Ever since I started playing video games I assumed every character that wasn’t a princess was a male (this dates all the way back to my Atari 2600 days… yeah, I’m old). The only character I can think of that was ‘distinctly’ female was Ms. Pac Man. That should tell you how pathetic the attempts were to make a decent female character to use in a video game. Sure, there were characters thrown into future games like Final Fantasy, etc. Even in Final Fantasy we have had to assume the role of a male as the lead character in almost every instance. This isn’t to say it’s ‘bad’ it is to say it is creatively weak and limiting in many ways.
Even in games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and even Tomb Raider (the list goes on) the females depicted in these games typically had exaggerated features and/or possessed lacking cognitive presence. Recently, games like The Elder Scrolls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, etc. have allowed us to create characters in our own image. This is something I relish because I have played as a male in every game for the most part. While I enjoy feeling like every moment of my gaming life is like playing with my personal avatar it is nice for a change of pace and a different perspective. Over half of the world’s population is female and close to 98% of all video game protagonists are male.
Enter – Nintendo.
They created quite possibly one of the most recognizable heroes in gaming history in Link. What is curious is that the games are almost always titled with ‘The Legend of Zelda’ somewhere in there. That’s right… the little guy in the elf costume with the wooden sword and bow & arrow is not Zelda… it’s Link. Welcome to the Thunderdome if you didn’t know that by now. Also, perhaps you can see why there is suddenly a bit of curiosity and outrage from fans of the franchise that are wondering why a female can’t be the primary playable character in the new Legend of Zelda game ‘Breath of the Wild’… or any of the others.
Nintendo’s reasoning (according to Eiji Aonuma) was that they couldn’t justify making a female Link and the only realistic option would be to make Princess Zelda the primary character. According to Aonuma, if Zelda was going to be the primary character fighting bad guys, etc. ‘…what was Link going to do?’.
Seriously. That was the justification from Nintendo ‘What was Link going to do?’.
How about this…?
Perhaps we can start the story off with Link going into a deep dark forest or castle or even both. He is looking for something powerful, something without a name, something of which he has limited knowledge and as he begins to open a door with a strange green glow coming from behind he is bound by an unseen force and vanishes, leaving his sword, shield, and bow behind.
Zelda hears through rumors that Link has vanished on his mysterious quest. The man/boy that has saved her on countless occasions is in need of help. Zelda arrives at the scene of Link’s last known location finding his weapons on the ground. She removes her tiara, goes out of the scene briefly and comes back dressed in her own adventuring garb. She picks up Link’s weapons and prepares to kick some ass.
Now, this is just something I came up with as I typed this on my smartphone during a lunch break. It isn’t a story or a fully developed plot, but it is most certainly an answer to the ‘What was Link going to do?’ question.
I refuse to apologize to the multitudes of misogynists that think women are anything less than the equals of men. If you have a problem with women being the hero in a video game it doesn’t bode well for how you view women in more important realms.