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Link will never be female in The Legend of Zelda, says Miyamoto

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Link will always be the hero of The Legend of Zelda 2

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was my personal (and hey look, our eventual winner of) Best of Show at E3, and for good reason. It’s taking an already engrossing formula and cleverly iterating on it, with a gorgeously massive open-world, new gameplay mechanics and more. One thing the long-awaited sequel isn’t changing, however, is its titular hero Link – and that’s never going to happen according to Nintendo poster developer, Shigeru Miyamoto.

During E3 it was revealed that Nintendo toyed around with the idea of Princess Zelda (yes, the naming character in the series for the Nintendo uninitiated) being the hero in Breath of the Wild. The idea was ultimately shot down by Miyamoto, along with any suggestions that Link could feature as a female for the first time. We know that neither are happening, and in an interview Miyamoto suggested that it will never change for the mainline releases in the series.

Speaking with Gamekult (and transcribed and translated by Nintendo Everything), Miyamoto confirmed that an experimentation with its lead Link would be relegated to possible spin-offs.

“We clearly talked with the team to make a game centered about Sheik, so I cannot say it is impossible to see something of the sort in the future, but in the classic games in the series, Link is the hero and that will not change. For the rest, you have to be patient and see what happens!”

This sentiment of course echoes that of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma, who at E3 suggested that there would be no point for a Zelda adventure if Zelda herself wasn’t the one in danger.

“…if we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do?. Taking into account that, and also the idea of the balance of the Triforce, we thought it best to come back to this [original] makeup.”

It’s all a bit silly for a franchise that doesn’t even take continuity to heart really, and yet seems to have such a strong grasp on what it would mean to trade up Link for a different character after a decade or two. There’s no real reason why Zelda has to be the hero eventually, or why Link couldn’t be something other than a boy in green robes. But the reasons Nintendo keep spewing out aren’t exactly good reasons as to why it can’t happen either.

 

Last Updated: June 27, 2016

28 Comments

  1. How’s about it is their character and story, and they can do with it as they please?

    Reply

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      June 27, 2016 at 09:21

      Well that is exactly what they are doing so 😛

      Reply

  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    June 27, 2016 at 08:28

  3. Skittle

    June 27, 2016 at 08:45

    Why fix what isn’t broken?

    Reply

  4. Orwell

    June 27, 2016 at 09:35

    Firstly, I want to apologise if this seems hostile. Your last comment however destroyed the tone of neutrality in your piece. “Spewing” really?.

    You’re not entitled to a good reason from them, regardless of what you think.

    You’re more than welcome to voice your opinion as countless of our generation do on a daily basis on matters of equality, within all walks of life, but like most of them you make the same mistake.

    By even suggesting the idea that you deserve a good reason for why the male character is a male. For why link is a boy and not a girl. Or why ‘it’ can’t be a girl.

    It’s not your story to tell, it’s none of ours, except those who’ve worked tear and bone to bring it to life. To insinuate your opinion or entitlement to what an artist should or shouldn’t do is a very dangerous kind of arrogance, one all to many of our generation constantly throws at comedians, writers, singers, painters and story tellers.

    Stand in the gallery and muse, cry, shout, vent. Your opinion is of value as an interpretation of what you see. It is not however a means for anyone to side seat paint someone else’s canvas with stupid ideas of making things suit the political landscape for brownie points so you can win your feminist noddy badge.

    If that doesn’t appeal to you, pick up a paint brush, or a pencil and create your own. Don’t suffer under an ideology that serves to censor an artists right to say what he wants to say in the manner he wants to say it. Regardless of how trivial it might be, like a characters sexuality, race, social status etc.

    Broaden your horizons, art can be insulting and indifferent. Zelda is a very poor subject to have this debate over, but I defend Miyamoto-san and Tezuka-kuns right to tell the story they want to tell without a pseudo ideological (I hesitate to call it liberal) opinion affecting the characters they created. Id defend it even if it was a narrative that was greatly irreverent or illogical

    Next thing you know, someones gonna have a brain fart and ask why isn’t Peter Pan about a girl?. Make Lara croft a male! Etc etc…

    It’s absurd.

    Reply

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      June 27, 2016 at 10:02

      Respect your reply, and thank you for taking the time. Although I think you’re missing a few points 🙂

      Nintendo can (and are currently) doing what they like with this franchise, and like I said I am SUPER excited for Breath of the Wild. It doesn’t mean I can find some fault with some of the logic they’re using to explain their reasoning behind not giving players the choice (at the very least) to choose a gender for link.

