The story of The Last of Us 2 has been very divisive. There’s an ongoing conversation about the incredibly difficult-to-deal-with levels of violence in the game, and what kind of message it sends. Players and fans seem pretty split. Most are generally supportive of the inclusion of more open LGBTQ+ representation in the game which is great. It’s even understandable that players feel torn over how the game handles Ellie and her quest for revenge and its motivations. What isn’t so great is how the more toxic elements in gaming responded.
At a time when more and more people and companies in gaming are being confronted over their abuses and negligence, it may be that The Last of Us 2 has become the best and worst timed release of the year by accident. 2020 was already a dumpster fire of a year, but the reaction of bigots to the game, mostly by harassing staff and VAs (Voice Actors) who worked on the game, just makes things worse.
In response to all the nastiness, Naughty Dog released a statement condemning the “harassment or threats directed toward our team and cast.” The message reads, “their safety is our top priority, but we must all work together to root out this type of behavior and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse.”
Director at Naughty Dog Neil Druckmann posted a small sample of the bigoted, anti-Semitic and generally far-right character of the harassment he has received.
(CW: Violent Language, Anti-Semitism)
Voice actor Laura Bailey, who voiced Abby in the game, also apparently got heat from angry “gamers” over this whole mess. She posted a message of solidarity with Druckmann on his Twitter feed saying, “Any threatening messages I’ve received, I know you’ve been getting tenfold. And still you’ve offered me a shoulder for support.”
And of course, she got multiple death threats over this nonsense as well.
It’s pretty clear that Gamergate never really died. And of course, there are casual defenders to this very troubling news of harassment too. The responses of “the story doesn’t work, you should have [seen] this coming.” are really dumb. This belies the fact that even when criticism is warranted, harassment isn’t, and they’re not the same thing. If you didn’t like the game, that’s fine. Don’t defend horrible garbage like this, otherwise, you’re saying to the victims that your comfort with a video game is more important than their health and safety.
Let’s also remember that these are fictional characters and you don’t have to take them this seriously. Put in other words, it looks trashy to defend harassment and hate over a video game, be better.