Women were made to look helpless in Donkey Kong


Women in games have not always been like Lara Croft, blasting past dinosaurs and through ancient tombs.

In games of old, women needed to be saved – playing to an idealistic, chauvinistic dream of the mainly male game players who tended to grip the joysticks at that time.

Perhaps that is a sweeping assertion (after all, Mario is a lot of things, but muscle-bound he ain’t), but take a game such as Donkey Kong (1981) and you will see just how helpless some women have been made to look.

If only players could assume the role of the Princess and save Mario, that would go some way to righting a few wrongs, right? And so it was that Mike Mika – whose three-year-old daughter wanted to do just that – rose to the challenge. He has hacked Nintendo’s game so that the Princess is the one dodging barrels, not Mario.

The “new” character has been called Pauline, after his daughter. Mika, the creative director at Other Ocean Interactive, dubs this version the Pauline Edition. It was created by redrawing Mario’s frames on screen and swapping the M at the top to a P.

“I didn’t set out to push a feminist agenda, or try to make a statement. I just wanted to keep that little grin lit up on my daughter’s face every time we sit down to play games together,” he told the magazine Wired.

The video can be seen here but do take the comments on the page with a pinch of salt. Some players, it seems, can never be enlightened.