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25 Jul 21:00

Well, Now We Have to Play Super Smash Bros

by Brad
24 Jul 22:50

Everything Is Better on Vacation

by Molly Horan

Rhett and Link explain how a vacation can make even the worst misfortune seem like good luck.

24 Jul 10:21

Sometimes, all people want is a little compliment

24 Jul 07:00

Back pain: Acetaminophen no better than placebos

by Cory Doctorow

A large-scale, rigorous study published in the Lancet found that the go-to, front-line treatment for back pain was no better than a placebo.

We did a multicentre, double-dummy, randomised, placebo controlled trial across 235 primary care centres in Sydney, Australia, from Nov 11, 2009, to March 5, 2013. We randomly allocated patients with acute low-back pain in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive up to 4 weeks of regular doses of paracetamol (three times per day; equivalent to 3990 mg paracetamol per day), as-needed doses of paracetamol (taken when needed for pain relief; maximum 4000 mg paracetamol per day), or placebo. Randomisation was done according to a centralised randomisation schedule prepared by a researcher who was not involved in patient recruitment or data collection. Patients and staff at all sites were masked to treatment allocation. All participants received best-evidence advice and were followed up for 3 months. The primary outcome was time until recovery from low-back pain, with recovery defined as a pain score of 0 or 1 (on a 0—10 pain scale) sustained for 7 consecutive days. All data were analysed by intention to treat. This study is registered with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry, number ACTN 12609000966291.

Efficacy of paracetamol for acute low-back pain: a double-blind, randomised controlled trial [Dr Christopher M Williams PhD, Prof Christopher G Maher PhD, Prof Jane Latimer, Prof Andrew J McLachlan PhD, Mark J Hancock PhD c, Prof Richard O Day MD, Chung-Wei Christine Lin PhD/The Lancet]

(Image: Hydrocodone, Guian Bolisay, CC-BY-SA) Discuss

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13 Jul 20:00

In honor of their maybe-possible return, 10 essential Strong Bad e-mails

by Ars Staff

Don't forget to hold TAB!

Surprise! Strong Bad, it's me! Homestar Runner! From school!

Homestar Runner co-creator Matt Chapman made a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings happy when he said earlier this week that the cartoon could be making a comeback later this year following a successful experiment on April Fools' Day. If you watched the cartoons during their heyday, the news probably sent you down a nostalgic rabbit hole where you spent two hours re-watching all of your favorite episodes.

If you happened to miss out on Homestar during its peak, here's what you need to know: creators Matt and Mike Chapman made a lot of different Flash cartoons for the site, but the most popular were Strong Bad E-mails, also called "sbemails." Every week, Strong Bad (the luchador-looking guy in the picture above) picked a different fan-submitted e-mail to answer, and hilarity ensued. The site was updated regularly throughout the early 2000s before becoming more irregular later in the decade, and updates mostly ceased in 2009 as the Chapman brothers moved on to other projects.

We've combed through the archive and assembled 10 Strong Bad e-mails that do a pretty good job of showing what this odd Internet cartoon could be at its best. It's impossible to call out all of the good ones, but if these hook you the complete collection is still available here.

Read 37 remaining paragraphs | Comments

25 Jul 00:50

Sorry Ubisoft, Nintendo Beat You To The Top (Of The Mountain)

by Luke Plunkett

Shared for the bit about the DS units. Nintendo seems to always make solid portables.

Sorry Ubisoft, Nintendo Beat You To The Top (Of The Mountain)

Ubisoft is spending a lot of money on a competition which promises to let one person become the first to ever play a video game on Mt Everest, using custom hardware built to withstand the "harsh conditions". It sounds amazing! Pity it's already been done.

As this epic thread bump on NeoGAF shows (the original Kotaku link is so old it doesn't even work anymore), back in 2005 we told you about an expedition to the summit of the world's tallest mountain undertaken by Neal Mueller.

Neal and his colleagues took a bunch of electronics up the mountain with them. And only one device withstood the conditions. As he explained at the time:

We totally had so much electronic equipment, and Id say the Nintendo DS held up the best of any of it. We were using a CB radio to stay in touch and that would consistently go bad then wed bring it back to life. It was because of the wind and the cold, we had a Dell computer that got fried, a Polytechnic screen that went out we had three of the four MP3 players go bad, but the Nintendo DS units keep hanging in there. And it was the Nintendo DS units that suffered the worst of it - they were constantly with us in our tents which were moist and cold the were right there in our packs so they suffered a lot of wind blasts, they were dropped. And the Sherpas would beat the (heck) out of them - theyd play with them in the kitchen where curry would get split on them, all these incredibly hot spices and they kept on performing.

