Smith says that while his daughter is only six months old, he is excited and already planning her introduction to the world of games. But he is dismayed by the fact that most of the classic video games are all from a male perspective with male protagonists.
“There are plenty of classic books and movies all told from a male perspective that my daughter will likely endure, but what makes the medium of video games unique is that it’s technically possible to hack them to remove the gender bias and present a more engaging and empowering experience for the next generation of young gamers.”
Smith, inspired by hacks like Zelda Starring Zelda, which makes it so gamers play as Zelda saving Link, he set about the make his own hack. He wanted to leave the characters in tact in ‘A Link to the Past,’ but make Link completely gender-neutral. Because Link’s graphics were pretty androgynous anyway, all he had to do was go through and replace any in-game dialogue that referred to Link as male.
“I combed through all of the in-game text and replaced every instance of Link’s male pronouns with gender-neutral language. To prevent introducing any bugs or glitches in the game, I had to use words with the exact same number of characters; “boy” and “son” were easily replaced with “kid,” but I had to get a little creative in other instances. Since I couldn’t replace “he” with “she,” I went with the Old English “ye,” which I think works in the context of Link serving as an avatar for the actual game player.”
Smith could have easily replaced the reference to female pronouns, but he went with gender-neutral references because he wanted it to be inclusive to all gamers.
“My hope is that other ROM hackers can join the cause and create gender-neutral versions of the rest of the Zelda series and all of the other classic games 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.”
You can download his hack here.