Yesterday we brought you the sad news that Robin Williams has passed away. The Legend of Zelda and wider gaming communities are mourning his loss as much as Hollywood is, for Williams was an avid gamer and even worked with his beloved Nintendo to advertise their games in recent years. While mainstream media is currently reflecting on his incredible film, TV and comedy career, we at Zelda Universe wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to a fellow gamer and Zelda fan.
I still remember when I first read about the fact that Robin Williams had named his daughter Zelda after the video game princess. It was in the early 2000s, shortly after I first discovered the treasure trove of Zelda information that existed on the internet. It was on a page of random Zelda trivia, but it stood out to me because Robin Williams was a big part of my childhood and I have fond memories of so many of his movies. So I was actually really impressed to discover that such a well-known celebrity was a big enough fan of Zelda to name his own daughter after the series.
Williams first played the original The Legend of Zelda on the NES back in 1987 along with his then-wife and young son Zachary. He said that he became hooked on the game from the start, spending hours upon hours exploring to make sure that he found every secret passageway and every hidden treasure.
He was still playing Zelda when he found out that he was expecting a daughter, and it was Zachary who suggested naming his new sister Zelda. Williams thought that it was a magical name, and was always quick to correct anyone who may have thought that his daughter Zelda was named after Zelda Fitzgerald (wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom Princess Zelda herself was named after). “No. It’s Zelda for The Legend of Zelda.”
Zelda herself says that it’s a fun name to have and loves being named after a princess, although growing up this wasn’t always the case. In grade school she went through a period where she was teased about her unusual name and wanted to change it, before realizing that kids will be cruel about just about anything and since then she’s loved her name. Williams went on to name his next son — no, not Link! — Cody, after a character in the game Final Fight.
Zelda inherited her father’s love for the series and gaming in general. She grew up playing Nintendo with her parents and brother, and last year stated that she can’t imagine a world without Nintendo. Although she happily plays other games and other systems, “… unlike Nintendo, the Xbox or the Playstation will never be the system I grew up with. It will never be the creator of the first games I ever played, the one’s that made me love gaming. Those are games I still play with my parents, my brothers, my family, and hopefully always will.”
Ocarina of Time was Williams’ all-time favorite game, although he admitted during a Reddit AMA last year that it was the last Zelda game he’d had time to play all the way through. Father and daughter teamed up with Nintendo to help promote Ocarina of Time 3D. They also went on to appear in commercials for Skyward Sword and Four Swords Anniversary Edition. “I’ve been playing Zelda since before you were born,” he jokes to his daughter at one point as they compete in Four Swords. Zelda has also appeared as a guest of Nintendo at several events including guest-hosting the London Symphony of the Goddesses concert in 2011 and at E3 earlier this year.
Apart from Zelda, Williams enjoyed playing Call of Duty, Half-Life, Warcraft, and was particularly fond of puzzle games such as Portal. Zelda said in 2013 that she still played puzzle games with her dad when he wasn’t too busy and it’s one way that they stayed connected. Last year Williams mentioned that he was looking forward to the Xbox One, but hadn’t seen much of the Wii U or PlayStation 4.
He’s also spoken about how easy it is to get addicted to gaming. Many of us, myself included, can identify with this statement: “I remember playing sometimes until all of a sudden I would be like, what time is it? Three o’clock in the morning.” Or when he found himself wanting to play games instead of working. He joked that there needed to be a cyber wing in rehab. More seriously, as a gaming parent himself, he advised other parents that there are times when they’ll have to shut down the games and have no-game times with their children.
Back in 2011, there were people who thought that Williams was only pretending to be a gamer and working with Nintendo in order to appear hip to a younger generation. Yet you don’t have to look hard to see that he was a passionate gamer, talking about them frequently over the years. One gaming family is in mourning right now, and our thoughts are with Zelda Williams and the rest of the family and friends of Robin Williams. Our sincerest condolences for your loss.
If you or someone you know is battling depression or having suicidal thoughts, there is help available. Suicide.org provides a list of international crisis hotlines. Save.org also offers resources for those dealing with depression.