While the character was little more than an aesthetic change and a new voice actor, Mass Effect's FemShep is held up as one of the best examples of strong female characters in video games. But now, thanks to a thoroughly awesome dad, the female Commander Shepard has some competition: Link.
...yes, that Link. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker era, to be precise.
Mike Hoye has been playing through Wind Waker, and sharing the experience with his young daughter, Maya. Like all good Dads, Mike has made Maya the hero of the story.
She likes sailing, scary birds and remembering to be brave, rescuing her little brother and finding out what’s happening to Medli and her dragon boat.
However, as you may remember, Link is a boy, and his task is to rescue his little sister. Mike didn't really think that was fair, so as he played, and Maya asked him to read the text on the screen, he would flip all the pronouns, just for her. Link became a girl, and her brother was the one in peril.
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.
As great as this was, it got kinda old kinda quickly, and Mike started looking for a less awkward way of getting around the issue. His solution surely makes him eligible for a Geek Dad of the Year award: He hacked the Wind Waker source code, switching all of the "his" to "hers", "boys" to "girls" and "my lad" to "milady".
To do this, he downloaded an emulator, loaded up the hex code of the original disk image, and changed a whole bunch of words. Of course, editing the code directly in this way means that each word has to be the same length in bytes, which posed some interesting problems.
I haven’t had time to play through the whole game to test it yet, and some of the constructions aren’t perfect. I’ve borrowed Donaldson’s “Swordmain” coinage to replace “Swordsman”, for example, and there’s lots of “milady” replacing “my lad” and “master”, because I couldn’t find a better way to rewrite them in exactly the amount of space allotted. If you come up with something better, I’m all ears.
Mike's blog post about the experience is shared over on his blog, exple.tive.org, and he's actually copping a little flak in the comments - including from Zelda fans who are mortified that someone is messing with the canon.
As a little girl who loved The Great Giana Sisters way more than anything involving plumbers, regardless of the somewhat glaring similarities, I offer a resounding "Good on you, Dad". Who knows who might be paying attention.
I like video games, fishing, Depeche Mode, long walks on the beach, writing discussion papers and cups of tea. Not necessarily in that order.
Jimmy the Geek