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.