November 30th, 2006

Who’s everyone’s favorite sexy blond?  Yes, it’s Link, the questionally gender-ambiguous star of this week’s “Playing Dirty” column at Joystiq, “Pretty Pretty Princess.”  Archetypal male, or effeminate in tights?  You be the judge.

Tags: Blog

19 Responses to ““Pretty Pretty Princess””

  1. MD² Says:


    Who's everyone's favorite sexy blond?

    Nicknamed “La blonde” by most french SNK hardcore players I’ve known.

    Hum, yes, well sorry, Link, of course…

  2. C. Grant Says:

    Here’s a link to Bonnie’s latest column over on Joystiq, and a link to the column’s archives.

  3. Bonnie Says:

    Thanks, Chris! Just edited one of those links in.

  4. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    Link takes his shirt off in Twilight Princess. It’s exciting.

  5. Jonah Falcon Says:

    I have no real problem with roleplaying as a female in a game — though I’ve never ever played one in an MMORPG. I’ve enjoyed games from Cate Archer’s, April Ryan’s and even Lara Croft’s perspective, and have also intentionally played female counterparts in games that allow it, such as Vampire: the Masquerade.

    Why? I’m into story, and I enjoy, or dread sometimes, seeing characters reaction to the female character. You get different choices and responses in the Knights of the Old Republic game, including different love interests (including potentially a lesbian one in KOTOR2), for example.

    Granted, I’m not virtually enforced into playing opposite sex characters — especially over-the-top, gay fetishized masculine characters such as Marcus Fenix, for example. I will say that protagonists in this industry are heavily skewed towards male, especially male masturbatory female characters (see: Unreal II for example A, and any given Dead or Alive game as example B).

    But hey, if they make another game starring Ellen Ripley…

  6. Ralph Says:

    Loved the piece that you wrote about Bonnie/Link. When I first fired up Zelda, I, too, thought about putting in my real name. After reading your piece, even though I’m male, I’m very glad I stuck with Link.

  7. Malky Says:

    My sister plays Twilight Princess with her own name, whereas I prefer to stick with Link. I often question why she’s so secure playing a male with a female name when I can’t stand to be addressed as myself.

    Of course, you can’t talk gender in the LoZ games without considering Sheik. Link’s girly, and Zelda’s a tomboy. I rather like that.

  8. Komrade Kayce Says:

    As a male gamer, I cant name my characters other names for different reasons. Yes, it looks weird, but not because a character (male or female) has a feminine name Ive given them if I do, but if I give them any name other than the default name, it feels… wrong somehow. Except in very special circumstances, I never rename any characters in any games anymore if they give me a ‘default’ name already filled in. Like I said, its hard to explain, but seeing any name other than what the creators came up with somehow doesnt feel right in a game.

    Of course, some people dont have this same problem that I do, so Ive seen entire FF7 games run with characters like ‘Bar Guy’ and ‘Spiky Bitch’. Thats cool and all. But I also find it easier to talk with people about a game you’re playing if you can say a name, and they immediately know who you’re talking about instead of five minutes of banter to have one of you go ‘ohhhhh, you renamed *bleh* to *bleh*, didnt you’.

    Not to mention its a pain in the ass to read any faq for any game if you’ve renamed all your characters.

  9. MD² Says:

    Thanks, Chris!

    Seconded. Couldn’t find the article earlier.

    There was a nice similar piece in an old issue of The Escapist, with a girl gamer and Dragon Quest 1, the way it was addresed only at boys…

    Never had a problem with names myself, my game avatar’s always been named Emeraude (or Saphir when space was laking), whatever the sex, but toying around with names just to spoil/transform the experience isn’t new (wasn’t it in Fallout 2 the game wouldn’t allow you to name your character “fuck” ?), the best exemples I’ve seen being may be some dadaist Mother 2 inputs.

    Ultimately, I’d love to have some more significant data on the avatar/player symbiosis. That’s the lacking your column reminds me most of .

