The Damsel In Distress wiki last edited by Jagged85 on 03/16/13 08:25AM
View full history
While the "Damsel in Distress" largely has its roots in fairy and folk tales, and had been used as a staple in other media, the first appearance of the concept in video games was implemented by designer Shigeru Miyamoto in the classic 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong, which featured Pauline as the first ever damsel in distress and Mario as her rescuer. Pauline disappeared almost entirely from the Mario franchise after this initial appearance, however, the damsel in distress trope established by Donkey Kong went on to become influential for other games, particularly those developed by Nintendo and Miyamoto.
One of the most notable post-Donkey Kong uses of the concept was in the 1983 arcade game Dragon's Lair where the player was tasked with rescuing Princess Daphne, however, it was not until Super Mario Bros. in 1985 that perhaps the most famous video game damsel in distress made her debut. This game featured a new love interest for Mario, Princess Peach, who was kidnapped by the villain Bowser and had to be saved by Mario. This basic story framework went on to be repeatedly used as the basis for many of the games in the Mario franchise.
The Miyamoto-created Nintendo franchise Legend of Zelda also went on to repeatedly use the concept, with the character Princess Zelda being kidnapped by the villain Ganondorf or otherwise put into a position of peril, and needing the protagonist Link to help rescue her. The concept has also been used in Nintendo's Kid Icarus and Star Fox Adventures. Non-Nintendo games and franchises which make significant use of this trope include King's Quest, Double Dragon, and Meat Boy.
The video game industry has faced criticism from some over an over-abundance of the concept in games, with it being argued that the trope constitutes sexism, as it leaves the female characters disempowered and helpless without the aid of an empowered male. Some efforts have been made to subvert this though. Some video games present strong female characters such as Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider games, while some others present damsels in distress who are somewhat empowered, such as Zelda when she appears as Shiek in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.