How The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Helped One Girl Overcome Her Illness

By Sato . July 10, 2014 . 5:31pm

Video games can evoke all kinds of feelings from players, ranging from happiness to sadness—sometimes even courage. The Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma recently shared with fans a touching story about a girl who overcame her illness with the help of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.


Here’s what Aonuma said:


Since I began working on The Legend of Zelda, what has moved me the most came from a certain fan letter. This letter was from the mother of an elementary school girl, who was hospitalized due to an illness, and she gave her daughter Ocarina of Time so she could play it while rehabilitating.


At first, she felt “this is impossible for me,” but over time, she began getting the hang of it. Then one day, she told her mother, “if Link is trying this hard, then I will, too!” as she put more effort into her rehabilitation. And before they knew it, she was back to her healthy self.


After reading the letter, I thought about how Link is someone who is being controlled by the player, but there’s also a little something he was able to give back over time [in this case, courage to the little girl].


To think that one could put in more effort after watching Link to do the same, and that such a positive way of thinking arose from the game, is something that makes me very happy.


It’s not that we purposely intend that while making games, but the key lies within what the players get to experience in the world.


However, I believe that The Legend of Zelda is a game that can possibly bring out such feelings, and if you could start expecting that from now on, it’d bring me great pleasure!


Both Aonuma and Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto have said in the past that Link is meant to serve as an avatar for the player. In recent comments, Aonuma even encouraged fans to provide Nintendo with their thoughts on the way he looks in the trailer for the Wii U Zelda game, upon hearing that some mistook him for a lady.


“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,” Aonuma said to Game Informer.


“I am certainly curious, and I am sure there are things we as developers can glean.”


Nintendo have been making an effort to include more female characters in their games of late, and recently discussed the benefits of having varied development teams. Judging by Aonuma’s previous comments and now this story about the Ocarina girl, it sounds like he’s certainly got player inclusion on his mind.

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  • :+)

  • Justin Graham

    That is very touching!

  • LemonsArentForever

    this is awesome and it goes to show you that while games are a form of entertainment(and no one should take them TOO seriously) they can be so much more than that, whether that be instilling hope in a little girl or just teaching you a life i lesson. i know Ive been taught a few life lessons myself from games. it truly is a magical medium(that sounds cheesy) that i hope continues to make people happy and bring friends together for years to come.

  • Shippoyasha

    I think Link is in a good place by being a prettyboy male elf character where he can get a lot of fandom from both genders that way. It wouldn’t hurt to have more spinoff types of games where we see more new characters including a female protagonist (Zelda herself perhaps, or other Hylian characters).

    • HarakiriKami

      practically every important Npc in zelda is female lol

      • Nanashrew

        Yep. Even the animal kingdom and your trusty steed, Epona.

      • Feenyx16

        ^^^ This!

    • Time Sage

      Of the currently announced characters for for Hyrule Warriors, Link is the the only male. This should tell us something about the series.

      • Shippoyasha

        A lot of Zelda stories were kind of simple on the outside after all. Most characters Link meets are NPCs/townsfolk or some kind of a villain. It’s kind of Mario-esque how they usually stick to Mario first, Luigi second. Except it’s typically a Link centric game if it’s a swordplay based Zelda title, with the lone hero. They will have to mix up the whole combat from the ground up if they are going to utilize different combat styles. Which could mix things up naturally.

  • Mind0105A

    Games should follow this example.

  • AsianDude2o9

    I was reading this while listening to this very touching

  • Nanashrew

    I know exactly how that little girl feels. I played a lot of Nintendo and Sega games when I broke my leg and needed to go through some rehabilitation. The games allowed me to get my mind off of the pain and my own thoughts while giving me the drive to continue.

  • Yan Zhao

    This is why I like Zelda games, they were always magical playing them as a kid.

  • Go2hell66

    So corny i dont believe it

    Almost sounds fake

    • Wtv

      It sounds true alright. Things like this happen everytime. But, had she not recovered from her ill, we would never have heard about this one thing she said before. So to each story about superation, there are others less happy stories in the same situation.

      Ok, I’ll try to be less pessimistic. I’m happy for her, whoever she is.

      • Xenu

        You’re entirely right in that regard though, it’s like the belief in santa clause for the sake of goodwill and gift-receiving to a child. The selfish hypocrisy to believe in something even though you know there’s a good chance it might not happen. That’s called hope.

    • Don’t you get it ? Anyone can get inspired by something and in this case it’s a video game who inspired a little girl to get better.

    • Tarkovsky

      Yet another cynical commentor on the interwebs. I swear it’s the internet’s doing. Then again, it could be that you’re a Gen Y or Z kid.

    • Unless you suffer from illness or personal issues, you seriously have no idea how healing video games can be. I won’t share my life story or anything, but growing up, playing games like Ocarina of Time helped me get through tough times and made me a stronger person. They have a much stronger impact than you think they would.

      • Realm25

        Based off their username, their comment doesn’t surprise me.

      • Shippoyasha

        Playing devil’s advocate here, you never really know for sure with the internet sometimes. That being said, I do agree with you that games can be pretty comfy in times of physical/emotional pain. Though for me, my medicine is usually anime, games had a similar effect as well.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Can we please stop the sarcasm. You have been doing it far too long. And come off as a bit of a twerp most times when doing so.

      • Go2hell66

        No sarcasm, was being dead serious, sounds like A grade nintendo PR malarkey, but yea looks like im in the minority

        • M’iau M’iaut

          If so many of your posts did not come off as attempts to draw attention to yourself, you would not draw so much attention to yourself.

