Trolls came for rising star Xochitl Gomez. Then she took matters into her own hands
It’s been almost 10 years since Xochitl Gomez was cast as the evil sorceress in the popular video game series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Ten years ago this week, Gomez was just an 11-year-old girl who was trying to make her mark in the video game industry, playing with a virtual reality headset and her Nintendo DS.
She had just discovered the online game, The Legend of Zelda, and had been inspired by the series’ heroine, Link. To build her confidence, she spent time reading about famous video game characters, searching for her own unique talent, and honing her skills in the online game’s multiplayer competition.
“I found a lot of joy, fulfillment, and pride in learning how to play video games,” she says. “There was nothing better than being able to compete with these big names on top of the leaderboards.”
Gomez’s life changed when she started attending the University of Minnesota, where she discovered that she could be anything she chose.
“I realized that there was nothing stopping me,” she says. “I could be whatever I wanted to be. I knew that I didn’t want to be just a game show host. I wanted to be more, but I didn’t know what more I wanted to be.”
As one of only two females attending the university’s Game Developer Conference and Expo, Gomez started to become active in the gaming community and to learn about the female gamers she could meet.
“I was so shy that I used to try to be really clever in my conversations with strangers,” she says. “But then I found some of the most amazing people, especially in the gaming community, who gave me permission to be who I wanted to be.”
The most encouraging figure was a gamer and industry influencer named Alex, who sent her one of his games, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
“I was so overwhelmed by the power of the game and the love and support from Alex that I