Notch Says Gamers Shouldn’t Ask For Female Playable Characters: “It’s a Non-Issue” and “Censorship”
Notch has offered his thoughts on the debate surrounding whether or not Nintendo should have included a female playable character in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, branding it a “non-issue.”
The Minecraft developer replied to a comment on Reddit asking for his thoughts on “journalists and gamers who criticize gaming companies for not including playable female characters such as GTA V, Link, and Assassin’s Creed” with the commenter adding: “Do you feel like it would be a cool artistic direction, or do you feel like its a non issue?” Notch replied: “It’s an obvious non-issue, and people who claim this trend isn’t censorship are two faced liars.”
He continued: “There are things I agree with, however. Say you’re writing the rules for a game and you don’t know the gender of the player. Don’t assume male, that’s just weird. Some use he/she, but I personally am a huge fan of “they”.”
Prior to the big unveiling of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at E3 2016, many had speculated that Nintendo would include a playable female version of Link in the game, similar to the introduction of Linkle in the spin-off game Hyrule Warriors. However, after learning that was not the case, many were displeased with Nintendo’s reasoning behind the decision.
In an interview with GameSpot, Nintendo producer Eiji Aonuma spoke about the lack of a female playable character in the upcoming Wii U and NX game, saying: “We thought about it and decided that if we’re going to have a female protagonist it’s simpler to have Princess Zelda as the main character.” He added: “If we have Princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do? Taking into account that, and also the idea of the balance of the Triforce, we thought it best to come back to this [original] makeup.” Many suggested that as Nintendo created the lore for The Legend of Zelda, they could just as easily change it, and that their justification for keeping the status quo in the Zelda series was inadequate as a result.
Notch’s statement that arguing for the inclusion of female playable characters in video games is “censorship” is pretty bleak. Though it’s perfectly understandable for an individual to argue the case for Nintendo keeping a male Link as the game’s sole protagonist – even if their reasoning for this was a little laughable – the claim that those who believe triple-A series such as Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed, which feature a rotating series of protagonists, should include the option of playable women are guilty of trying to censor developers is questionable.
Critics and consumers alike criticize video games for a variety of reasons, so the notion that taking developers to task over their choice of characters somehow oversteps the mark and veers into censorship is dubious to say the least. Nintendo were taken to task over their lack of a female playable character in The Legend of Zelda, and they decided to still carry on and still with their male Link regardless of these criticisms. Where exactly is the censorship here?