      The reason this is confusing is because Link as a character is completely hollow. He’s a shell more than anything, to the point where his name is even completely dependent on what you choose. Link is just the “default” Nintendo goes to, but it really has no bearing on who he is, or what he does. Hell even all the Links in all the games are often not the same person. Why can’t they inherently be different then?

      Even so, why can’t the idea of Link be anyone? Why can’t players be given the choice to not only select a name, but also a gender for their hero? The only reason I can come up with is this need for The Legend of Zelda to hold onto this helpless Princess in need trope (although that in itself is a high level view of it, since Zelda herself has done some amazing things in some games).

      That’s why these reasons don’t really make much sense, since Link isn’t really like other poster characters. There’s no strong reason yet why there can’t be a choice.

      Reply

      • Darren Peach

        June 27, 2016 at 10:50

        Is this really worth investing so much time into ? This pseudo SJW stuff does nothing but ruffle feathers. I understand the need for the debate in general and I most definitely don’t begrudge a more inclusive means of playing as someone you identity with. But, Are you not Hi-Jacking this franchise to suit your own agenda ? Is it not prudent to be objective as a journalist ? People may feel more at ease if they weren’t preached to.

        Reply

        • Alessandro Barbosa

          June 27, 2016 at 11:15

          I think it’s important in my role as a journalist to represent the views of both sides of the arguement, which I feel I did in my response. And both sides means addressing the very same questions so many are asking not only of this franchise, but of the industry as a whole when it comes to representation.

          Just because you might not relate or agree with it, doesn’t mean it has no merit in being debated or discussed 🙂

          Reply

          • Darren Peach

            June 27, 2016 at 11:42

            Ok. Good for you then. My point is more to do with escaping reality and just having fun. I noticed this topic become a huge issue a few years ago and there was a measure of irrational hate levelled at gamers that came out of nowhere. The thing that bothers me is the automatic assumption that there is a resistance to change when in reality gaming has always been about indulging in unadulterated fun and gender issues were not necessarily something that I thought or even cared about.

            When you spend two decades killing zombies, demons and terrorists and then pop down to France to race in the Le Mans 24 hour in the race car of your choice only to finish and go take part in the Normandy invasion back in 44….. This debate and residual hate on both sides seems incredibly unnecessary and dumb. Now that it has become so invasive, many will feel that it is forced as opposed as to a natural evoloution.

            I guess I could also acknowledge that change comes about when people demand it.

          • LinkWH

            June 27, 2016 at 18:17

            OK, just want to chime in with my two cents here.

            As a sincere response from another gamer, I wholeheartedly agree that games should be a fantastic medium for escapism. So what does it say when, even in a video game, you can mostly only save the world as a white male? How is that escape from reality?

            Now before anyone gets too upset, I wholeheartedly agree that established characters should be subject only to the artistic vision of their creators. Miyamoto says Link will never be female. End of story (but not end of discussion… ;-). That can be tough (anyone else still heartbroken about what George Lucas did to destroy the Bad A$$edness of Vader with episodes 1, 2, and 3?), but if you don’t like it, that’s what fanfic is for (among other things…).

            Also, things are changing in gaming, which is a Good thing! We’re getting more and more variety in protagonists. (My 4 year old was overjoyed that the default driver in Drive Club is female, and I nearly reared up learning that Watch Dogs 2, Mafia III, and (maybe) Battlefield 1 have Black protagonists. Maybe I’m a little overdramatic, but it sure felt good to have my favorite pastime basically say, “Hey, it’s okay. Being black is just as normal as being white, not every story needs to give you an excuse for being that way.” Personally, I’ve had enough of the “trying to make it out of the ‘hood” trope. Thanks to the occasional game that lets me escape that particular reality.

            So when women want the same, I’m ashamed when I have resisted. I remember my wife playing the Tomb Raider reboot, and stupidly commented that Ubisoft should have considered how much more realistic it would have been to have the in-game-goons respond to Lara like she was one of the few women on the island, and not like she was Rambo. My wife responded that she wouldn’t want to play that game, as she needs no reminders that sexual assault and gender bias exist in the real world. Why would she want it brought into her fantasy world?

            That’s all I have to say overall: don’t think of a call for diversity as an attack. Maybe we should think of it as a request. Something like, “Hey, could someone like me wear that green tunic and save Hyrule?” For now, the answer is, “Unless you’re a Blonde Haired, Blue Eyed Elf Boy, then ‘No.'” That’s still an okay answer, but let’s not look down on others for asking.

