Donkey Kong gets Gender Update from Dad

Dad Challenges Retro Gender Roles By Hacking ‘Donkey Kong’

By Annie-Rose Strasser on Mar 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Mike Mika might be the world’s best feminist dad.

When his 3-year-old daughter discovered that the girl character in Donkey Kong, Pauline, could only sit distressed and wait for a male character to help her, Mika decided to do something about it. So, The Verge reports, he hacked the popular game to make Pauline a functional character, and the male character, Mario, became the damsel (or, lord?) in distress:

Thankfully Mika happens to be a competent developer, and after a few late-night hours spent hacking the NES version of Nintendo’s classic, he accomplished the role reversal his daughter had wished for. Mario was now under Donkey Kong’s control, and Pauline was tasked with rescuing the plumber in distress. Following the successful endeavor, Mika shared some details of how he swapped the characters on a YouTube page demonstrating the hack. “I’ve redrawn Mario’s frames and I swapped the palettes in the ROM,” he wrote. “I replaced the M at the top with a P for Pauline.”

Mika uploaded this video on YouTube to demonstrate how it worked:

Technological hacks for thinking about and subverting gender barriers are gaining in popularity. Another father recently did a gender swap for the game Zelda. And a recent invention, a Google Chrome browser extension called “Jailbreak The Patriarchy,” swaps the gender pronouns on websites to show how gender dynamics affect our views of the world.