Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dad hacks Wind Waker to make Link a girl for his daughter

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is widely regarded as one of the finest games in the famous fantasy franchise.  With a sweeping narrative set on a positively epic scale, Wind Waker also famously traded the ersatz realism of games like Ocarina of Time for a more artistic, storybook style.

Outside of that change, however, it remains very similar to other Zelda games.  Link, a young boy/elf/kokiri sets off in a big, confusing world after realizing that his destiny is to save Princess Zelda/Tetra/the world.

It's a simple story that resonates with many of us... except for, perhaps, the young girls in the audience.  A loving father, Mike Hoye, saw this as a problem as he began playing through the Zelda games with his young daughter Maya.

While reading her the text from Wind Waker, he would swap the pronouns on the fly to make Link appear as a girl (let's face it, Link was never particularly manly as protagonists go) so that his daughter could more easily identify with the hero.  Any instance of "him" and "he" was changed by Hoye to recast - and regender - Link as a female protagonist.

Eventually, Hoye got tired of remembering to swap pronouns so he did what any good father would do: he used a hex editor to hack the game so that all male pronouns and references to Link as a boy were automatically swapped to, and displayed as, female ones.

What little boy - or girl - wouldn't love to set out on an adventure like this?

Hoye's hack may well put him in contention for Father of the Year, and with good reason.  By making a simple change, he gave his daughter a completely new game that she could identify with.

For those who don't have Hoye's tinkering skills, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a great B-side from the franchise to play with a young child regardless of gender as it casts Zelda and Link as a pair of dual-protagonists.

Sure, Link gets more facetime and Zelda shrieks whenever she sees a mouse... but the fact that Zelda enjoys a good bit of agency in the game and has an active hand in saving herself really makes the game stand out from the rest of the Zelda titles.

Also, it has trains.  Who the hell doesn't love trains?