Hacking into equality

When East York resident Mike Hoye’s three-year-old daughter Maya started paying attention to the words on the screen of her favourite video game Zelda, things took a turn for the interesting.

During the game, the text that runs across the screen recounts the tale of Link, a boy character who must set out to save Princess Zelda from the bad guys. The problem is that Hoye’s daughter Maya loves playing the character Link and sees herself as the heroine.

Her father’s solution was simple. He hacked the game-changing code so the screen would read that Link is a little girl who must save her brother.

Now the world of gaming is a mystery to some, and religion to others, but to the father and daughter pair it became a lesson in parenting. Teaching your daughter that she is just as much of a hero as any boy — especially as young as she is — can only result in her feeling more positive about herself.

While some may argue that hacking a game that has been around for years is not the way to teach your daughter a lesson, the benefits outweigh the arguments.

On Hoye’s weblog, he posted instructions on how to hack the game for others to turn Link from a boy to a girl and the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Many suggested games they thought Maya could play next.

If you do a quick Google search of  “female video game characters,” you get a lot of women that seem to have been drawn by 15-year-old boys. They’re usually not wearing much clothing and, like Zelda, are damsels waiting to be rescued.

There are, of course, exceptions, and gamers with more in-depth knowledge of the game world may have better examples on the progress that has been made in terms of the female characters. But if a dad has to hack a game so his daughter can be a hero, there still seems to be a ways to go.