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Plugged In

Dad hacks Zelda game for his daughter, makes Link a girl

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(Credit: Mike Hoye)

Link, the hero of Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series, has gone through gender reassignment, and is now a heroine.

Well, at least in Mike Hoye's house.

Hoye has recently been playing the 2003 GameCube hit The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker with his daughter Maya. She loves the sailing, he says, as well as the scary birds and remembering to be brave.

But since Link is always shown as a male in the game's text, her dad (who reads the words on the screen aloud) has had to remember to change all the male references to female on the fly so his daughter didn't feel like she wasn't part of the story.

"You can pick your character's name, of course—I always stick with Link, being a traditionalist—but all of the dialog insists that Link is a boy, and there's apparently nothing to be done about it," he noted on his blog. "Well, there wasn't anything to be done about it, certainly not anything easy, but as you might imagine I'm not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don't get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers."

To fix this, Hoye used an emulator program and dove into the game's code, changing all gender-specific words. "My lad" and "master" became "milady," though space restrictions in the code limited his choices.

When he's not busy doing father-of-the-year type stuff, Hoye is the founder of Bespoke I/O, an enterprise software company based in Toronto.

He's also something of a Zelda scholar, noting in another blog post the complexities of the game's sociopolitical background.

"Your role as a hero there is ostensibly to gain the powers and tools you need to defeat Ganon, noted evil megalomaniac, and secure the safety of the Kingdom of Hyrule," he writes. "But if you look a little closer, your role there is explicitly to restore the status quo ante of the Kingdom of Hyrule, power structure and all. The Royal Family stays Royal, the gods stay gods, the people stay the people. It's a little… undemocratic."

But thanks to his tweaks, it's a little more equal opportunity.

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