    • SakuStar Light

      Im going to have to agree with the mod. It sad that GO2hell66 point of view on life is so limited. -.- people like you who we question 1. why do you play games or go on sites like these. 2 Why do you even want to live at this point. Just saying if a game helped someone then I for one am proud especially since its Nintendo. Go Nintendo!!!

      • Go2hell66

        Errrr wow all i said is i dont believe the story, actually quite shocked at some of the responses im getting o_o

        • SakuStar Light

          Its best to keep hateful things like that to yourself.

  • Tylor Boreas Makimoto
    • Kornelious

      Even more powerful stuff….. ;_; ;_;

    • Rita Tong


    • Alex

      I don’t…I can’t…My fucking heart…good post, I haven’t cried in awhile.

    • Maria Garcia

      that was sad

    • Chiupon

      congrats, you have ruined my eyeliner

      i’m so
      that’s so sad


    • DudeJericho

      Way to make me cry on a Friday morning…

    • Snorlaxation

      That was…it was good. Really touching, sad, but sweet. Thank you for sharing it.
      Gosh my eyes look red now..

    • Andrés González


  • Kornelious

    ….Damn…that’s some powerful stuff…… ;_;

  • epy

    But… but… Link is male! It’s impossible for a female to empathize with him! I call shenanigans!

    • JoshuaMariguez197

      “Inuyasha sit.” But seriously a female can empathize with a male character just as much as a male could empathize with a female character, there might be some things that don’t cross genders but it doesn’t stop them from being able to empathize at an adequate level.

      • That guy

        You missed the joke friend.

        • JoshuaMariguez197

          I just realized that in my defense though it was like 5 in the morning

          • That guy

            It happens to all of us at sometime friend.

  • Oguri Murasaki

    Zelda is the only reason i ever own a Wii or WiiU

    • CycloneFox

      For me it’s Zelda and Xenoblade Chronicles X. ^^

    • Vash bane

      I might do the same wiiU is next on my list for smash and the new Zelda title :)

  • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

    I don’t mean to be “that guy” ™ but the lack of detail on the story makes this too generic [for me] to believe it. I mean, what was her illness? What about the game made her try to recover? Link trying hard could be said about most any character in a videogame with half a plot. So, again, sorry to be “that guy” but to me this just sounds a bit, PR-ish~.

    Tylor Boreas Makimoto a few posts below posted a strip with an actual story. That, to me, was believable. It’s an actual story, facts, details. I could see it happen. Aonuma’s letter on the other hand, not really~.

    • Göran Isacson

      True dat, but I think this might also be a case where he doesn’t want to go into details because of wanting to preserve the girls privacy. I know how that sounds, but it’s something I see with some people- they intentionally keep stories like these vague so that nobody will figure out “this or that person must be the one they’re talking about”.

      • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

        In that case, why even go ahead and share it? I mean, altruistic people keep good deeds to themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing on the guy. I just found it a little weird he’ll say that one of his games helped somebody and immediately everybody just praises Nintendo and Zelda~.

        • Göran Isacson

          Mostly because he might just want to bring it up, but without going into a lot of details? Sure, it means there’s not a lot of details to go by or verify the story, but then again… it’s also one of those things that there is no real need to lie about. Why make up a story like that when people already love your franchise so much? When there’s no real need to drum up goodwill for an upcoming game? If one goes for the simplest possible explanation, I do simply believe the story came to mind, and he decided to tell it.

    • ShadowDivz

      And that’s how the grinch ruined christmas.
      Thanks Juan.

  • fairysun

    I guess the Triforce of Courage is really true.
    Little girl, check the back of your hand, and notice there is a Golden Triangle there.

    • God

      Too bad bro, i don’t remember giving one to a little girl… last triforce i gave was to this cool german painter with an unusual mustache… I wonder what happened to him…

  • *Next morning*
    How Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask brought despair to one girl.

    • Vash bane

      ….. you know…majora’s mask made me afraid of the dark ounce. I was on that one mission (I cant really explain it right) where you hear this ufo like sound then the creepy music will play then a bunch of ghost will be at a farm. I remember being scared for days never going out at night lol (it lasted like 4 weeks if I remember correctly XDD)

  • shenlong234

    I loved playing Zelda games when I was a kid, and I still want to play some more Zelda.

  • Andrés González

    Why not make the player decide at the beginning of the game like Pokemon?, to tell the truth i wish that Link was a dudete in the next The Legend of Zelda.

    • Vash bane

      it sounds like it will be the case here. and if im not mistaken years ago people were wondering how/why there isn’t a female link (Zelda could be considered his female counterpart) but they really wanted was for a Femlink that’s exactly like MaLlink. but I don’t know I think the problem lies in the fanbase (from what I seen in that one article) one side wants it while another doesn’t I’ve also seen fans want Zelda to be the main and link the damsel in distress.

      (unfortunately I have no knowledge of how to comment below a pic lol but ignore the text that’s something someone added there)

      • Shippoyasha

        I don’t think that will work because Link has a specific role as a warrior in the story. The way reincarnation works in that lore is that they are largely the same kind of person after rebirth. Like how Princess Zelda will always be Princess Zelda and Ganon will always be Ganon.

        While Link is mute and all, he is still very much a character onto himself.

  • ShadowDivz

    Masterpiece of gaming healing the sick?
    This isn’t news, it’s common knowledge!

  • Armane

    Hmm, Aonuma had next to no involvement with OoT, so does that mean more involvement will have the opposite effect? We’ll probably never hear about how Wind Waker HD killed an old man suffering from a headache.

  • Ric Vazquez


  • Zak Ledward

    New Requirement for a Legendary game: Save a person’s life(?)

    I think Drakengard 3 may have done the opposite then…

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