up-thread.
kahluaandcream 9th-Nov-2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
I would pay good money to have this be the default. That's why I love games like Pokemon and Harvest Moon, and the Sims - the ability to play as either gender you prefer is huge to me.

Although, confession time, I haven't played Mass Effect. I have Dragon Age:Origins but I haven't tried it yet.
layweed 9th-Nov-2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
I honestly don't get the big deal about either of those games. I got an hour or so into both and they were so dullllllllllllllllllllll. =\
freezer 9th-Nov-2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
Maybe when she's older, Dad can introduce her to Metroid Prime and Beyond Good and Evil.
lady_tigerlily 9th-Nov-2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
And Silent Hill 3!
kahluaandcream 9th-Nov-2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
Also, for those concerned about IP, I wouldn't worry about it. If a guy can show Super Mario Clouds as a major piece of art, I think this guy can go in and change gender pronouns. Remix culture is awesome!
scolaro 9th-Nov-2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
Wow. That game was the first one I ever tested. It's freaking HUGE, text-wise! What a great mission the dad set himself, and how cool is he for investing so much time and effort to do this for his daughter!
silmaril 9th-Nov-2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
1. This is so extremely surreal to me, because I've known the guy online for years. I'm talking more-than-a-decade. As one of the comments to the Ars Technica article states, he is a badass dad.
(1.5. Also, dude, he hacked the binary with a hex editor how cool is that.)
2. Here is his original blog post about this.
astridmyrna 9th-Nov-2012 08:46 pm (UTC)
That is awesome and some serious dedication to his daughter.
candybouquet 9th-Nov-2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
Was really elated reading this (and with my favorite Zelda game!) Also, A+ parenting props to the dad!

The comments about how we need a female Link (seriously!) reminds me of this super badass concept of a Zelda game I saw someone post on tumblr:

Kind of thinking of a iteration of the Legend of Zelda where Link is reincarnated as a adolescent girl, maybe in a more industrialized version of Hyrule (Ganondorf as a ludite? An ecoterrorist? A prominent businesswoman? AN EQUALIS—no) , because LoZ feels like a really stagnant-ass property to me these days (subjective trope, YMMV). Though you really can’t get industrialized from this drawing because I am too lazy to do, like, backgrounds or NPCs today. What I’m not to lazy to do is scribble pictures of shields i guess. I’m thinking a sassy shield companion made at least partially of deku wood would would be nice. It’d tell her stories of the old days, when it was just a few pieces of wood, leather, and an iron ingot full of dreams. [x]

I would seriously back a kickstarter for this.
crossfire 9th-Nov-2012 09:02 pm (UTC)
I totally don't understand the wangst about this. It's awesome both techically (what a hack!) and socially.
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