By Carlos Gomez (aka, The Lost Hylian)
Fresh off the heels of 2019’s E3, I was struck with awe when the teaser for the next installment of the Zelda franchise was shown. The brief trailer was amazing, yet that’s not what sent me into this state of being: instead, it was the reaction of the Zelda fandom that truly sent my brain spinning. If you haven’t seen the fan reactions, they are all over social media. There you will find entire crowds of Zelda fans cheering with utter elation at the reveal. In the midst of this overwhelming excitement, I pondered the question: What is it about the Zelda fandom that makes it so special? No doubt there are as many fandoms as there are platforms to have fandoms about, so what makes Zelda so different? At the onset of this mental exploration, let me be perfectly clear: this blog is not about disparaging any other fandom. In fact, I would assume that many readers like myself are a part of multiple fandoms. Yet for me (and very likely you), there is something special about The Legend of Zelda series.
No doubt each one of us has that favorite, that one game that pushes the nostalgia button like no other. You know which one I mean, right? The one you play that brings back the memories of fighting over the controller with your sibling, or the one you remember rushing home to play after school. For each of us, that may be a different title in the series, yet never forget that in each installment beats the heart of the original.
So, what makes Zelda fans different?
In an effort to answer this question, all we have to do is look at the mythos of the series. I believe to play Zelda, one must subscribe to the idea that someone of humble origins would choose to embody courage and stand up to evil-doers, no matter the odds. I’m not saying that Zelda fans offer the template to create a Utopian society (pottery vandalism would be rampant), nor am I saying that there are no scoundrels amongst the fan base. However, I do see a few common themes amongst the fans.
Zelda fans are fascinated by the wonders of the world. That vision is woven into the series by creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who loved to explore caves and forests as a child. We fans gravitate towards that, thrilled at the idea of seeing something new and wonderful. There is beauty and mysticism in the natural world that the game strives to embody, and we, like moths to a flame, are drawn to this.
Furthermore, the beautiful land of Hyrule inspires creativity with complex puzzles, dazzling scenery, and evocative music. This inspiration floods YouTube with tributes and remixes to beloved songs. It has resulted in podcasts (such as Another Zelda Podcast) and countless social media forums where the like-minded congregate. You can find everything from timeline theories to fan art to cosplay. With just a few easy keystrokes into your Internet search bar, you will be treated to a never-ending supply of corny Zelda memes only a fan would understand.
If you want to see how special the Zelda fandom is, just attend the Symphony of the Goddesses. As I stood waiting in line to be seated, I was jittery and overwhelmed with excitement. I scanned those in front of me and behind, and, in doing so, the realization came over me: something special was about to happen. For the first time in my life, I was completely surrounded by people that had fallen in love with the same franchise that I had. To these people, Zelda was more than just a game; it was a part of them. You could feel it as the orchestra played and the energy of every person in the music hall synchronized to the vibration of the melodies. Truly amazing!
The one thing that seems to stand out most of all, however, is that Zelda fans are a community. Simply put, the love of the game brings people together like the pieces of the Triforce. I can’t even say how many conversations I’ve had simply because I was rocking my Zelda gear or how many times I’ve seen Zelda fans console one another over the loss of family or a fellow fan from the community. The support from fellow Hylians is like nothing I’ve encountered in other communities.
Why are Zelda fans so helpful, so quick to aid those in need?
Well, let’s look at the series itself as a whole. It starts with the silent hero (if you haven’t read Shane’s article on the silent hero, you can check it out here), whom we the player embody. As this hero, we rise from humble origins and out of goodness of heart and courage to step up in the face of insurmountable odds. Perhaps it’s the games inspiring us to do good, or perhaps the games call out to those who already do good works. I know when I was an eight-year-old boy blowing on that original gold cartridge, I believed I could save the world. Zelda fans believe they can make a difference, and, in the end, that is what makes the difference.
Photo source: The Lost Hylian’s Nintendo Switch Share
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. A special shout-out to Legend of Zelda fans on Facebook for your input on this. To you, the reader, I would love to know what you think! Did I just over-fanboy? Or do you feel something special about the Zelda community yourself? If you want to share your thoughts, you can reach me @The_Lost_Hylian on Twitter, thelosthylian on Instagram, or check out my Facebook page, The Lost Hylian.