Review: The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy

The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: I Link Therefore I AmThe Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: I Link Therefore I Am by Luke Cuddy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got this book as a gift from one of my dearest friends, Patty van Delft. We’re both huge Zelda nerds and we also like to get philosophical every now and then. I perhaps a bit more than she does. I really liked the idea that was presented by the book. How can philosophy be “linked” (pun intended) to a video game series such as The Legend of Zelda? The answer is simple. It can, because Nintendo created an entire universe for us, with its own rules and its own culture.

When I started reading this book, I was delighted by most of the content. The book consists of a total of twenty different essays in which The Legend of Zelda is used to explain certain concepts in philosophy. This is very nice, because it gives you the opportunity to read one essay every now and then, which is exactly what I did.

At the same time, it’s also the book’s biggest downfall, because the quality of the essays differs quite a bit. Not to mention the writing style. Especially essays 8 and 9 (“The Hero of Timelines” and “Linking to the Past: Zelda is a communication game”) were ones I had a lot of trouble getting through, mainly because it was mostly about semantics of dialogue and conversation. Not a field of philosophy I’m particularly interested in.

The ones I enjoyed best were the more metaphysical ones, where we delved deep into who Link exactly is to us as the player and whether or not he has a free will, and if we even have a free will. Also ethical essays like “How can there be evil in Hyrule?” were very entertaining.

All in all I enjoyed this book, with the exception of a few essays. Personally I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that most of them were a bit of an “entry level” philosophy piece. So I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in philosophy, but hasn’t delved too deep into the rabbit’s hole. I think I prefer my philosophy a bit meatier.

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