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The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy #36)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  376 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
With both young and adult gamers as loyal fans, The Legend of Zelda is one of the most beloved video game series ever created. The contributors to this volume consider the following questions and more: What is the nature of the gamer's connection to Link? Does Link have a will, or do gamers project their wills onto him? How does the gamer experience the game? Do the rules ...more
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Published November 1st 2008 by Open Court Publishing Company
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Chloe I'm only about halfway through the collection of essays, so please take that into consideration of my answer to your question.

As with most anthologies…more
I'm only about halfway through the collection of essays, so please take that into consideration of my answer to your question.

As with most anthologies of essays, there are some which are better written than others, as well as some being more interesting to me personally then the rest, but here Zelda, Link and the world of Hyrule are often used as the medium by which philosophy is discussed. It's not a bad way to pose philosophical questions, but if you're looking for dissertations of why Zelda can't just rescue herself...well, that might be in one of the essays, but it would only be one of many...

If you're looking for a way to understand philosophical ideas, this isn't a bad supplimental aide, but you may want a crash course in some of the things they reference in particular essays first, general philosophy ideas, etc. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Debris
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
Ren the Unclean
Aug 13, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
There is no deeper meaning behind Link not existing when the game is turned off. You are reading too much into it.

I am not sure what exactly I expected, but, for the most part, I didn't get it. Most of the philosophical discussions in this book are linked to the Legend of Zelda by the most tenuous of threads, relate the content of the game to philosophy in a way that is so meta that all meaning is lost, or are simply uninteresting.

In this book, Zelda is either being shoehorned into the philosoph
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Of all the pop culture philosophy books I've read so far, this is was the most disappointing. While the philosophy itself was actually well thought out and presented, it had very little, if anything, to do with the Zelda series. Yes the game was mentioned on a regular basis, but every time it's brought up the examples are so generic that you could just as easily have pulled the reference out of a hat. Example: the idea of warping is brought up early on, focusing on journey
Nick Kives
Not really going to rate it. It wasn't really what I hoping for. More of a book that uses things in Zelda to help explain philosophy. I really wanted more of a book that either talked about the philosophy in Zelda or talked about how Zelda and philosophy intertwine.

Just wanted something more than, "It’s About the Journey, not the Destination" and Zelda uses this by making you walk every where.
Salem Al Abdul Jader
This book explains the culture & philosophy of Link's adventure to save the princess Zelda from the evil Ganondorf...
Nathan Albright
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
The Legend Of Zelda And Philosophy: I Link Therefore I Am, Edited by Luke Cuddy

An amusing example of efforts by philosophers to demonstrate the seriousness of pop culture [1], this volume consists of about 20 essays that fill 250 pages of entertaining essays that view the video game series of The Legend of Zelda with a great deal of seriousness. For those who are fond of the series, there are a lot of inside jokes here to be found that show the absurd sense of humor of philosophers who are clear
Jason N.
I'm a big lifelong Zelda fan. Not a must-win-every-game-with-only-three-hearts fan, but I do very much enjoy it. I'm not sure why, as I'm not really much of a "gamer" and never have been. Yet, I've played almost every Zelda game, and beaten several, some multiple times. Something about the story, or the world, or the music, or who knows what pulled me in when I was six and watching that (in retrospect) horrible but charming cartoon series. And I love digging deeper into fantasy worlds like Hyrul ...more
Samuel Ch.
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioteca, phd
It's a shame that I read The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia before this one. It brings nothing new to the table, or at least nothing I thought before.

The first pace of the book is depressing. It takes 50 pages to tell us "Zelda It's only a game". Yes! I know it's only a game and nothing is real, knock it off already! After that it questions the relationship between the character and th player, So when do we talk about the Zelda franchise?

100 pages later, it still talking about videogames cultu
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5 stars for this book. I really enjoyed reading it as I am a huge Zelda fan (thanks again to Ja Ne for this awesome Christmas gift ;-)) but some of the articles weren't to my liking (it's really a thing of personal preference here).
Unfortunately, some of the argumentations in this book went of in a promising way but started to limp and feel superficial. I know, it's a book on a popular game. Nevertheless, I think the arguments should be presented in a logical way that draws the reader into the
Nov 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One quote: "Simplicity is the recurring abstraction through which the community understands the world." -Carl Matthew Johnson

One chapter: "How Can There Be Evil in Hyrule?" by Dwayne Collins

One person: Friedrich Nietzsche

One theme: Existentialism (underlying)


Truth be told, this is somewhere in the 3-4 range for me. I thought I had a fair grasp of The Legend of Zelda series, but I am exposed. How could I think that someone who played less than half the games in the series would understand it p
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gamers with a passing interest in philosophy (but not enough to get a degree in it)
Don't be fooled by the title - this is primarily a book about philosophy, not the Zelda series. That's not to say the book doesn't contain the expected intersection of the two, merely that it skews hard toward the academic perspective.

