Valentine's Day was earlier this week, so to keep with the culture of love that we try to nurture at Nerd901, we’re going to discuss a character that we have a deep affection for in gaming, comics, movies, etc. As a huge Legend of Zelda fan, I’ve chosen to share my love for Link, the hero of the series.
The mostly silent protagonist is a fantastic character for a fantasy series because he is an avatar for the player. Because Link usually doesn’t have scripted dialogue, the player is allowed to fill those voids in conversation with other characters with their own interpretation of what should be said. While playing as Link, if a player chooses to name him Link, players can fill the emotional gaps with how they think they should feel. This extension of oneself heightens the immersive experience because a player can insert their own characteristics, emotions, experiences, motivations, or thoughts into Link. Shigeru Miyamoto has said Link serves as a connection between the player and the Zelda universe, hence the name.
As a kid, I was puzzled about why Link didn’t have any dialogue, but as a got older I saw the symbolism of the character. Without knowing it, I was diving into the world of Hyrule. I was solving puzzles, defeating Ganon, and saving Zelda, and Link was my conduit for these actions. Being Link allowed me to enter a fantasy world and have an intimate experience with it and its inhabitants.
While he is silent, Link is not a blank slate. He does have some of his own characteristics. Most importantly Link is courageous. He will stand up to an army of monsters to save Zelda or in the case of Wind Waker his sister. He bears the Spirit of the Hero, an unbreakable spirit to do what is right and just. Often picked as a young boy or young adult, Link doesn’t hesitate to shoulder the burden of saving the kingdom of Hyrule throughout the series timeline. He exemplifies valor, and his synonymous with courage in the video game world.
Undaunted by the vast odds in front of him, Link always finds a way to soldier on, usually with help from friends. There are two lessons there. No matter the odds, always move forward, and your friends will help you through tough times. During his quests, Link often comes to an obstacle he is not equipped to overcome, but his guidance from an ally he can find an item to move forward. Those who are our true allies will help us find what we need to carry on through life whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or a bracelet that allows you to pick exploding flowers.
Link may not be the most compelling character, but he inspires so many people with his courage and strength. While he may be designed as a vehicle to carry players through a story, he is own of the most important characters in video game history.