Volume 15(3), 2019-11, 367—389

(Re-)Balancing the Triforce: Gender representation and androgynous masculinity in the Legend of Zelda series

Sarah M. Stang
York University

The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most beloved and acclaimed Japanese video game franchises in the world. The series’ protagonist is an androgynous male character, though recent conversations between Nintendo and players have focused on gender representation in the newest title in the series, Breath of the Wild. Considering these discussions, this article provides an analysis of Link, the protagonist and player character of The Legend of Zelda series. This analysis includes a discussion of the character’s androgynous design, its historical context, official Nintendo paratextual material, developer interviews, and commentary from fans and critics of the series. As an iconic androgynous character in an incredibly successful and popular video game series, Link is an important case study for gender-based game scholarship, and the controversies surrounding his design highlight a cultural moment in which gender representation in the series became a central topic of discussion among players and developers.

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