Instead of going to all the trouble of building special hardware, I wonder if it'd be cheaper for Ubisoft to just port Far Cry 4 to the DS...

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25 Jul 02:04

Firefly's Whole Cast Will Reunite for Firefly Online

by Katharine Trendacosta on io9, shared by Luke Plunkett to Kotaku

Firefly's Whole Cast Will Reunite for Firefly Online

Announced today at Comic-Con: All of the original Firefly stars will reprise their characters for the online game! And Alan Tudyk is playing multiple roles. Also showing up will be Michael Fairman as the crime lord Niska, who is apparently hiring.

More details from the panel as we hear them!

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24 Jul 19:56

EU wants Google to extend "right to be forgotten" to global users

by Cory Doctorow

Right now, Google blocks "forgotten" articles on EU versions of its site.

But EU data protection regulators say that because Europeans can simply load the US version of Google and see the censored results that Google has not done enough. It's conceivable that they could demand that Google block "forgotten" results from searches originating on a European IP address, but that would also be trivial to circumvent. Ultimately, the only way to accomplish the European goal is to block the results worldwide.

This would be a policy disaster. If it's legit for the EU to dictate what Google can publish in Canada, the US, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, why not vice-versa? I'm sure the Thai monarchy would love to extend its lese majeste censorship of material critical of the royal family to the rest of the world; the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice would like to use Wahabiism to filter the net; Putin would love to extend his ban on "homosexual propaganda" to the EU, and so on.

A dumbass Canadian judge embarrassed the land of my birth by ordering something on these lines recently. It's an attitude that's one part King Kanute, one part Lord High Executioner.

Google under fire from regulators over response to EU privacy ruling [Reuters]

(via Ars Technica)

(Image: Facebook: The privacy saga continues,, CC-BY-SA) Discuss

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21 Jul 00:37

Ocarina Of Time, Metroid Prime Speedrun Records Beaten

by Luke Plunkett

That is one impressive OoT speedrun.

Ocarina Of Time, Metroid Prime Speedrun Records Beaten

It's been a big few days for people who like to watch other people play video games real fast: the world records for both Ocarina of Time and Metroid Prime have been beaten, the former in almost perfect fashion.

T3's Metroid Prime run of fifty-five minutes is below.

And here's Cosmo Wright's Ocarina run, which he describes as "the best speed run I have ever done".

Or, try the best anyone has ever done, and may ever do (at least for a while). This is damn near perfect.

Note that he finishes the game in 18 minutes and ten seconds. The amount of time he's shaved off his own world records in just a few shorts months is insane.

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23 Jul 01:30

League Of Legends Testing New System For Banning Assholes

by Luke Plunkett

I like the idea of publishing chat transcripts. "You really think you weren't an asshole? Let's see what the community thinks."

League Of Legends Testing New System For Banning Assholes

As popular as it is, League of Legends has always had an issue with its community, which to be polite can often be seen as "rude". And while developers Riot are trying some novel approaches to mending this the nice way, that carrot is being joined by a new, heavy stick.

Riot is currently testing a new combination of human review and "machine learning" to identify and punish players exhibiting "extreme cases of toxicity" (listed examples include intentional feeding, racism, death threats and homphobia). It's being tested so they can sort out how many false-positives it returns, but if it works, we can hopefully expect more bans for people who are dragging regular player's experiences into a negative space.

Players could be banned from a period of two weeks up to forever if busted engaging in this kind of talk.

In another break from current policy, Riot will also be tackling the issue of players complaining about their bans. If a player is caught by this new system attacking another player and they debate their innocence, Riot will be publishing chat transcripts so as to be "fully transparent".

Some players have also asked why we've taken such an aggressive stance when we've been focused on reform; well, the key here is that for most players, reform approaches are quite effective. But, for a number of players, reform attempts have been very unsuccessful which forces us to remove some of these players from League entirely.

Go get 'em, Riot.

If you are racist in soloQ get ready for a 14 day ban. [LoL Reddit]

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23 Jul 16:30

Show Us Your Favorite Batman Story

by Evan Narcisse

"Almost Got 'Im" from Batman: the Animated Series. Best batman episode ever.

