Three Very Different Takes On Linkle, The Female Link

Three Very Different Takes On Linkle, The Female Link

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Three Very Different Takes On Linkle, The Female Link

I’ll admit to getting excited when Nintendo revealed Linkle, a female version of Link, would appear in Hyrule Warriors 3DS. Link being a dude has never been a central part of the character, largely because “Link” is more of an ideal (or concept) than a character with fleshed out motivations. I’m not surprised the reaction to Linkle among women has been a mixture of excitement and hesitation. Step in the right direction? Sure. Does it mean much until Linkle (oh, boy, that name) has a chance to be in one of the main games? It’s debatable.

(And hey, why not let players choose if Link is a boy or a girl in the next one?)

An excerpt from Petit’s piece (which is satire, by the way):

Looking back now, you might say that there’s nothing gender-specific about this avatar, and you would be right. But the instruction manual referred to Link with female pronouns, and anyway, almost all the heroes in all the great fantasy legends (and in almost all video games) were female, so heroes were seen as female by default. Without a male gender signifier like a beard or a necktie, there was no reason to interpret Link as anything other than female. It made sense, too. Back in the 80s, it was still considered entirely normal for boys to project themselves onto girls in movies, TV shows, books, and games, to have heroes who were women; female was the “default” gender, and the experiences of girls and women were seen as universal. But girls understood, because the culture taught them to understand, that it was strange to project themselves onto male characters; boys and men were “other,” their experiences inherently gendered and not universal. Perhaps, very slowly, this is starting to change. I don’t know. I hope so.

An excerpt from Joho’s piece:

Here’s the bottom line that Nintendo refuses to see: when people ask “why can’t Link be a girl,” they’re not asking for the option to maybe play as a girl who looks like Link in a game with a Zelda-related title. They’re not asking for girls to be kept to the side, marginalized to a lesser product and project (anyone remember the Nintendo Girls Club?) Instead, they’re asking why — amidst an otherwise very female-centric mythology about three goddesses and a badass princess — must the “Hero” character always be a boy? Why is it ok to ask female players to identify with Link despite their gender differences, but at the same time have it be inconceivable to ask male players to do the same?

An excerpt from Meyers’ piece:

I’m excited as all get out about Linkle. But I also simultaneously feel every other item on that list. I feel disappointed. I feel angry that I and everyone else still care so damn much about a game franchise that, frankly, imbued me with some pretty messed up ideas about femininity when I was a kid.

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  • I don’t mind if Link is a dude and I think that the inclusion of Linkle is pretty cool, and I’m not sure if there’s actually much to read into Nintendo’s addition of her TBH.

    Edit: Although don’t get me wrong, having a gender select option in the games or just designing the character to be gender neutral would be fine with me as well. All I’m saying is that, as a dude, if a character I’m playing as or watching is a girl, and is written to be relatable, then that’s fine with me as well. The gender of the character, when well written, doesn’t necessarily have to hamper my enjoyment/ engagement in the story/ character.

    Even if there was something more to it, I doubt it’s much more than Nintendo always playing it ridiculously ‘safe’ with any changes to any of their franchises, this way they get to give fans what they want in a way that’s still ‘safe’ for shareholders etc.

    Just my 2c.

      • No, lol, what I mean is, Link already looks quite feminine, why make the distinction if they don’t have to?

        EDIT: Although I do get what I think your getting at, which is that it could cause a bigger disconnect than just picking one. I just brought it up as an option, I personally don’t think it matters what gender link is, but having set the lore up and being created as a boy by a man trying to relive his child hood (in a sense) I feel that Link should ‘probably’ stay a boy, unless the actual creators want to try a different approach for narrative reasons, and not just to appease the internet.

  • Why can’t Tomb Raider be a man? Why can’t Sarah Connor be a man in the next one? Why can’t Katniss Everdeen be rebooted as a dude? Because these characters already exist? And changing their gender for some inexplicable reason makes less than zero sense?

    I am all for more female characters, but make a new one, don’t just gender swap an existing male character. It lacks imagination and it just comes across like the advocates for these sorts of ideas are playing a zero-sum game with “equality”. I would rather see a hundred new and bold ideas fail with any kind of protagonist the creator likes than see this ridiculous idiot appeasement that we’ve been seeing with stale existing IPs like the latest Assassin’s Creed.

    • Except in the Link case, it’s common knowledge that many Zelda games actually have a different hero, who are somehow loosely related to each other (is he being reincarnated? Is it a long family history of heroes that wear green clothes? It’s not entirely clear), and so there’s actually no reason why one of them couldn’t be female.

    • Each Link is a new Link, not many of the games share a Link. That situation is not applicable with any of the examples you gave.

