Posted on April 23 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
In today’s world where there are wars fought over expendable resources instead of against poverty, the growing gaming community just seems unimportant by comparison. This doesn’t mean that gaming isn’t important, but its overall relevance to life in general is small. While we see some games that deal with scientific genius with amazing quips (IE Portal) or great story telling (Mass Effect), sometimes we forget that games in general can teach valuable life lessons that are sometimes hard to accept from a reality perspective, especially when coming from people in authority.
I preface this because The Legend of Zelda, one of the greatest gaming franchises ever created, has reached its own milestone this year. It didn’t get to its 25th birthday by simply providing great game play and innovation, but also by combining simplistic stories that teach kids lessons about life. While it doesn’t always show the consequence of choice (Majora’s Mask not withstanding), it does show how Link is thrust over and over again into situations he is not emotionally and physically ready to deal with. Still, he presses on because he must. Sometimes due to love, other times to duty. This part of why I will simply never give up on the Zelda series.
Nintendo has always done things differently than everyone else. It has garnered a lot of respect for what it’s done because above all else they want to make sure you actually have fun playing a game, regardless of emotional connections. Nintendo is not the greatest story teller, but with Zelda they seem to always be able to teach a lesson. In Hylian Dan’s The Message of Majora’s Mask we learn that a game can have such a deep and profound meaning that it can still even teach adults something about themselves several years later.
While The Legend of Zelda is squaring off against Starcraft for the greatest franchise of all time (or has already won at this point), I can’t help but be thankful for everything the Zelda series has done for me without realizing it. For starters, if you’re reading this, it brought me to you… and more importantly it brought you to us. All the articles you enjoy here, the game content, the videos, the news both good and bad, all came about because of Zelda. You get entertained by this site because Zelda simply means that much to all of us.
As we progress into realms that go far and beyond Zelda at this site, it’s still the fundamental reason any of it happened, which is why we could never give it up. Zelda is part of us. For me it’s even more special since I turn 25 this year. That means Zelda has been around as long as I have been on this planet we call earth. I had no idea the first time I played The Legend of Zelda on my dad’s NES when I was 4 that 21 years later I would be writing about the game series daily, and who knows, maybe even making a living off of it someday.
Of course, Zelda goes beyond that. Many of the games I play today have taken direct inspiration from “something” Zelda did at one point or another. Whether it’s a lock on targeting system or one of the all too “cliché” plot twists, its inspired the entire gaming world.
Going back to one of my earlier points, the reason Zelda is so important to all of us is the community it has created. For those not aware, Zelda has one of the strongest online fan communities of any game franchise out there. Don’t believe me? Just look at the number of fan sites. Look at the statistics of those fan sites (Zelda Dungeon is pulling 25k daily visitors who check out 100,000 different pages a day, Zelda Universe is around 10k, and we here at Zelda Informer are sitting around 6.5k with 24,000 page views). That’s only really scratching the surface. If a major game site makes a great article pertaining to Zelda, it instantly becomes one of the most viewed editorial works on the entire site for that year.
A lot of other games may be more popular on an individual game by game sales comparison, but none of them provide the lasting impact of Zelda. Mario sells more games, but are people still talking about Mario Galaxy 2 anymore, or are we all just looking forward to Super Mario 3D? Even while talking about Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time 3DS, gamers are still bringing up Majora’s Mask, A Link to the Past, and heck… even the original The Legend of Zelda. It’s not just a small community, it’s the entire internet.
If that isn’t enough evidence of Zelda‘s impact, look no further than theorizing. While it has admittedly died down some in recent years, theorizing is one thing the community is known for, and no one rages at Nintendo when they get something wrong. We simply find a way to work around the error to make the timeline still work. I would argue no one has a greater understanding of their core audience than Nintendo. While Zelda has lacked any major changes in a decade until Skyward Sword comes out, it hasn’t diminished the quality of the series on the whole.
A lot of other franchises die out over time because simply repeating the same thing over and over just doesn’t work (RIP Guitar Hero… until we meet again). Zelda has been repeating itself arguably since 1992, yet no one has grown completely tired of what, at this point, should be considered an award winning formula.
Beyond all this, The Legend of Zelda has made me a better person. Not just for the many lessons it’s taught me, but for the many times it’s just simply been the light at the end of the tunnel. As the title says, I’m Never Gonna Give You Up.