          • Darren Peach

            June 28, 2016 at 00:52

            If you read all my posts, You would see that I have no problem with the change. What I do have a problem with is the fun was ruined through people forcing there agenda or mandate into every facet of something I have done and enjoyed since the age of 8. Now, I may be naive in thinking that gaming as a medium is fairly benign but I am also aware that it is a very easy target for….. SJWs, Jesus Freaks, Gun Control lobbyist for and against, Lawyers looking to make a buck, Psychologists and Journalists that want to be liked so go with the flow ( Not referring to the writer of this article ).

            I used to look up videos of FOX news on Youtube to get a kick out of the antics of the right wing zealots. What didn’t occur to me at the time was the left wing was no better , Although I lean more left than right. Now, there are issues that I am ignorant of , Having a daughter for example. So I now do understand a father or mother wanting their kids to feel included and I believe it is the right thing for us. But does that mean that every single game that is released needs to cater to this thinking ?

            There is also a measure of unfair assumptions made by those who find flaw in what Is a reasonable retort or counter argument to this current uncompromising damnation of games that come out and have a stereotypical character. I have no Idea why I feel the need to object to some of these articles . But it is gut instinct for me to try and counter to balance the point, and that can’t be wrong.

            It’s ten to 1 in the morning and I am sitting here and typing a irrelevant response to a complete stranger defending a honest view on gaming. And at the end of the day, the SJW crap being regurgitated over and over again may have something to do with that. Strangely enough, What most SJWs don’t realise is that some of us don’t give a crap if we play as a male, Female, Black, Asian or Demon…. As long as it’s fun.

          • Darren Peach

            June 27, 2016 at 11:52

            One final point. Look at Brexit, there was the conservative side that wanted to leave, judging by what I have been reading, they accomplished their goals through less than honest fearmongering. Much like what Trump is doing in the states. The power you posses as a Journalist should not be taken lightly for there are weak minded puppets out there that don’t think for themselves.

          • Darren Peach

            June 27, 2016 at 12:00

            And Jabba knows it……..

          • cdo12

            June 27, 2016 at 15:01

            If you were really concerned about women and their empowerment, you would fight for real women who are beaten, raped, killed, oppressed, mutilated, burned and all other sorts of vile things every day. Not try to emasculate a 30 year old video game character. It accomplishes nothing productive.

      • Orwell

        June 27, 2016 at 13:05

        Thanks for clarifying man, the reply clears it up and makes the tone seem less ‘SJW’ and more open. the whole point of games or art, is to spark discussion. I’d like to address both posts, and again no hostility intended.

        Representation:

        Why is it that people feel the need for affirmation by the characters they play?, also why is it the artists ‘duty’ to give the audience the tools for this self affirmation?. Link, as hollow as he might be is a creation of Miyamoto-san; We’re engaged in his story and journey wherever it may lead: Why does it need to be relative to the audience/player. We have other games for this, other genres in which we can create a person of our own tragedies and projections.

        You captured this so wonderfully here:

        “Link as a character is completely hollow. He’s a shell more than anything, to the point where his name is even completely dependent on what you choose.”

        Yes, It could have little impact to add a “Female” tick box in character creation, but why are we asking to change who Link is?. Should Miyamoto even consider the option, I think not. He’s welcome to, heck he can even change it if he wants. Though I’d hope it’s because he’d like to take the journey in a different direction rather than bending to what is being dictated by those with less talent and an inflated sense of that ‘representation’ you mentioned.

        I understand I’m moving further from the topic and dangerously close to it having an existential crises, so I’ll close this part up simply with this: A character within a game does not need to be a projection of ourselves, and we are not entitled to being represented as who we see ourselves as. Unless we paint the picture ourselves.

        Asking for a gender/sexuality/race in any game, (as you touched upon how broad this very subject expands) is not a paintbrush. It’s an excuse for people to ‘feel’ represented, rather than making an actual effort to make something meaningful of being heard.

        Reply

        • Dave

          June 27, 2016 at 16:00

          Well said! I share the opinion that the artist decides, not the audience. If someone doesn’t like playing a male Link, then they can simply choose to not play. Period. It all comes down to freedom of speech and expression. If feminists want a female character, then they can make a game and make them all females for all I care. But there’s no room to force an agenda on someone else’s work.

          Reply

          • Alessandro Barbosa

            June 27, 2016 at 16:53

            “If someone doesn’t like playing a male Link, then they can simply choose to not play. ”

            That’s a dangerously elitist way to look at exclusivity. I would think that most game designers love the idea of more people feeling invited to play their game rather than less. The idea of “well, if you don’t feel represented then don’t play games” is very narrow minded in my opinion.