  10. Dana Says:

    Heh, I enjoyed the article. I can relate, having put my own name in the place of Link’s. But in my case, I am a male, with a name typically considered female, giving another male my “female” name. But it doesn’t really make me uncomfortable. I enjoy seeing an avatar of myself going around doing heroic deeds, and no one bats an eye at the name Dana. We’re I so fortunate in real life to have never been given grief over my “female” name.

  11. Comtar Says:

    Just about naming characters, I have an easy time renaming characters I don’t “know”. Like the first time I played FF7, I wasn’t someone who read up on everything. I didn’t know these people. But like if FF7 were remade or had a real RPG sequel, I wouldn’t rename them cause I know who they are.

    I know Link, I know who he is, and I couldn’t change his name at all.

    I’m keeping it brief, but I hope you know what I mean by this.

  12. Mischa Says:

    I think… I think I love you.

    In other words, awesome post.

  13. Mischa Says:

    (What the crap?? It deleted like half my post… Curse you internets!! Here’s the other half [or 2/3, I’m no good at math])

    Anyways, I find it interesting the different responses you get when you role play as a female online, versus role playing as a male. My ex-girlfriend used to run an online RPG and had some “secret characters” that she would play around with. Everyone had a hard time respecting the female admin’s authority, but whenever (s)he would say something, they’d all fall in line. They were also mostly teen-pre teen in age, so I’m sure that had something to do with it.

    Sociology rocks.

  14. Kyle Says:

    I just have to comment on this. My moms name is also Bonnie and when I used to play previous zelda games with her she always put her name as Bonnie. It always bothered me but for some reason it never really bothered my mom. Maybe I’ll ask her sometime.

  15. Bonnie Says:

    I know Link, I know who he is, and I couldn't change his name at all.
    For me at least, that’s definitely part of the problem. He’s Link, you know? I just makes everything feel that much more wrong ;).

  16. narF Says:

    Miyamoto imself did said ::

    “But I didn’t really overturn anything. To me, "overturning" would mean coming out with something like: "Actually, Link was a woman all along!" -Miyamoto”

    Comes from those “Iwata Ask” interviews on

    If Miyamoto says Link is a boy, that’s enough for me.

  17. Adam Says:

    I remember in the mid-80s I had assumed Link was Zelda. It wasn’t until that awkward side-scrolling sequel that I learned his name was Link. (I was about three when the Legend of Zelda first came out.)

    And why not? Now that I think on it, this might be the first example of me being comfortable with effeminate men. In high school, I was a dead-ringer for young link, since I had a baby face and I’ve used his haircut since the 80s (when he had that annoying poof of hair combed to the right? Yeah I copied that too.) and I had the young Link’s baby face. Still do, at the age of 23 but I won’t turn this into a rant.

    Link’s a pretty boy. No doubts from me. And in fact, he’s one of the only “Princes” to Zelda’s Princess that isn’t a truly masculine and chivalric armored figure. Sure, he’s a hero, but he’s no Lancelot.

    One of my best friends in college was a cross-dresser. TESC is a very liberal college, so he wasn’t shunned as much as he might have been elsewhere, but the important part is, it wasn’t the most relative thing about him. He was kind, approachable and had a great sense of humor.

    What’s wrong with a boy in a tunic and tights? Historically nothing, and currently? Nothing. Bring em on, I don’t want a cookie-cutter broody anti-hero all the time.

  18. Sealink Says:

    Firstly, who is the very PERFECT Link cosplay on that article? He’s very…good.

    Secondly, I wouldn’t necessarily call Link effeminate; his mode of dress is at first glance kind of ‘fae’, but on rethinking it, it becomes clear that tights and a tunic might simply be a freer-moving solution whilst saving the kingdom. (Although Ocarina!Link would like to point out that without support, you have to continually readjust things.)

    He also deals with traditionally male images and roles, such as the sword, masculine in its shape and violent purpose, or (in his latest incarnation,) the beast, that part of human nature which can only be fully acknowledged in the twilight. As far as never ‘getting the girl’, might I remind you of a certain someone named Galahad, whose quest for the Holy Grail mirrors Link’s perpetual pursuit of those sacred triangles?

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