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Dad's favorite pastime shouldn't treat girls like second-class citizens
November 8, 2012 11:29 AM   Subscribe

"Why did small business owner and gamer dad Mike Hoye spend the last few weeks hand-tweaking the text in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker so that the main character was referred to as a girl instead of a boy? As he put it, 'I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero.'"
posted by hot soup (67 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

 
Both my inner nerd and the part of me that desperately hopes I'll be a good father are in awe of this guy.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:33 AM on November 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


That's pretty cool, and works really well for WindWaker, I think. Also WW is still the best of the 3D Zelda games
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:37 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The title is kinda problematic low-hanging fruit punnery, but the actual article is amazing. What creativity and hard work on the part of the father!
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:39 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Best.
posted by odinsdream at 11:39 AM on November 8, 2012


This is the greatest and my day is better because I know about it.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:39 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I tried to be a great dad......
posted by Mojojojo at 11:41 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is awesome, but it does seem like a lot of work for something he was already doing on the fly anyway (she's three, so he's been reading the text to her and switching pronouns).

But a labour of love doesn't really need to make perfect sense. This is a technical challenge and required quite a bit of creativity to make it work properly, since a simple find-and-replace wouldn't keep the string lengths consistent. Hats off to a great dad.
posted by figurant at 11:43 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I say this as a life long gamer:
Good for her, for now, but if she starts to pin her hopes and dreams on this, she's going to get murdered when she graduates to online console gaming. Girl gamers are essentially a work of fiction. I hope her parents get her out of that situation before she gets horribly disappointed/griefed/sexually harassed.


But seriously, that's some good parenting right there.
posted by R. Schlock at 11:44 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This would be Metafilter's Own mhoye, one notes.
posted by mightygodking at 11:47 AM on November 8, 2012 [32 favorites]


A friend runs a D&D campaign for his daughter and friends. He is trying hard to not only kick gender stereotypes in the face but making gaming in general more friendly to women. It may seem like a niche problem, but I am so damn happy good dads like this are doing their part.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:49 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Super cool. Not, as figurant noted, strictly necessary, but a really nice gesture. Well done, mhoye!
posted by that's candlepin at 11:49 AM on November 8, 2012


... why not just introduce her to Metroid?
posted by Archelaus at 12:00 PM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't get it. Is Metroid Prime not appropriate for a three year-old?
posted by The Bellman at 12:00 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jinx!
posted by The Bellman at 12:00 PM on November 8, 2012


In this day ian age why is it still neccessary to patch a dump of the data for something like this. The fact that you need to use the exact same number of bytes is a serious limitation.You would think Dolphin would have hooks for alternate subtitles for stuff like fan made translations.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:02 PM on November 8, 2012


Just have her create a female avatar in Demon's Souls.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:03 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi, Metafilter. Thanks for the kind words; I'd be glad to answer any questions about it anyone has.
posted by mhoye at 12:06 PM on November 8, 2012 [45 favorites]


I suspect that sexist (as well as racist and homophobic) griefing will be less of an issue when she is old enough to play Halo 14 online (if that is her thing). 343 Industries is banning players who are heinous (when they catch them at it) and I think that, eventually, being an asshole will be sufficiently and commonly stepped on so that people will give it up in order to keep their accounts or access.

The big players (microsoft, etc...) don't want to alienate a huge percentage of their future player base. If they have to ban a small percentage of players for the message to get across, they will. Also, although many in the gaming community are proving to be self-servingly tone-deaf and conscienceless when it comes to vile behavior, they're fighting a losing battle. There is no compelling reason to treat someone horribly. All the apologists can fall back on is to pretend that acting horribly isn't really acting horribly. Things like that are the desperate argument made by people who don't want to have to care. They'll give it up in the long run.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 12:08 PM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


It is odd that over the years we've had more than one Luigi game. We've had a Princess Peach game. But we've never had one goddamn game where Zelda has to save fucking Link.
posted by inturnaround at 12:09 PM on November 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


This makes me warm and fuzzy! It's amazing the difference when pronouns are changed. I misread Merry and Pippin as lady hobbits for years and was really sad when I realized my mistake.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I really like the growing trend to let we women gamers be women in games (or girls, in this case). I just wish more games would stand up and deliver, damnit!

As for the issues of sexual harrassment, women gamers now are taking great strides toward addressing it on multiple levels, from petitioning gaming companies to put in means of stopping bullying and harrassment, to addressing sexist behavior directly when it happens, to recording it and theorizing about it afterwards. With female gamers now almost at parity and becoming increasingly vocala bout how we want to see us in the damn games already, I have high hopes for the future.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:12 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


we've never had one goddamn game where Zelda has to save fucking Link.

