In an interview with IGN, Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes director Hiromasa Shikata said, in part:
“There’s this kingdom, an event happens, and the king needs heroes. So, he puts out a call for heroes to gather and one of those is this guy Link. He sees this audition, basically, ‘Heroes needed; apply here.’ And, that’s the start of his adventure.
The story calls for this sort of legend/prophecy where heroes will come together to help solve a problem. And in that, they are male characters. So, because the game is set with that as the story background, you cannot choose a gender; you are a male character.”
He went on to comment further, and of course, the onslaught of commentary about gender demographics and the demands made upon game developers by those engaged in ‘some social movement’ was unleashed. Vitriol and mockery bubbled over.
But here’s the thing - looking at the quote above, in and out of context, what stands out is that the story only allows, conceives, and supports the concept of 'hero’ as being solely male. That menfolk heeded the call, because heroes are, of course, menfolk.
It’s an outdated view, a lingering and deeply-rooted by-product of skewed societal norms, the patriarchal influence. And yet history, even with its posture of seeing women as some sort of 'weaker’ sex, has clearly shown that women have stepped up time and time again to face incredible challenges - and have met them with strength, resolve, and courage.
When it comes to heroes, to heroism itself, there is no restriction on gender, age, creed, or background. It’s the bias that claims otherwise - that puffed-up, long-held notion of exclusivity when it comes to something that is persona driven.
Heroism is an extension of the soul, not bound by the form the soul resides in.
So when that call to heroes is made, in lands familiar as well as fantastical, it is perfectly reasonable to expect to see women take up arms, raise their fists and voices alongside the men. Therefore it’s reasonable to create our own call for the stale stories of the status quo to change - to stretch out from their rigid and narrow templates, to entertain… no… to accept the truth that heroes exist in other forms, and that they should be recognized and celebrated.
And in our games, they should be playable.