Reader Tony has a young daughter who, fingers crossed, will soon grow up to play the classics. And when she moves onto The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, he’s got a little surprise waiting for her.
Aware that as a young boy he got to play through his favourite Zelda games as...a young boy, Tony—inspired by Kenna W’s “Zelda saves Link” hack—has dug into A Link To The Past and “replaced every instance of Link’s male pronouns with gender-neutral language.” Just in case his daughter wants to do the same thing.
It’s a fairly simple flip. “Since Link’s graphical appearance in A Link to the Past is fairly androgynous to begin with,” Tony says, “the only aspect of the game that needed to be ‘fixed’ was all of the in-game dialogue referring to Link as a boy.”
I combed through all of the in-game text and replaced every instance of Link’s male pronouns with gender-neutral language. To prevent introducing any bugs or glitches in the game, I had to use words with the exact same number of characters; “boy” and “son” were easily replaced with “kid,” but I had to get a little creative in other instances. Since I couldn’t replace “he” with “she,” I went with the Old English “ye,” which I think works in the context of Link serving as an avatar for the actual game player.
So why gender-neutral and not gender-swapped, since the game was originally conceived for his daughter? Because in making the hack available for everyone, it’s for everyone, not just his daughter.
“I believe that the public conversation to date on gender-swapped video game hacks has left out the transgendered community and others whose gender identities are more complicated than the simple binary ‘male’ or ‘female’,” Tony tells Kotaku.
“In my gender-neutral hack of A Link to the Past, although Zelda remains female, the protagonist character of Link controlled by the player (and whom the player is supposed to most closely identify with) is completely gender-neutral and can embody whatever gender the player brings to the game.”