Show Us Your Favorite Batman Story

According to DC Comics, it's Batman Day today. So let's talk about your favorite stories featuring the Dark Knight.

For me, like loads of other fans, it's really hard to pin it down from just one Batman story. I'm already on the record as a big fan of Venom, the 1991 story from the Legends of the Dark Knight anthology series. Also, this scene from Batman: Year One is a great example of just how much the Dark Knight's appearance upends the corrupt nature of Gotham City so that's up there in my personal favorites list.

But the Robin's Reckoning episode from the mid-1990s Batman: The Animated Series also make my best Batman list, too. It's a good illustration of how adding Robin to the mythos makes Batman better, by giving him someone to help and a way to connect back with emotional ties that were deadened after his own parents died.

Batman's celebrating his 75th anniversary this year. That's a lot of stories. Surely you have some that you think other people should know about. The Dark Knight Returns? The Laughing Fish? Return of the Joker? Damien Wayne's first appearance? A random issue from the old Brave and Bold comics? What are your favorite stories featuring the Dark Knight?

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24 Jul 07:34

Leaked manual shows how US agencies put millions on "suspected terrorist" list

by Cory Doctorow

The 166 page "March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance" was jointly authored by 19 agencies, and has been released in full on The Intercept.

As Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux point out in their analysis, the document is positively Kafkaesque, allowing agencies to add you to the watchlist if you are suspected of associating with a person who is suspected of being under suspicion of being a terrorist -- and "terrorist" has been redefined to include "people who damage government property," and people who seek to "influence government policy through intimidation."

This document -- and the millions who've been placed under suspicion as a result of it -- owes its existence to the Obama administration and its face-saving drive to expand the list of surveillance targets in the wake of the unsuccessful "underwear bomber" plot.

The criteria allow people to be put under suspicion without "concrete facts" and establishes thresholds as low as a single uncorroborated tweet or Facebook post. It also provides for adding whole "classes" of people to the list without any particular individual suspicion.

One interesting aspect of this document and the accompanying reportage: the accompanying article does not identify Edward Snowden as its source, and is deliberately vague about its provenance. This may be further evidence of a second NSA leaker -- a big deal, since Edward Snowden was the first person to ever leak NSA documents to the press. However, given the number of agencies involved in the document's creation, it may be that the leak came from another agency.

The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist [Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux/The Intercept] Discuss

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23 Jul 15:34

Department of Dirty will help Cameron depornify the Internet

by Cory Doctorow

Pam writes, "Open Rights Group has produced a new satirical film to raise awareness of internet filters - a spoof campaign by the 'Department of Dirty'."

Ever thought the internet was just too big? Want to help clean up online filth? Welcome to the Department of Dirty

Watch the Department stop one man try to get one over us with his 'spotted dick recipe'.

The Department of Dirty is working with internet and mobile companies to stop the dirty internet. We need you to help us take a stand against blogs, charities and education websites, many of which are thankfully blocked by filters.

Department of Dirty (Thanks, Pam!)

(Disclosure: I co-founded the Open Rights Group and am proud to serve as an unpaid volunteer on its advisory board) Discuss

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21 Jul 20:08

Facebook Creates Save Feature, Because You Really Do Want To Read That Article Later – Right?

by Ashlee Kieler

You mean, just now, Facebook is implementing a feature I've been using for years in my RSS reader?

Here's what the new Save feature looks like on Facebook's mobile app. (Facebook)

Here’s what the new Save feature looks like on Facebook’s mobile app. (Facebook)

Have you ever happened across your high school bestie’s highly anticipated new baby-filled photo album on Facebook, but didn’t have time to scan through 200 photos? But, alas, when you went back to peruse the site later you forgot all about that album, essentially depriving yourself. Apparently, that’s a problem (if you can call it that) the engineers at Facebook have found a solution to.

The social media site recently announced on its blog a new feature called Save that lets you, ahem, save all those interesting things you see floating around your News Feed.

Users can save links, places, videos, music and other things to a “for your eyes only” tab on the site for later investigation. If you really feel the need to show others what you’re putting off, you can share your saved items with your friends.

The items can be viewed at anytime by simply going to the “More” tab on the mobile app or by clicking the link on the left hand side of Facebook’s site on a computer.

The list of saved items is organized by category and can be archived once you’ve had your fun.

And don’t worry about forgetting you saved something, either. Facebook will periodically show users a reminder of their saved items in their News Feed.

The new feature will be available on iOS, Android and the web in the next few days.

