Mike Hoye was playing through a lesser-known Zelda title, The Wind Waker, with his young daughter, when he noticed a problem: “[She] likes sailing, scary birds and remembering to be brave, rescuing her little brother and finding out what’s happening to Medli and her dragon boat,” he writes, “she’s the hero of the story, of course.”
But, he says, “it’s annoying and awkward…having to do gender-translation on the fly when Maya asks me to read what it says on the screen.”
“All of the dialog insists that Link is a boy, and there’s apparently nothing to be done about it.”
It’s a minor complaint, but a sweet one: “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,” he wrote on his blog.
Hoye decided to take matters into his own hands, and just fix the game. Since he was playing the game through emulator software, rather than on an actual GameCube, he was able to modify the game’s files in such a way that swapped gendered pronouns in the on-screen dialog. “Swordsman” becomes “swordsmain,” “milady” becomes “my lad,” etc.
He’s also made a game patch available to anyone else who wants to try it, but his situation is admittedly unusual (the game is almost 10 years old), and the instructions aren’t easy for most people to follow.
In a way, though, that almost makes it nicer: an extreme effort for perfectly simple reason. And perhaps developers of kids’ games could take note — games aren’t just for boys. Haven’t been for a long time.