News / Canada

Dad hacks video game to give daughter female character

In Mike Mika's version of Donkey Kong, it's the princess who rescues Mario.

In response to a plea from his three-year-old daughter, Mika hacked the game, swapping the characters and bringing a little gender parity to the classic Nintendo title.

"She's played as Princess Toadstool in Super Mario Bros. 2 and naturally just assumed she could do the same in Donkey Kong. I told her we couldn't in that particular Mario game, she seemed really bummed out by that," he wrote in a post uploaded to Reddit on Saturday.

"So what else am I supposed to do? Now I'm up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline."

For his efforts, Mika is being hailed as the "Best Dad Ever" by Reddit users.

It's not the first time a doting father has hacked his daughter's way to hero-dom. Last year, software developer Mike Hoye released a version of Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker that turned the game's protagonist into a young woman.

"I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers," Hoye wrote in a blog post.

University of Toronto professor Sara Grimes says hacks like Hoye's and Mika's are a response to decades of under-representation of women in video games.

"The reaction from the media and the gaming community has been so positive, I think, because they're answering a need for more equal gender representation in games," she said.

Grimes is hopeful that being able to play as female characters will encourage more young women to get involved in the video game industry.

"As long as the game industry fails to be as diverse as it could be, the game content will be as well," she said. "So I can't wait for the story about the young girl who hacks the game herself to put a female character in the lead role."

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