This despite the fact that Zelda is like, five tiers above Link in Smash.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:13 PM on November 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


This has gotten me thinking. Nintendo should do a Zelda-esque game inspired by 'The Paper Bag Princess'.
posted by papercrane at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's also possible to be a gamer and not bother gaming with people you don't know. Hopefully online gaming won't be the same sort of cesspool it is for women right now in ten years, but even if it is, there are ways to be a gamer and avoid Xbox live.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:29 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


As sweet as a play as Zelda game would be.. I sort of fear that instead of the various link transformations she'd get the Sheik transformation. Look what puzzles you can solve by being a guy! >.<

I have hope though. And things do seem to be getting better. :)
posted by Feantari at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2012


Good for her, for now, but if she starts to pin her hopes and dreams on this, she's going to get murdered when she graduates to online console gaming.

I laughed out loud, at this idea that online console gaming is something you "graduate to".
posted by mhoye at 12:33 PM on November 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Well, *spoilers* Zelda does get to fight at the end of Wind Waker. And in her disguise as Tetra she's pretty badass. I bet a 2D Zelda game where you play as Tetra or a Tetra-like character could work well.

And on the subject of Metroid: when is another 2D Metroid game coming out?

And as for avoiding online gaming: many new games don't have split-screen multiplayer, because it's too taxing for the console to have to render everything twice. So even to play with friends you have to go online, although you can avoid random strangers if you work at it.
posted by vogon_poet at 12:33 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why bother with the rewrite? Just toss her a copy of Final Fantasy VI. Terra is a badass. And it's a game where the bad guy actually succeeds. And it's in steampunk. And there's an opera. And...
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:33 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Probably best to skip the Ars Technica comments. Or at least some of them. Proof positive, I guess, that the blinders of privilege are alive and well.

Don't even want to think about Reddit. /shudder
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2012


Seriously... I occasionally play KZ3 online on my PS3 with the mic muted for all players, but in general it's a cesspool best avoided by everyone, not just girls.

(also worth mentioning, Okami is a Zelda like game where the protagonist is female. Well, a female wolf/sun goddess, but anyway...)
posted by selfnoise at 12:36 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Way to go, mhoye!

Yeah, my kid loved Okami & still talks about it years later. And I picked the female characters for Pokemon and the old Baldur's Gate and Oblivion, but it's hard not to notice that I'm not the targeted demographic for gaming companies.
posted by dragonplayer at 12:39 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have nothing to add right now except that I think this is great and reading about it made me happy.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:13 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this is so awesome I'm going to skip my lame joke about saving time by just playing Bloodrayne with her. (Just as everyone should skip Bloodrayne, since it's terrible.)

Windwaker is amazing, though. That actually reminds me; I should introduce that WW to my wife who is an increasingly eager gamer.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 1:25 PM on November 8, 2012


Good job.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:26 PM on November 8, 2012


What, is Bayonette not suita—

Oh right completely deserved M rating
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:26 PM on November 8, 2012


Speaking of Okami, as someone who is currently playing through the HD remake on PS3, we really need an HD remake of Wind Waker. Gamecube s-video cables are ridiculously expensive these days and while I'd love to replay it, Cube games look just awful on my LCD.
posted by selfnoise at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a lovely idea. This is good and you should feel good, mhoye.
posted by jess at 1:38 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't even want to think about Reddit. /shudder

It hasn't made it to /r/gaming, they are too busy talking about Pokemon and posting pics of their collections for this to register there.

It did make it to/r/girlgamers. They are worried it changes the narrative too much.

It also made it to/r/TwoXChromosomes where they seem to be in favor.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:44 PM on November 8, 2012


There's still a lot of kids who've never played the series who think you play as "Zelda," just from the title. But yes, the series can be seen as working its way towards a gender inversion for some time. Wind Waker ends with Link and her fighting Ganon together (BTW, unquestionably the greatest final battle and ending sequence in the whole series). I hear that Spirit Tracks has Zelda playing a greater role in the story, although still mostly as helper.

We've had a Princess Peach game.

It's a shame that game was kind of so-so.
posted by JHarris at 2:19 PM on November 8, 2012


inturnaround: "But we've never had one goddamn game where Zelda has to save fucking Link."

While gamers try to put this fact out of their minds, your statement is not quite accurate.
posted by pwnguin at 2:29 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I quite liked Super Princess Peach. Not amazing, but definitely fun. I'm a bit mixed on the emo-power mechanic, though.
posted by asperity at 2:30 PM on November 8, 2012


I think this is great. I love it.

All of my daughter's stuffed animals are girls. (Uh...except Winnie the Pooh.) And I change the lyrics of nursery songs that mention he/his/boy etc. to girl themes. I found that if a character on a screen or in a book or the stuffed animal didn't explicitly present as "girl" with, I don't know, a skirt or bow or some crap, that I defaulted to "boy" which is ridiculous. I really don't want her to think the default is boy. She should start out as her own hero and sister to all sorts of wonderful characters. I also purposefully mis-identify characters who, it could be argued, are ambiguous. Why can't the cartoon yak in the ruffled blouse be a boy? The cat in lederhosen could definitely be a girl.