Introducing Save on Facebook [Facebook]

23 Jul 17:34

EarthBound - Not Your Typical JRPG

by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

Pretty glowing, considering it's Yahtzee reviewing.

If you or a friend has ever considered playing a JRPG, this is the one I recommend.

This week, Zero Punctuation reviews EarthBound.
23 Jul 05:31


22 Jul 21:46

Honest Trailer: Pokémon Red and Blue

by Don

Screen Junkies teams up with Smosh in this honest trailer for the original 1996 Pokemon Gameboy games.

22 Jul 13:20

High Level Starcraft II Play Starts Here

by Gergo Vas

High Level Starcraft II Play Starts Here

StarCraft II might be off the radar nowadays, but that doesn't mean the pros stopped getting better and better at the game. One highlight was a recent match between two Koreans, Parting and Byul, where the Protoss veteran basically destroyed the Zerg with perfect control of only a few units.

Here's the full match below. After both players set up their bases in the first few minutes, things get intense with Parting's crazy Warp Prism and Immortal micro. It's totally one of those chilling moments, seeing someone warping the two immortals back and forth so easily during the entire game, giving the Zerg units no chance to attack.

Code S Ro32 Group F Match 1 Set 2 2014 GSL Season 2 [GomTV, YouTube]

To contact the author of this post, write to:

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21 Jul 16:20

How to perfectly load a dishwasher

by Matthew Inman
20 Jul 14:53

North Korea most upset with Chinese viral video mocking Kim Jong-Un

by Xeni Jardin

[Video Link] The song playing in this viral video mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is a Chinese pop hit by the Chopstick Brothers, which was pretty amazing in its own right.

"The clip was made by a Chinese man surnamed Zhang from Suzhou who reportedly studied at Kyonggi University in South Korea," reports Chosun Ilbo:

North Korea has asked China to stop the spread of a video clip lampooning leader Kim Jong-un.

According to a source in China on Tuesday, the North feels the clip, which shows Kim dancing and Kung-Fu fighting, "seriously compromises Kim's dignity and authority."

Beijng was unable to oblige.

The video depicts Kim fighting and dancing. In one scene U.S. President Barack Obama knocks him out. In another, a bucket is placed on his head and he falls into a swimming pool. At one point, he dances through a field hand in hand with Osama Bin Laden.


Related Boing Boing posts:

• "'Little Apple,' new viral hit from China's Chopstick Brothers"
• "North Korean Denunciation Generator"
• "North Korea files UN complaint over James Franco/Seth Rogen film" Discuss

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19 Jul 13:35

Cosplay level: Perfect

18 Jul 21:06

Video proof of Verizon throttling Netflix

by Dean Putney

In this infuriating video, Colin Nederkoorn records his computer streaming Netflix's test video over his Verizon FiOS connection. Then, via a VPN on the same home network, he receives a nearly ten-times faster stream.

Get out of town. Forcing your internet traffic through a VPN should slow your connection, not speed it up. But here, something (presumably Verizon) is preventing Colin from getting normal speeds without hiding his traffic usage from his provider. So much so that he's installing a router to run all his traffic at home through the VPN.

Read Colin's full post on his test, then go swear vengeance on something. [Video Link, via Waxy] Discuss

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19 Jul 11:00

How a Glock works

18 Jul 04:45

Captain ManGuy

by jon


Captain ManGuy

Captain ManGuy

He’s got massive pecs

Captain ManGuy

Look out

Here comes Captain ManGuy*


*sung to the tune of the Spider-man theme song


17 Jul 16:22

Colbert & Stewart's Star Wars Battle for Charity

by Molly Horan

The Comedy Central news hosts fought to see who is the truest Star Wars fan to support UNICEF Innovation Labs, which is offering supporters a chance to be in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII film.

17 Jul 06:50

Fake TSA screener infiltrates SFO checkpoint, gropes women

by Cory Doctorow

That's good work there, boys.

He was allegedly drunk, and had at least two victims before SFO's crackerjack private aviation security outfit, Covenant, noticed (they're the same ones who smashed my brand new camera some years ago and refused to take responsibility for it).

Because all his victims had already flown by the time anyone noticed that the guy in khakis, a blue polo, and blue gloves who'd been steering women into the private screening booth wasn't actually airport security, they can't charge him with anything except being drunk in public. Meanwhile, the woman travellers whom America has systematically trained to defer to aviation authority or face brutal punishments apparently didn't notice anything amiss.

