Now, I’ll be honest with you: when I first started playing The Legend of Zelda as a kid, I thought that Link was just like me, that is to say, a blonde-headed little girl. As I got older I learned the truth, but often I chose to ignore it.
Link is, after all, a cipher, a tabula rasa onto whom players project their own personalities. A lot of silent protagonists are like that, from Master Chief to Jack in BioShock: by minimizing characterization, the hope is that the player will end up identifying more with the character.
Link is more androgynous than ever in the recent trailer Nintendo showed off at E3 for Zelda Wii U. This has led many to speculate that this Link might actually be female. Which is exactly what Nintendo wanted.
According to series producer Eiji Aonuma:
That might be something that consciously we kind of did, but not to say anything specific—I am not saying anything specific—but, I am hoping people continue to comment, and I will continue to follow the fan comments and reactions to the trailer. I am certainly curious, and I am sure there are things we as developers can glean.
For one, that at least 50% of Zelda fans would actually cherish the opportunity to play as a female character. Which means one thing: if we’d like the chance to play as a female character in a Zelda game, we have to tell Nintendo this.
Personally, I’d settle for an androgynous Link whose gender the player has the freedom to determine. But playable female characters are something Nintendo has been working on of late, so having a female Link would potentially be a huge step in the right direction. Aonuma continues:
I don’t want people to get hung up on the way Link looks because ultimately Link represents the player in the game. I don’t want to define him so much that it becomes limiting to the players. I want players to focus on other parts of the trailer and not specifically on the character because the character Link represents, again, the player.
If Link is, indeed, a cipher, an avatar for whomever is playing, it makes sense that there should be the option for Link to be a lady. Aonuma certainly seems open to the idea.
And while it might be too late in the development process to get a playable female character in Zelda Wii U (since it’s apparently too late to get one in Assassin’s Creed: Unity), now is the time to let Nintendo know, in no uncertain terms, that we’d like the option of playing Zelda as a female character.