It's a good exercise for me and I think it's good for her, too.
posted by amanda at 2:52 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of the comments on that article are depressing. Others are just stupid. For example:

Maybe instead of doing something so superficial he should have taken up teaching her some programming or at least how to use a code editor so she could have edited all the male pronouns into female pronouns herself if he really wanted to empower her.

Did this person miss the part where it says the guy's daughter is too young to read? I think it'd be a bit hard to teach a preschooler how to code.

Thankfully, comments like this seem to be in the minority.
posted by asnider at 3:00 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heh, asnider, why doesn't that poster say something like, "Geeze, instead of wasting time like this, he should just train his daughter to overthrow the patriarchy."
posted by Malor at 3:08 PM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't think it was released in the US, but there was a GameCube tie-in for Wind Waker called Tetra's Trackers. It was kind of like Four Swords as a collect'em up where Tetra assigned you items to get.

So I figure the Legend of Actually Playing As Zelda game should put the player in Tetra's position there. It'd play like Majesty.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:50 PM on November 8, 2012


in her disguise as Tetra she's pretty badass.

And as soon as she discovers her heritage and mythical destiny, she becomes lily white and loses all agency.

This is my baffled face.

(Confession: never did beat Wind Waker. Link to the Past forever!)
posted by lumensimus at 4:24 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


... why not just introduce her to Metroid?

or you know offer more than like 1 option for female protagonists if you have the option it's cool your choice there probably aren't enough male roles already anyway
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 4:56 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Geeze, instead of wasting time like this, he should just train his daughter to overthrow the patriarchy."

I'm working on it.
posted by mhoye at 4:58 PM on November 8, 2012 [30 favorites]


Okami is such a wonderful game. While my husband likes adventure games, I'm not much of a gamer (and when I am I prefer Tetris, Bust-A-Move, Katamari Damacy etc). But I loved Okami -- played it for hours a night. (Though there is that one weird part where the 'helper' character goes all gaga over a side character's boobs, which I found a quite annoying.)
posted by statolith at 5:31 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


All of my daughter's stuffed animals are girls. (Uh...except Winnie the Pooh.) And I change the lyrics of nursery songs that mention he/his/boy etc. to girl themes.

I do this as well.
I got my local storytime to change "one fell off and bumped his head" to "her head" in monkey in the bed song though I'm not sure it stuck past when she outgrew that session.
Also make the habit of calling all the babies/stuffies/etc "her". To be honest, I forget a lot of the time, so now my daughter will say of her monkey, "He needs to put on her dress".
posted by madajb at 6:20 PM on November 8, 2012


FWIW, my 5 year old son loves playing Fighting is Magic, and anything MyLittlePony related, and has no problem with the protagonists being female. He knows MLP:FIM is 'for girls' but doesn't care.
posted by signal at 6:22 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kudos Hoye! I need to take the time to turn Minecraft Steve into a girl. My 4-year-old daughter and I play Minecraft together. Steve is supposed to be genderless but my daughter thinks Steve is a boy. Need to fix that.
posted by hot_monster at 6:45 PM on November 8, 2012


hot_monster, there's lots and lots of custom skins you can use for your Minecraft character, so you can make it look female-ish. Don't have to do it yourself.
posted by Malor at 7:06 PM on November 8, 2012


This is really awesome. The things dads do for their kids!

Slightly off-topic, I began playing hidden-object games a few years ago, and found it interesting that almost all the time, the protagonists are women or girls. Is it because HOGs are considered more "fluffy" or "feminine"?
posted by Alnedra at 8:06 PM on November 8, 2012


mhoye, you're awesome. That is all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:19 PM on November 8, 2012



or you know offer more than like 1 option for female protagonists if you have the option it's cool your choice there probably aren't enough male roles already anyway


Well, I could have offered Mass Effect, or indeed many other RPG type games that give the option to choose, but they seemed a bit out of reach for a 3 year old kid. Just sayin'.

As far as action type games, I wasn't going to suggest say, Tomb Raider for a kid that age, either. Metroid seemed like a good compromise.

I assure you that suggestion was very much not from a lack of other options, at least on my part.
posted by Archelaus at 9:26 PM on November 8, 2012


Alnedra:

Slightly off-topic, I began playing hidden-object games a few years ago, and found it interesting that almost all the time, the protagonists are women or girls. Is it because HOGs are considered more "fluffy" or "feminine"?"

Hmm, I noticed this too I thought they were just marketed to the female audience because the game developers thought HoGs are more aimed to casual game players. I admit, I never had to the patience to complete them.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 7:42 AM on November 9, 2012


Steve is supposed to be genderless but my daughter thinks Steve is a boy.

