Petition Asks Nintendo To Make Zelda’s Link A Young, Black Girl; Gamers Lose Their Minds

Either someone on the internets is doing some Grade A trolling or they don’t know the potential hornets nest they’ve stirred up. Either way, there’s a new online petition calling for Nintendo to turn Link, the star of its Legend of Zelda series, into a young, black female. The gamernet reacted about how you’d expect.

The news came to us by way of Stevivor, and it looks on the verge of going viral. The request to alter the Legend of Zelda protagonist lays out its reasoning in clear, if misspelled terms. No, wait… The terms are not clear. They are misspelled, though:

For too many years have the black community been underrespresented in the video game industry. Nintendo went too far this time when they chose to make the new Link white and white only. We need to end this injustice, equality has sadly still not been truly achieved.

The petition’s author is listed as Anton Watabe, and searches of Watabe’s name have turned up nothing of note, so, again, this could be a good old fashioned trolling. That hasn’t stopped the beginnings of a freakout from simmering on the petition’s comment thread and other sites.

“Foor Traybon and his Skittles [sic],” wrote one of the more than 250 users who have signed the petition. So far, most of the signatures appear to be tongue-in-cheek, deriding the notion that Nintendo should change Link to a young, black girl. Some, though, appear genuinely miffed at the audacity of the petition.

“Oy vey,” writes another, “time for a health [sic] dose of politically correct cultural enrichment!”

Whether or not an ostensibly white Link – surrounded by equally ostensibly white Hyrulians in all of the Legend of Zelda entries – is an “injustice” is up for debate… if you can find someone willing to debate it with you… but the overall dearth of black characters in video games is undeniable. Those black characters that do appear tend to be, let’s say, indelicately handled.

Raising such an issue tends to raise the ire of many a gamer. Because internet and anonymity and How Dare You Suggest Changing Tradition? There are almost always the requisite appeals to market realities – “Most gamers are white males,” they’ll say. And, eventually, the spiteful accusations of “political correctness” – read: “Why do I have to hear about non-white people wanting things?” :

Signed by all the black Zelda fans and white fans who don’t want to be perceived as racist. Seriously, who gives a s**t. If changing Link’s race and gender will actually improve the gameplay, then I’m all for it. If it’s just to satisfy people who want diversity for diversity’s sake, F**K THEM.

– One commenter on Gamepur.

This most recent issue, though, has the potential to spark an entirely other kind of freakout, as it seeks to change Link, the main character of Legend of Zelda, a revered series. Nintendo may be on the ropes following the lackluster sales of the Wii U, but video from the newest Zelda may well have breathed life into the game company. Link and Zelda are two names that get gamers’ ears to perk up, even if only to chide Nintendo for not going “hardcore” and letting Link lop the heads off cyberdemons or whatever it is that one does in “grown-up games.”

Changing Link, then, is like changing the childhood of many a gamer. And changing Link to a black girl is even worse because… well… because she’d be… ahem… “different.”

Of course, this most recent dust-up over the true nature of fictional characters that only exist as computer-generated collections of polygons isn’t the only “controversy” brewing over the next Legend of Zelda game. Shortly after Nintendo showed off its impressive Zelda footage, speculation built over whether the Link shown in the footage was a boy or a girl.

Some celebrated the possibility of Nintendo subverting its longstanding “save the princess” trope. Others… well… you can guess where this is going:

Between the Zelda controversies and its surprisingly solid E3 showing, Nintendo looks ready to mount a comeback. Aside from increasingly disappointing quarterly results, Nintendo hasn’t been in the news this much in years.

And it still won’t matter. The likelihood of an online petition changing the look of Link, Zelda, or anyone in Hyrule is laughable. The game will see release, likely with a fair-skinned Link and a fairer-skinned Zelda, and the (totally not in the least bit racist) gamer commenters will cheer as they play on. Female gamers and gamers of color will play, too, and likely be wowed by Nintendo’s seemingly inexhaustible ability to reinvent itself and its games.

As those female gamers and gamers of colors play, though, they will know somewhere deeper down that they will have to continue to wait for the game where they don’t have to suspend their own disbelief just the slightest bit more than those that make up the “core gamer market.”

Everyone will be able to immerse themselves in Hyrule as seen through the eyes of a fair-skinned, blond Link, because that’s what we do with games. Of course, one could just as well say that people would be equally able to immerse themselves in a Zelda game were it to star a young, black female. That would be a laughable overreach for political correctness, though. Laughable.

Lead image via Indervilla.

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