Kacey Doran, Childhood Studies (PhD)
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Meredith Bak
Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series has had one of the greatest impacts on global gaming. Like most other games of its prominence, less work has been done on the female and nonbinary player’s connection with the game than their male counterparts. Additionally, the relationship between players and rideable characters, like the horse Epona from the franchise, aren’t afforded the same attention as other elements of narrative and gameplay. My paper and presentation will consider if, as in media before it, there is a connection between girl players and Epona in the Legend of Zelda videogames. I will review fan art, promotional materials, qualitative interviews, and cutscenes from both the original Nintendo 64 releases and the Nintendo DS 3D re-releases of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998; 2011) and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000; 2015). Additionally, I will review literature on girls and horses in children’s literature, film, and companion animals in videogames. My theoretical emphases will resemble that of Valerie Walkerdine and Henry Jenkins: cultural research on videogames that examine the interrelational and spacial elements of videogames. My work also engages with reflexivity akin to research on fan art and the girl/horse connection across media. Ultimately, I seek to add to add more perspectives that go beyond the one (heteronormative white male) currently dominating historical records of videogames and use multi-disciplinary strategies to show how audience and character relationships have evolved through different children’s media.