Well, that fact that he's named Steve probably doesn't help. Genderless, sure, but a unisex name might have helped. (I know that Steve is the popular name but, technically, Steve is just called The Player. Referring to The Player by a unisex and/or female name might help convince your daughter that Steve is not a boy.)
posted by asnider at 8:28 AM on November 9, 2012


Of course, I'm assuming that you're even referring to Steve by name when you play Minecraft with your daughter. Odds are pretty good that you're not doing this and that she's just assumed Steve is a boy based on appearance.
posted by asnider at 8:28 AM on November 9, 2012


we really need an HD remake of Wind Waker

Playing Wind Waker in the Dolphin emulator like this guy is doing basically is an HD remake. The Wind Waker art-style has aged incredibly well (unlike Twilight Princess), and looks gorgeous at 1920x1080 on a big monitor. (Dolphin even as a hack that converts the game to widescreen format.)
posted by straight at 10:21 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The big players (microsoft, etc...) don't want to alienate a huge percentage of their future player base. If they have to ban a small percentage of players for the message to get across, they will.

The big players are complicit in this. Xbox Live is a cesspool of sexism, homophobia and racism and you have to pay for the privilege. Sony loves its juvenile promotions using sex as part of its edgy appeal - in the past month they had an ad promoting Vita with a woman who has extra breasts in her back; there was an allusion to the back triggers of Vita. As for Nintendo fo lyfe, we can talk after Sakamoto apologises in public for destroying the independent character of Samus in Metroid: Other M. Kerrigan was similarly neutered in Starcraft 2 and Nattie had a brilliant comment a few years go about the experience of being outed as a woman in WoW. The big players have been alienating potential customers for a long, long time and they can't blame it squarely on a bunch of teenagers. I don't expect a 14-year-old to know what he's doing, but I expect the adult who provides the service to moderate it.
posted by ersatz at 2:12 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Wind Waker art-style has aged incredibly well (unlike Twilight Princess), and looks gorgeous at 1920x1080 on a big monitor.

I was making similar observations when it came out, although it was a bit like spitting into the wind. I really liked the cel shading, but the overall critical response was 'blech!', and trying to argue that it looked phenomenal was a steep uphill slog. By going with cel shading, I knew it would continue to look awesome forever, no matter what advancements happened in graphics technology. After the furor, Twilight Princess gave the fans exactly what they demanded. It looked like shit the day it shipped. Fun game, but the textures were terrible.

What I didn't foresee, though, was that cel shading would scale to any arbitrary resolution. I was just thinking in terms of style, not technology. I knew that Wind Waker would still be very visually appealing in ten or fifteen years, but it never even occurred to me that they'd be able to render to super high res from the same codebase. I thought it would still be rendering SD when we were all at 1600x1200 or higher, and we'd still admire how cool it looked, not that it would be able to keep up!

This thread inspired me to start running it via the Dolphin emulator. Dolphin has some problems with Wind Waker, the worst of which you can patch out with an Action Replay code, and the sound gets scratchy and garbled about once an hour, requiring a restart.

I had to reverse the camera controls in the emulator, because Wind Waker does them backwards, with no inversion option. So my spells are backwards, left-right, but that's better than the camera being backwards.

That's one area where they've made enormous improvements in more recent titles. WW has camera problems. Like, lots of camera problems. It shows how hard camera handling is, when a team this talented had that much trouble doing it well.
posted by Malor at 3:02 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


better than the camera being backwards

It's a little like the people who invert their mouse for FPS games. You can either imagine that moving the stick to the right pans the camera to look to the right, or you can imagine that moving the stick to the right makes the camera move around to Link's right, showing you what's on his left.
posted by straight at 3:14 PM on November 9, 2012


Sure, but that only works before you've hard-wired the reflexes into your thumbs. :)
posted by Malor at 3:26 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread inspired me to start running it via the Dolphin emulator. Dolphin has some problems with Wind Waker, the worst of which you can patch out with an Action Replay code, and the sound gets scratchy and garbled about once an hour, requiring a restart.

Dolphin doesn't seem to like multi-core processors too much. I can play Skyrim on my laptop, but WW lags quite a bit.
posted by ersatz at 6:34 AM on November 10, 2012


mhoye, that is fantastic. You rock.
posted by bardophile at 8:02 AM on November 10, 2012


So, out of curiosity, I tried moving the emulation of sound to its own thread, which is explicitly "not recommended" in the GUI. I was hoping it would help with the scratchy sounds after an hour-ish.

Not a good idea. The game hard locks instead. Lost a ton of time. Argh!

It did, I suppose, fix the crackling sound. But I don't much care for the replacement symptom.
posted by Malor at 5:46 AM on November 11, 2012


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