Remember that Wind Waker hack I told you about recently, where a young girl’s father — who’d been changing Link’s gender on the fly for his daughter while reading it to her — decided to make things simpler for himself by hacking the rom script?
Another father was asked by his daughter if she could play one of her favorite games, the original Donkey Kong, as Pauline instead of Mario. So, he hacked the rom (very probably from the WiiWare version, judging by the 2010 copyright), editing all the frames of animation for both Mario and Pauline to switch their roles.
Doesn’t change the functionality of the game at all, just the aesthetics. In such simple games, only in a society that prescribes strongly-defined gender roles would the default hero be a man and the default “damsel” be a woman. And yet, in an alternate universe where this was released instead of the one with Mario (or Jumpman) as the hero, I wager it would not have sold as well because video games, even back then, were already being pigeonholed as a “guy thing”.
Who knows, though. Maybe, MAYBE, inverting the Damsel In Distress trope, making the girl the one with agency and the guy the one forced to helplessly stand at the top of the building with Donkey Kong, might have been a blow struck for equality and perhaps the video game industry would have turned out much different. Perhaps.
Thanks to the dozen or so folks who kept pointing this out!