Fake screener probes passengers at SFO [Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross/SF Gate] (Thanks, Steve!)

(Image: another found object from the hood , Paul Joseph, CC-BY) Discuss

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16 Jul 10:27

Google Plus drops "Real Names" policy

by Cory Doctorow

It's a step, but unless Plus gets full RSS functionality, I have no desire to go back.

After years of criticism, Google Plus has finally dropped its controversial, Facebook-alike "Real Names" policy.

No longer will the company have to adjudicate whether your name is a real name, whether stalking survivors and human rights campaigners should have to put their safety in jeopardy to use the core Google services into which G+ has been wedged (for several years, googlers' annual bonuses were based in part on the success of G+, causing it to be shoehorned into Google in every conceivable, obnoxious way).

The policy change is a huge climbdown, after the top execs at Google told anyone who disagreed to go fuck themselves, and refused to engage with substantive arguments about the difficulty inherent in names. It's nice that the company is finally listening to the chorous of experts who've been appalled by the policy, though they don't say much about why they've made the change:

We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be. Thank you for expressing your opinions so passionately, and thanks for continuing to make Google+ the thoughtful community that it is.

Today, we are taking the last step: there are no more restrictions on what name you can use. (via /.)

(Image: Anonymous va a los Goya, Enrique Dans, CC-BY) Discuss

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16 Jul 10:17

Yet another TSA screener doesn't know that DC is part of America

by Cory Doctorow

An Orlando TSA screener told a DC-based reporter that he'd need a passport to fly, because DC isn't a state, so a DC driver's license wasn't valid ID.

This isn't the first time we've written about this here, and it's not an isolated incident, according to the TSA.

The real problem with this kind of dunderheadedness is that it makes it clear that the whole TSA rigmarole is just a pointless, humiliating, expensive dumbshow. If a TSA screener doesn't have the basic smarts to know that DC is part of the USA, it calls into question his ability to make good judgments about anything. Either terrorism is an existential threat to America, in which case the TSA checkpoints should be staffed by highly skilled crackerjacks, or it's not a big deal, in which case, we should be keeping our shoes on and flying with as much hair gel as we can carry. But saying that a single aviation attack is the end of America as we know it, and acting like it's a small enough risk that we can staff checkpoints with dimbulbs makes you wonder if this isn't about civil service empire-building, government contractor pork, and a general contempt for the American public, and not about terrorism at all.

Reporter stopped by TSA agent who didn't know District of Columbia is in US Discuss

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16 Jul 21:10

Weird Al's "FOIL" Spoofs Lorde's "Royals"

by Brad

Weird Al Yankovic, the grandfather of all pop music parodies, continues his month-long media blitz for his new album “Mandatory Fun” with his third music video of the week “FOIL,” which spoofs Lorde’s 2013 hit single “Royals”.

16 Jul 17:00

How I Learned Link's 'Real' Name

by Yannick LeJacq

I seem to remember reading in an old gaming mag that the name "Link" was chosen because the main character was supposed to represent the "link" between the player and the game world.

How I Learned Link's 'Real' Name

"Link isn't even his real name," a friend told me recently. We were talking about Zelda, and the way people reacted to the new trailer for the next big game in the series.

My friend is more of a Zelda veteran than I. But still, his comment seemed heretical. This is Link we're talking about! He's not some two-bit space marine. Everybody knows who he is. Even lapsed gamers were keeping an ear tuned to E3 this year, hungry for news of the guy's long-awaited console return.

Why is Link named Link? This is one of those questions every newcomer to The Legend of Zelda must face. Asking it is second only to that time-honored tradition of realizing that Zelda doesn't refer to the the guy wielding a sword and shield like a total badass in all the promotional art. I've heard many theories throughout the years. But my friend's answer is the most intriguing I've heard by far.

"Link is just what they put down at the beginning," he continued. "You change it to your own name once you start playing."

The name "Link" is just a placeholder in his view. It's an arbitrary stand-in that was made with the common understanding that players would replace it with their own mark, making themselves the hero in these legends. "Link" even sounds like the perfect referent for this. It's simple, opaque enough to sound like it could be a real name. But the word suggests a bond being established between the little warrior dressed in green and whoever's on the other side of the screen. Plus, it beats seeing "YOUR NAME HERE" plastered across the front of a game's box.