          • Pariah

            June 27, 2016 at 17:04

            By that tone you’re saying that I – as a man – have every right to demand that Lara Croft is a male. Because… reasons? That makes no sense. No Link has been a male for decades. The ONLY reason to change that now is to pander to political pressure. I don’t agree with that – and I think keeping him as a male is the right choice. No matter what the current SJW debate is – Link doesn’t make sense as a gender-swoppable character.

            And I don’t think it’s elitist at all. It’s a simple fact – gaming is an opt-in hobby. If you don’t like something, NOTHING forces you to play or endure it. Unless you’re writing a review, but then it’s your job and no longer a hobby. So he’s 100% right. If you don’t like it, don’t play it. Find something you do like, and play that instead. It’s really simple. There is so much diversity out there, so much choice, that trying to force it on a character where it doesn’t make sense – makes no sense. It’s just forcing your ideas somewhere where they don’t really have a place. Rather, focus on the areas where it matters more. Focus on RPGs and MMOs and how women are shown in those games (seriously, steel-plated bikinis are not armour).

            That’s just my thoughts on this. I like my Lara Croft female, my Geralt male (GOTY right?), and my Link male. Don’t try force the change where it doesn’t make sense.

          • Dave

            June 27, 2016 at 17:19

            You may think I’m narrow minded, that’s perfectly fine. Essentially, this all comes down to a personal choice. Would you prevent yourself from playing a game because the character you play doesn’t “represent” you? I personally wouldn’t. If someone is so upset about it, then of course they could decide to not play. The burden is on them, not the artist.

            Do you think that artists who paint or draw care about the opinions of people who don’t like their art? Of course not. Why would they? They create what they want, the way they want. Who am I to tell them how to express themselves? There’s lots of art that I don’t like, so I don’t take the time to look at it.

            There’s this mentality that games should please everyone in every aspect. This is false, and I’m certain that you know that. You have to ask yourself, who are the people complaining? Actual fans of the franchise, or people who don’t know who Zelda or Link is. If they’re fans of the franchise, then they certainly had no problems playing all of the other games. If they’re not fans, then what’s it going to change for them anyways? The agenda is what motivates these people.

            There are games who allow you to customize your character, and there are games that don’t allow you to customize your character. If someone doesn’t want to play a game in which they can’t customize their character, that’s their personal choice.

            Is that really closed minded?

          • Darren Peach

            June 28, 2016 at 01:20

            I just want to pipe in and say, I am a artist and I choose what feels right for me. When I create a piece of work for myself, The last thing on my mind is what the popular consensus will be. Leave art out of this.

        • Alessandro Barbosa

          June 27, 2016 at 16:51

          “A character within a game does not need to be a projection of ourselves, and we are not entitled to being represented as who we see ourselves as.”

          This is true, but also indicative of a mindset that suggests the status quo can’t (and shouldn’t) be changed, critiqued or criticized. I think The Legend of Zelda is a perfect example of a game where choice is so blatantly missing, given that Link as hollow as he often is would seemingly suffer little by having the option to be either male or female.

          I think in that case it could greatly enhance the experience for the player given their own choice, as seen in so many other role-playing games. The only reason I can think of Nintendo no wanting to implement this choice is to preserve the idea of Link, as a male, being the hero that ultimately saves the helpless Zelda (or whatever female they choose for each individual adventure, given that so many different Links exist).

          It’s just strange, and it would be refreshing to see them evolve past that is all 🙂

          Reply

    • JacoZAB

      June 27, 2016 at 10:03

      You read my mind, Legend of Zelda will always focus on Link as the hero. If they wanted a female hero they would have created a new character and an entirely new world. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it

      Reply

    • Darren Peach

      June 27, 2016 at 10:52

      Kudos to sir.

      Reply

  5. The Order of the Banana

    June 27, 2016 at 11:46

    Good! Don’t pander to the neck and legbeards Miyamoto. Most of those SJW scum don’t even play games they just whine and bitch because they’re social marxists (and thus will never contribute anything to society).

    Reply

  6. Vulcha

    June 27, 2016 at 14:10

    That’s like playing Tomb Raider and wanting Lara Croft to be Larry Croft.

    Reply

  7. RustedFaith

    June 27, 2016 at 16:27

    Replacing Link in Zelda with a female will make as much sense as making a Tomb Raider with a male “Lara Croft”.

    Reply

  8. Jarin

    June 27, 2016 at 18:02

    Kinda late to the party here. I was thinking there’d been some new news in the last week or something. Miyamoto still full of shit, nothing changing. Support or don’t support as you wish.

    Reply

  9. Kushagra Yadav

    January 10, 2019 at 12:40

    Thank the gods.

    Reply

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