      If there are multiple timelines in the greater Zelda universe, and numerous iterations of a character called Link, why can’t any of those characters be female? The simple answer is that the developers don’t want a female lead; there’s no in-universe logic excluding a female Link.

      I’d prefer a LoZ game where the protagonist is Zelda, rather than a female Link, but given the situation with paper-doll Links, I see no reason why there shouldn’t be a female for a canon game.

      • I’ll make the slight adjustment and say the the devs don’t want Link to be a girl. If they did, they would have done so already given as you say the paper-doll situation. But they haven’t. Because for all intents and purposes, each incarnation of Link, Zelda and Ganondorf represent the same entity. Some details may be different, but some are set in stone, one of them being their genders and I for one am perfectly okay with that because I am okay with the games being about a boy saving a girl.

      • I never knew that they were all different links. That’s a valid point you’ve made.

        But then, why didn’t I know that? If every Link looks pretty much the same, wears the same clothes, has the same abilities and fills the same role each game, are they really different at all? If the developers make little to no in game reference that these Links are in fact different, then aren’t they for all intents and purposes the same character? If the developer says one thing, but then does another, it seems like we should just take the evidence of what we have to work with and assume that Link, at the very least, is a template, and that template is male.

        If the creators decide to make link a female for whatever reason in their next game, that’s cool. But to have this pressure put on them is absurd. I agree with you, flip the roles, make Zelda the star of the next one, having to save Link, but don’t change character genders and identities simply because of internet social justice pressure.

        • Many Zelda titles state explicitly that the story has happened before and the hero who saved the world is a figure of legend. It’s said multiple times in multiple games that they aren’t all the same link.

  • What is with this incessant desire to alter an existing character’s gender? Could one of Link’s reincarnations be female? Sure. Could Mario be transported to a gender-swapped universe? Possible. Could Lara Croft be placed under a curse that transforms her into a dude? Maybe.
    But why do you want that? Why do you need an existing character changed? Shouldn’t characters be heralded for their actions and not whatever bunch of pixels make up their nether-regions?
    The focus should be on making new and interesting characters of all genders, not changing existing ones to fit some narrative want. To constantly complain and whinge that Link has not been made a girl to me is the same level of egotistical desire of those a while back that were trying to make “Samus is a trans” a thing.

  • Here we go again. I particularly like how she’s referred to as female version of Link, as if that’s all she is, as opposed to her own character. If Nintendo wanted to make Link a girl, they would have done it a long time ago. It’s not like they’ve ever been bound by conventions of what a protagonist should be or else Samus wouldn’t exist.

    Truth of the matter is, Link was designed to a boy from his very conception. The series at its core is about a boy saving a girl. That there is part of the magic of the series that has stood strong for almost 30 years. After such a period of time, characters like Link and Zelda represent something to not just us the players, but also become icons and symbols to the company responsible for them. These things become deep rooted into a company’s culture and mythos. That is pretty much why I think think Nintendo will never make Link a girl or give the option for such and frankly, if you can’t accept Link for who he is, that is your problem.

    Asking why Link can’t be a girl is honestly the wrong question to ask and a waste of effort.

  • I don’t mind Linkle at all. I mind the expectation of “more”, though. I’m all for gender political correctness, for gender equality and for increased and improved representation of females in media. But dammit, not EVERYTHING needs to get the treatment. The Legend of Zelda has a very basic, but very strong underlying plot: The fateful nature of the Triforce has linked the lives of three persons, who are destined to reincarnate through history to battle over its balance. Circumstances surrounding their birth in every reincarnation change a few of their individual traits, but in the end, they are the SAME person every time. There’s literally no reason or necessity to gender-bend the characters just to satisfy an agenda tangential to the plot.

    If you really want female representation, lobby for Zelda to be the hero of a game. I’d be totally down with that. But I guess that wouldn’t placate enough certain extreme-thinking people that believe that the very fact of being a male is a crime that taints even the most virtuous characters.

    The Legend of Zelda needs a main game female Link just as much as Tomb Raider needs Larry Croft or Metroid needs Samuel Aran.

  • I really don’t get why people are complaining about the existence of Linkle. I’m a big Zelda fan, but it’s not like Link is even a good character. In fact, he really has no character. He’s a mute vessel for the player to experience the game. There’s no character development, and no personality. You could replace Link with the cardboard box from Metal Gear Solid and it wouldn’t make much difference. The Zelda franchise has been running for almost 30 years now; it’s a pretty bloody good time to freshen up the franchise.

  • Honestly Kotaku, linking to silly articles by sad attention seeking girls does nothing but get them more views.

    Don’t link them, they won’t get income, and they will go away and maybe get a real job.

  • Better idea – do a Zelda game, where that reality’s Link fails. Zelda is now the main character, and has to do something other than sit on her arse like her other 8 reincarnations.

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