Naughty Dog, the studio behind the critically-acclaimed The Last of Us 2 PS4 game, has strongly condemned harassment and even death threats received by those involved in making the game.
The company’s developers and voice actors have been subject to sickening abuse from those upset by the game’s widely-heralded decision to break boundaries and challenge norms in terms of character representation.
The presence of characters from typically under-represented communities has apparently deeply angered some ‘fans’ who’ve seen fit to hurl abuse at those involved with making the hit title.
Actor Laura Bailey, who provides the voice of Abby, recently posted screenshots of the abuse she received from online trolls, one of which chillingly reads: “I’m going to find where you live and slaughter you.”
Warning: Disturbing language ahead
The game’s director Neil Druckmann – who will have been a driving force behind the decision to be more inclusive when writing the narrative – also received transphobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic abuse at the hands of people claiming to be upset by the creative direction of The Last of Us 2.
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Now Naughty Dog has posted its own statement decrying the abuse, saying it will prioritise the safety of the cast and crew moving forward.
The firm wrote: “Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast. Their safety is our top priority, but we must all work together to root out this type of behaviour and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse.”
Warning: Minor plot spoilers ahead
The Last of Us 2 features two female protagonists, one with a particularly muscular physique, a same-sex relationship, and a transgender character. However, perhaps more important than the presence of these characters is the way they are presented, with the studio avoiding some of the familiar stereotypes.
That’s something our own Jade King was keen to point in a recent opinion piece, calling the presentation of the Lev character “refreshing” and praising the normalised depiction of other issues pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.
She added: “Naughty Dog’s presentation of lesbian, bisexual and transgender identities isn’t perfect, partly because of small mistakes and a realistic, messy portrayal of how such people would exist in a world torn asunder. Flaws aside, it champions queer voices in a way no game of this calibre has done before, and The Last of Us 2 isn’t afraid to silence the bigoted minority who stand against them.”