I had never played a Zelda game in any substantive way, but I knew what my friend was getting at. He was referring to the way that some games prompt players to rename a character without giving them any other options to change his or her physical or emotional constitution. It's a funny dynamic that I don't see that much anymore, since many other story-driven games now lean on voice acting, rather than text bubbles, to get their message across. Voice-over work requires names to be more firmly set in stone, because the actors in younger series than Zelda can't predict every possible name players want to assign to the hero of any given story.

How I Learned Link's 'Real' Name

The Legend of Zelda games are interesting because they haven't stopped using the old naming convention, however. When my friend began describing his theory about Link's real name, for instance, I thought back to playing Final Fantasy VII in high school. I relished the opportunity to rename that game's spiky-haired sword-wielding protagonist. He wasn't Cloud anymore, he was Yannick. He didn't look, or act, anything like me. But I didn't want him to. I wanted to become Cloud, not the other way around. Switching the names felt amazing, even if I knew it was only a surface-level change.

Things are different for Zelda, though. There was only one Final Fantasy VII. There've been a few more Clouds here and there since that game came out. But no single character in Final Fantasy has risen to the same stature as Link. Zelda has survived with a similar cast of core characters since the first Legend of Zelda came out for the NES in 1986. That means Link is almost 30 at this point, which is ancient in video game years.

He's gone through many changes since his NES days, of course. There have been young Links and teenage ones. Cute Links and serious Links. Lefties and righties. In some games, such as the Nintendo 64 classic Ocarina of Time, there are different versions of Link in the same story.

Trying to chart all these different Links is enough to make your head spin. But the incredible diversity that Nintendo has brought to this one character makes his continued relevance all the more impressive, especially when you consider the company he keeps.

Many other iconic video game protagonists have risen and fallen since the eighties. And many have gone through periodic transformations the same way Link and Princess Zelda have. But if you compare Link to other enduring characters like Mario or Lara Croft, I think Nintendo has achieved something truly unique with its Zelda games, something my friend helped me truly appreciate for the first time.

Take Lara Croft, for instance. Her physical appearance has varied throughout the years as she's appeared in video games, comics, live-action movies, and rebooted versions of all these things. But she's always remained Lara Croft and only Lara Croft. A trailer for the latest Tomb Raider reboot proclaimed that we're all Lara Croft in some idealistic sense. But as much as I loved the new Tomb Raider, I didn't buy that tagline for a second. I like playing as Lara Croft, much in the same way I like playing as countless other heroes in games. But I still know Lara as Lara, the same way I know Mario as Mario.

These games are fun because they allow you to become a famous and superhuman character. Zelda does that. But it also does something else, I'd argue. Something far more profound. The games don't just invite you to become Link. Link also becomes you. Every time one of the Zelda games prompt you to rename the famous hero, they're also inviting Link into a deeply personal inner sanctum of one's own fantasy.

How I Learned Link's 'Real' Name

It's a tricky maneuver, and one I'm honestly not sure anyone else has achieved in video games. Part of me has to wonder if Nintendo would have even established the same pattern of allowing players to rename Link if they started making the series today. In either case, the people behind Zelda have made a deliberate choice to keep the tradition alive. The first option you are presented with in A Link Between Worlds, last year's 3DS game and the most recent installment in the main Zelda series, is one asking once again if you'd like to rename Link.

This might all sound basic to seasoned Zelda fans. But the reason I love the detail my friend pointed out, even as someone with limited experience actually playing these games, is that it explains why longtime fans of Nintendo's series hold Link so near and dear to their hearts.

Remember, the only reason I was talking about Link in the first place with my Zelda-playing friend was because the trailer Nintendo brought to E3 had kicked off some serious speculation. People took to the internet immediately after the trailer ended to begin debating what they had just seen. Some wondered if the person in the trailer was Link at all. Most notably, others proposed that Link was going to be a girl in the new game.

This confused me. As a relative outsider to the series, Link has always struck me as a bit androgynous. I assumed this was a deliberate aesthetic choice on Nintendo's part, a way to accentuate the waifish, boyish innocence that makes him such a charming protagonist.

I don't want to put words into the mouths of any Zelda fans. But my friend's argument helped me understand why so many people got caught up in a flurry of excitement about who, or what, the next Link is going to be. Because they were also wondering, on some level, who they were going to be in this new adventure as well.

So: what is Link's real name? He doesn't have any single name. Maybe, slowly, he won't even have a single gender. He's a gathering point for many aspiring heroes, a point people can fixate on but also see themselves reflected in.

Images by Sam Woolley

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq.

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