According to a report from NintendoLife the new Legend of Zelda game for Wii U may finally let players select their character’s gender. Every instalment in the Legend of Zelda series has always starred Link, the green tunic clad elf. But according to a some tweets from Nintendo employees the new game may let players choose the gender of the longtime male series protagonist.
This rumour fits with what seasoned series designer Eiji Anuma has said in previous interviews about the upcoming Wii U exclusive. Anuma has stated that the new Zelda game will shake things up and hopefully prevent the tried and true Zelda formula from becoming stale. In an interview with Famitsu, relayed by Kotaku, Anuma likened the new changes to “going from Japanese food to Western style food.” This is possibly a reference to stepping away from the sparring, desolate worlds traditionally found in Japanese games and moving towards the more dense, populated worlds found in Western RPGs. Western RPGs like Fallout, Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect all let players select their character’s gender. Whether this change Anuma talked about will bring with it the choice to play as someone other than Link remains to be seen.
It’s important to note that a female version of Link called “Linkle” has already been created for the 3DS game Hyrule Warriors Legends. She received a mixed reception from fans who appreciated finally being able to play as a female Link but taking away the master sword and giving her crossbows totally defeats the point of playing as a female version of Link. Link had always been somewhat androgynous but by naming her “Linkle” and making her a separate character it’s made clear that she isn’t Link, she’s something else and Link can’t be female. It’s a small step forward but several large steps back.
Now before everyone gets all uppity about this possible change, as of course some gamers have already, I implore people to think more about Link’s role in the Zelda games. His name is Link because he is the player’s connection to the story, the link between the player and the world. He’s an avatar, a vessel through which to explore the world of Hyrule. He doesn’t speak, his relationships and story are reset every game and there’s no continuity that would be destroyed by changing his gender. There is absolutely no reason that Link couldn’t be a woman since the purpose of the character is to connect players to the game and the story. With this in mind it doesn’t make sense that there hasn’t been an option to play as a woman in previous Zelda games.
As I’ve written previously there is a serious problem with the lack of female representation in games. The prospect of a series as prominent as the Legend of Zelda series taking an important step towards gender diversity is exciting. This past February the series turned 30 years old. The Legend of Zelda was many people’s first video game and it has been a franchise that has defined each and every generation of consoles with incredibly innovative and memorable experiences. As the series moves forwards, I sincerely hope that this beloved series does what it so desperately should and finally allow players and Zelda fans, tons of whom are women, to finally play as their preferred gender when the next Zelda launches on Wii U later this year.
What are your thoughts on gender selection in the new Zelda game? Love to hear what you think in the comments below! And for more awesome video game content be sure to check out the rest of our blog!