With snow threatening parts of the US this weekend, why go outside? Worth Reading, our weekly roundup of the best games writing, is here to comfort you.
- “A Response to the Response to the Response to Linkle” by Carolyn Petit
- “Nintendo still won’t make Link a girl, but they’ll put him in a dress and call him Linkle” by Jess Joho
- “I Love Linkle. But Linkle Is Not Enough” by Maddy Meyers
I’ll admit to getting excited when Nintendo revealed Linkle, a female version of Link, would appear in Hyrule Warriors 3DS. Link being a dude has never been a central part of the character, largely because “Link” is more of an ideal (or concept) than a character with fleshed out motivations. I’m not surprised the reaction to Linkle among women has been a mixture of excitement and hesitation. Step in the right direction? Sure. Does it mean much until Linkle (oh, boy, that name) has a chance to be in one of the main games? It’s debatable.
(And hey, why not let players choose if Link is a boy or a girl in the next one?)
An excerpt from Petit’s piece (which is satire, by the way):
Looking back now, you might say that there’s nothing gender-specific about this avatar, and you would be right. But the instruction manual referred to Link with female pronouns, and anyway, almost all the heroes in all the great fantasy legends (and in almost all video games) were female, so heroes were seen as female by default. Without a male gender signifier like a beard or a necktie, there was no reason to interpret Link as anything other than female. It made sense, too. Back in the 80s, it was still considered entirely normal for boys to project themselves onto girls in movies, TV shows, books, and games, to have heroes who were women; female was the “default” gender, and the experiences of girls and women were seen as universal. But girls understood, because the culture taught them to understand, that it was strange to project themselves onto male characters; boys and men were “other,” their experiences inherently gendered and not universal. Perhaps, very slowly, this is starting to change. I don’t know. I hope so.
An excerpt from Joho’s piece:
Here’s the bottom line that Nintendo refuses to see: when people ask “why can’t Link be a girl,” they’re not asking for the option to maybe play as a girl who looks like Link in a game with a Zelda-related title. They’re not asking for girls to be kept to the side, marginalized to a lesser product and project (anyone remember the Nintendo Girls Club?) Instead, they’re asking why—amidst an otherwise very female-centric mythology about three goddesses and a badass princess—must the “Hero” character always be a boy? Why is it okay to ask female players to identify with Link despite their gender differences, but at the same time have it be inconceivable to ask male players to do the same?
An excerpt from Meyers’ piece:
I’m excited as all get out about Linkle. But I also simultaneously feel every other item on that list. I feel disappointed. I feel angry that I and everyone else still care so damn much about a game franchise that, frankly, imbued me with some pretty messed up ideas about femininity when I was a kid.
- Wesley Yin-Poole wondered why Fallout 4 has ditched so many other RPG mechanics, yet keeps encumbrance around. He’d like to see it go away.
- Zak McClendon argued the bugs and glitches in Fallout 4 are part of the experience, and removing them from the game entirely might ruin things.
- Brendan Sinclair reported on Amy Hennig and Jade Raymond discussing imposter syndrome—the feeling you’re secretly a fraud—at a recent event.
- fictiv tore apart a bunch of Nintendo controllers to expose what’s happening on the inside and how its design has changed over the years.
You can reach the author of this post at email@example.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.