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Parent Hacks Gender Neutral Language Into Link to the Past

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Comic Strip

Yes! Another awesome parent doing awesome things. The person behind Echo Park Mac & PC Repair hacked the best Zelda game ever (Link to the Past) to change all the language to reflect a gender neutral protagonist. This involved changing the instances of “boy” and “son” to “kid” and things like that. Where they found difficulty was in trying to change “he” out to more gender neutral language.

From the blog post about the hacked game:

My 6-month-old baby daughter isn’t old enough yet to handle a game controller without sticking it in her mouth, but I’ve already started planning her introduction to the big wide world of games. Unfortunately, many of the “classics” were hardcoded from a male perspective and feature male protagonists as the only playable characters.

There are plenty of classic books and movies all told from a male perspective that my daughter will likely endure, but what makes the medium of video games unique is that it’s technically possible to hack them to remove the gender bias and present a more engaging and empowering experience for the next generation of young gamers.

To change the language without running into glitches or bugs, the character counts had to be the same. Since they couldn’t very well change “he” to “they,” the developer changed it to “ye” in order to keep in the medieval-esque nature of the game. That or they want to inspire their daughter to be more like Kanye. Either way.

And, this being the internet, no good deed goes unpunished. If you check out the original blog post about the hacked game, you’ll find plenty of “gamerzzz” and “elite doods” who think these changes don’t make any sense. There are tons of folks who think that this was a waste of time. There are even more people who make a false equivalency argument, asking them when they’re going to make Metroid gender neutral. Dude, are you joking? Because I hope you’re joking.

It gets better. One guy said he’s never had a problem playing as a female character, and he’s had to do so his whole life (can you imagine), so he doesn’t see any point in why this has to exist.

I’ve been playing games my whole life, and I NEVER had a problem playing as female characters. If any guy told me he does, I’d laugh and think he is weak and insecure. Why do you assume your daughter will be weak and insecure?

Their answer to this (frankly ridiculous question) kind of nailed it right on the head:

I had such a thrill playing the Zelda games for the first time as a young boy. The game has many valuable lessons to impart such as exploration, helping others, trying again after failing, and having the courage to pursue the path of a hero’s destiny. I didn’t realize it then, but I now can clearly see that the games of that era were predominantly marketed towards boys and featured boys as the leading heroes.

Even today, I still don’t think there are enough great games that portray women (or LGBT or minorities) in a positive light as the playable hero of the game. There will remain many great games out there that will still have the leading role as male, and a much smaller number of great games with the leading role as female, but I hope that game companies and/or ROM hackers can continue to tip the scales a bit so that the playing field is more level.

It doesn’t detract from a well-crafted game like A Link to the Past to have the hero be gender-neutral. If anything, I think it’s an upgrade / bug fix, because the game already let the player rename Link at the start of the game which would produce grammatical errors with female names and male pronouns.

So much applause. Way to be a great parent, pal. The world could use more people like you hacking and fixing things to be the way they should be. Cheers.

If you want to check out the updated/fixed version of Link to the Past, you can head on over to Echo Park Mac & PC to read the blog post which also contains a link to the .vcdiff file which will let you play it if you have the… er, proper means.

(via Gadgette, image via Nintendo Power/Shotaro Ishinomori)

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