This book contains some articles I really enjoyed and some I found absolutely awful. This reaction was likely due to my education and experiences - a lot of older philosophy has been superseded by modern science, so reading arguments predicated upon these outdated
Gaelan D'costa
Most of the essays were pretty decent high-school-level essays that used Zelda mechanics to introduce you to a variety of philosophy textbook topics. The books didn't really pick apart Zelda all that deeply, but it was more of the authors' intention to use Zelda as a springboard into philosophy rather than critique Zelda itself.
For the most part, the essays were pretty good, minus one poorly-researched one which happened to make long-renounced accusations against Nietzsche re: his supposed anti-
Phillip Davis
Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is, I hope to god, meant to be funny. I can barely make sense of anything past the first chapter (which actually had some decent theories on why we feel emotionally about art). I'm a fan of the Zelda franchise, though I could hardly be call hardcore. But even if I live and breathed the games, I would be ashamed for this book to speak for my game. It gives off the feeling of a ten year old trying to tie everything he hears to a few minuscule tid-bits of knowledge that he acquired throug ...more
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To say I was excited for this book is a gross understatement. I love everything concerning the Legend of Zelda franchise and, to see it applied to a serious field of study really piqued my interest. Unfortunately, upon reading this, I was met with a haphazard, poorly-edited collection of essays. I plowed through it and tried to love it (I really did), but the amount of inaccuracies and lack of depth with the video game made this seem more like a cash grab than an actual look into the philosophy ...more
Ceylan Soylemez
Dec 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, educational
As a Zelda fan I decided to read this book (and because of the pun "I Link Therefore I Am"). Unfortunately, the book contains errors both grammatical as content wise (though some are hilarious). There were some articles I enjoyed, but in the end it felt like the authors did not know much about Zelda at all and it comes off as an epic fail. As for the philosophy itself, it was not that bad but it felt generic most of the time.

With poor fact checking and editing, I would rather read "philosophical
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall, this book was good. The individual authors wrote, for the most part, insightful articles about a series that was never truly meant to picked apart so philosophically. The philosophy itself is good. However, some of the knowledge of the writers about the actual series is occasionally lacking. Most wrote about only one game in the series, which is fine, but sometimes when they make generalizations about the series, and the way the games connect, they lack the understanding I would expect.
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
''What would we gain if our virtual spaces required the same amount of time and effort to get to know as the real world, if the world of Zelda stretched endlessly in all directions or if a chessboard had an infinite number of squares? Our virtual spaces, whether we are talking about World of Warcraft or The Settlers of Catan, scale down reality so we can admire it, study it, and shake it up like a snowglobe.''
Mark James
Broad in philosophical concept, satisfactorily demonstrated via the wonderful world of Hyrule. Still, nothing of a game changer (pun intended), but a definite read for anyone who is a fan of zelda as well as the wonderful pursuit of philosophy. Additionally, while I've never disagreed, there was some solid commentary regarding the legitimacy of video games as an art form.
Bradley Carter
This series is a very good way for people to get introduced with a variety of philosophical concepts. However, its focus is on breadth, not depth, and additional specialized reading is required to gain a full understanding of anyone of the topics introduced. Overall, I really enjoyed it, buts it is only the first step in a journey.
Jan 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, if not extremely thought-provoking. Drawing connections from Hegel and Hume to space theory and feminism, the essays cover a lot of ground without ever moving away from short colloquial musings. Worth a read just to see if one of the writers has made a connection between Zelda and your favorite theory!
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zelda and Critical Thinking in one place at last ! For anyone that has ever wondered , who or what link is , the Timelines of the Zelda Series or a look at video games as art works this book is for you .
Paul Huber
it's a cool idea but did not live up to my hype. some parts were cool but overall it repeated itself a lot, was very vague at lots of parts and some of the authors seemed they had never actually played zelda
Lara Richardson
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While chintzy at times (as is to be expected) it actually had many, if not most of the articles more about the meta aspects of video game playing...leading me to wonder if those may have been better suited for a separate book, rather than one specifically designated for Zelda.
Tovah McDonald
This book felt more like basic philosophy shoved into a game than a game eloquently philosophized. Remove a few words, replace with "game" "Link" and "Zelda" and you have a textbook converted into a paperback. Extremely disappointing.
Diana Welsch
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Not as good as I hoped. It was trying to be scholarly, but didn't quite make it. Didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nice book. Not a zelda book but a philosophy book. Very creative and informative. Sure did widen my understanding of philosophy. I'm still sad and directionless in life after reading this book.
The fact that this book even exists in print gives it five stars.
Bryce Needham

It looks like a interesting read. I'll be sure to try it out! Marked as to read!!!!
Sean Rabun
I honestly couldn't finish it. Though I really wanted to like it. It was just so dull and dry and subjective... would rather have just spend the time playing a Zelda videogame...
fantastic read. it's great from a purley philosophical standpoint, as well as from just being a Zelda fan. this book was incredible.
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