NES ROM hacks and discourses on gender anxieties


Earlier this month, Mike Mika made headlines for hacking the 8-bit classic game Donkey Kong so that the roles of Mario, the hero, and Pauline, the damsel-in-distress, were swapped. Mika implemented the game hack to allow his 3-year-old daughter to play the game as Pauline.

Much of the media coverage compared this touching story to a similar one that circulated last year about another daddy-daughter team: “Super Dad” Mike Hoye, who edited The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker to cast Link as a female rather than as a male, and his three-year-old daughter Maya.

I am very happy to see classic game hacking alive and well, and I am very happy to see these interesting projects getting widespread coverage. I think these dads’ projects are great. However, I find the some of the discourse presented by the news media and online commentary problematic.

A new trend?

NPR stated that…

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