Feminist video game hacking
Via Jason Kottke:
There are very few video games with female heros because video game publishers don’t support them. So what’s a father like Mike Hoye to do when he wants his three year old daughter to be able to see herself as the hero in The Legend of Zelda? Rewrite the game.
It’s annoying and awkward, to put it mildly, having to do gender-translation on the fly when Maya asks me to read what it says on the screen. 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.
(via Ars Technica)
Matt Langdon and I discussed the issue of gender stereotyping and female action heroes on the Hero Report podcast back in September; you can watch or listen to it here.
At the heart of a tour de force about the manifold problems in Legend of Zelda video games since the 1987 original, and how to make new iterations stronger, Tevis Thompson has the following insight about the idea of heroism upon which all of the Zelda games are based:
The point of a hero’s adventure… is not to make you feel better about yourself. The point is to grow, to overcome, to in some way actually become better. If a legendary quest has no substantial challenge, if it asks nothing of you except that you jump through the hoops it so carefully lays out for you, then the very legend is unworthy of being told, and retold.
This is precisely why I — like Thompson and like so many others — were captivated by the original game: There was so much space to explore, so much to do, and something of an uncertainty at times about how to proceed. And it’s why the whole concept of a heroic journey or adventure continues to resonate with so many people, within the world of video games (where the risks are obviously mitigated) and in life (where the risks remain but where the adventures are one’s own).