A selection of text modified to address Mike Hoye's daughter.
I recently read about Mike Hoye, a father who became concerned that even though you can change the name of the main character in the game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the character continues to be addressed as though they were male. He and his three year old daughter have been playing the game together, with Hoye reading the text out as though it referred to a female character. To make this easier on himself in the long run, he reprogrammed his copy of the game so that the text referred to the main character as a girl.
I love the fact that this father was so concerned about giving his daughter good role models that he want to all that trouble; many games aimed at young girls tend to focus on princesses or puppies or pink or presumably other things beginning with the letter P.
When I was a girl, the games I loved didn’t feature girls much either. One of my favourite Christmas gifts was my Sega Mega Drive complete with a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog. Along with Sonic, my other favourite game was ToeJam & Earl. Everyone knows Sonic, but ToeJam & Earl are a little less known, I think. All three of these characters are male, but I’m not certain I really registered that fact as a girl. It was far more noticeable to me that the characters I was having so much fun playing were a blue hedgehog with red shoes, a three-legged red alien, and a fat orange alien.
Do I feel that I missed out on having positive female role models in games? Not really, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need them – it can hardly be said that I speak for all girls. But the reason we love games, as children and adults, is that we connect with them in some way. It doesn’t have to be a deep connection – it can be as shallow as thinking that red running shoes are awesome. What Mike Hoye has done by creating a female Link especially for his little girl is not only create a positive and proactive female hero for her to admire and enjoy, but forge a stronger and deeper link (pun not intended) between himself and his daughter. I hope they continue to play games together in the future – and that Hoye doesn’t have to resort to such drastic measures to find suitable role models.
Girl Museum Inc.