When playing the classic Nintendo game "The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past," it's hard to ignore the pointedly male gender of the dialogue. The game debuted in 1992, when the image of who plays video games was still basically Macaulay Culkin circa "Home Alone." So Nintendo, naturally, made Zelda's main character, Link, a boy and any player of the game is addressed as if she were a boy.
One Zelda-loving dad decided to do something about this: he hacked the game to replace all of the dialogue's male pronouns with ones that are gender neutral instead.
Where the game dialogue might tell a player they're "not allowed in the castle, son," for example, the dad, who goes only by Tony, replaced the words "son" with "kid."
"My 6-month-old baby daughter isn’t old enough yet to handle a game controller without sticking it in her mouth, but I’ve already started planning her introduction to the big wide world of games," Tony wrote about the hack on the blog for his business, a computer repair shop in Los Angeles. "Unfortunately, many of the 'classics' were hardcoded from a male perspective and feature male protagonists as the only playable characters."
Since hero Link's appearance is actually fairly androgynous, the main problem with the game was the language. Tony combed through all of the game's text and replaced every male pronoun with ones that were gender neutral. It was important, he wrote, to make sure the words were neutral rather than just flipped to female, to turn the game into something all kids can identify with, no matter their personal identity. In some instances, that meant getting a little creative, like replacing "he" with the Old English “ye" rather than just "she."
Tony isn't the first to hack "Legend of Zelda's" gender. Back in 2012, another dad hacked "The Wind Waker" so that his daughter could play as a female Link. And the animator Kenna hacked both "The Legend of Zelda" and "A Link to the Past" so that the game could be played with the female character, Zelda, saving the male character, Link.
Tony's hack, though, may be the first to make the game entirely gender-neutral.
"My hope is that Nintendo…can join the cause and create gender-neutral versions of the rest of the Zelda series," he wrote, "so that by the time my daughter stops chewing on joysticks, she’ll be able to have just as satisfying of a personal gaming experience as the opposite sex has been able to enjoy for all these years."
Really though, it's most surprising that Nintendo hasn't revisited its archives to do this already. After all, research now shows that more women play games than men.