Naughty Dog Responds to The Last of Us Sexism Claims

StewShearerOld

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Naughty Dog Responds to The Last of Us Sexism Claims



Directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckman were surprised by claims of sexism in The Last of Us.

While The Last of Us' protagonist is easily the character of Joel, the arguable star of the show is his younger protégé Ellie. Skillfully brought to life by actress Ashley Johnson, she possessed a spirit and likability that helped lend weight to some of the game's more dramatic (and traumatic) moments. She also exhibited no small capacity for ass-kickery, aiding Joel and holding her own in more than a few dangerous situations over the course of the game.

Ellie's character for some, however, was still a bit too much of a damsel-in-distress, a criticism that confused the game's creators at Naughty Dog. "We were surprised by some of the criticism of our use or execution of the female roles inside of the game," said Bruce Straley, game director for The Last of Us. "I think we did an extraordinary job of creating strong characters - men, women, black, white, gay straight. We're just trying to create completely fleshed-out characters." For Neil Druckman, the creative director behind the game, such criticisms strike him as being particularly odd. "There have been a lot of articles pointing to the positive aspects of the women and other characters," said Druckman. "I think that there's a little bit of a sexism valley, for lack of a better term, like the uncanny valley. The more progress we make, the more those problems stand out."

Personally, we're on the side of The Last of Us being pretty pro-women, overall. Setting aside the fact that you get to play as a very capable Ellie at one point, the game also boasts characters like Tess and Marlene, both of whom are strong, take-charge women. Conversely, you could make the argument that while survivalist Joel may be the physically stronger of the two, Ellie exhibits far more emotional and moral courage over the course of the game than he ever does.

Source: GamesBeat







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Phrozenflame500

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StewShearer said:
"There have been a lot of articles pointing to the positive aspects of the women and other characters," said Druckman. "I think that there's a little bit of a sexism valley, for lack of a better term, like the uncanny valley. The more progress we make, the more those problems stand out."
Pretty much this. As equality gets closer, we start to see very minor issues that weren't prevalent before. I would go so far to say that people whining about how sexist The Last of Us is is a good sign.
 

Miyenne

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I saw no sexism in the game at all.

Ellie is a 14 year old girl. Of course Joel is stronger than her physically. And he wants to protect her as he believes he failed to do for his own daughter. I'd want to protect Ellie too. No child should have to go through what she goes through.

I just... Sometimes my gender makes me wish I was a guy.
 

Zhukov

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Dec 29, 2009
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Waht?

Really?

She's fourteen years old, probably fifteen by the end of the game. How much of an independent badass is a skinny teenager supposed to be? Hell, throughout the game, both in cutscenes and gameplay, she is demonstrably willing and able to shoot, shank and brick whichever hapless motherfuckers get in her way.

Hell, the one time she gets anywhere near damsel territory, she promptly frees herself, racking up an extensive bodycount in the process. By the time Joel arrives, it's all over but for the screaming.

I'll be the first to admit the industry has an issue when it comes to depicting females, but Ellie is not an example of such.
 

shadowmagus

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Phrozenflame500 said:
StewShearer said:
"There have been a lot of articles pointing to the positive aspects of the women and other characters," said Druckman. "I think that there's a little bit of a sexism valley, for lack of a better term, like the uncanny valley. The more progress we make, the more those problems stand out."
Pretty much this. As equality gets closer, we start to see very minor issues that weren't prevalent before. I would go so far to say that people whining about how sexist The Last of Us is is a good sign.
No. No its not. It's just dumb. If anything it cheapens any actual arguments because instead of pointing it out as a positive, you turn it into a negative, and by doing that you make people who may have been on the fence about your argument begin to think that maybe you're just making noise. Which is what this type of criticism is, noise.

Ellie was a good, well-written, and solid character and should be held up as a model upon which to build future female characters not something to nitpick and scream about.
 

Joseph Harrison

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Miyenne said:
I saw no sexism in the game at all.

Ellie is a 14 year old girl. Of course Joel is stronger than her physically. And he wants to protect her as he believes he failed to do for his own daughter. I'd want to protect Ellie too. No child should have to go through what she goes through.
Basically this, Ellie is not as strong as Joel on the physical side because she is a 14 year old girl and he's considerably older and larger. It wouldn't be any different if Ellie were a boy because she still wouldn't be able to fend off bandits twice her size. Also implying that Ellie has to be physically stronger than Joel in order to be a good character implies that if you're not physically strong then you're not a good person and physical strength is the only thing people should aspire to have, which is wrong.
 

Legion

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Phrozenflame500 said:
StewShearer said:
"There have been a lot of articles pointing to the positive aspects of the women and other characters," said Druckman. "I think that there's a little bit of a sexism valley, for lack of a better term, like the uncanny valley. The more progress we make, the more those problems stand out."
Pretty much this. As equality gets closer, we start to see very minor issues that weren't prevalent before. I would go so far to say that people whining about how sexist The Last of Us is is a good sign.
I wouldn't, because going too far is just as damaging as not going far enough. Complaining where there is no complaint to be had is more damaging to the stance because it makes people look petty.

As Miyenne pointed out, it makes sense as to why Joel was willing to look after Ellie, and for those who have played the game, it's also pretty obvious that he doesn't always want to. So the idea that it's sexist because "male looks after female" is nonsensical, he doesn't do it just because she is a girl.

People need to learn to pick and choose their "battles", because if you attack everything, you just look like you have a chip on your shoulder and people will stop taking you seriously. People like this do more damage to peoples perception of women than fictional characters in games.
 

Ukomba

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This complaint is becoming so common, especially showing up on this site, that my eyes just glaze over and I have a powerful urge to close the tab.
 

Canadamus Prime

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People will see sexism, racism, or any other kind of ism you can think of anywhere if they look for it whether it actually exists there or not.
 

TiberiusEsuriens

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StewShearer said:
Ellie's character for some, however, was still a bit too much of a damsel-in-distress, a criticism that confused the game's creators at Naughty Dog. "We were surprised by some of the criticism of our use or execution of the female roles inside of the game," said Bruce Straley, game director for The Last of Us. "I think we did an extraordinary job of creating strong characters - men, women, black, white, gay straight. We're just trying to create completely fleshed-out characters." For Neil Druckman, the creative director behind the game, such criticisms strike particularly odd. "There have been a lot of articles pointing to the positive aspects of the women and other characters," said Druckman. "I think that there's a little bit of a sexism valley, for lack of a better term, like the uncanny valley. The more progress we make, the more those problems stand out."
Exactly what I was thinking. The Woman-in-Distress trope is a very real thing (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6p5AZp7r_Q), but while Ellie is the driving force of the plot she does not exist just for the sake of story. Especially considering the ending of TLoU, she does not fit the trope. She is a fleshed character and story is character driven, not event driven. She is also not in distress; the only part that makes her less capable at any point in time is that she is less experienced at first AND A YOUNG GIRL.
 

baconmaster

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The claims of sexism I saw were "You play as a dude" and "Women are used in Joel's character arc." Because apparently playing as a guy HAS to be sexist, and men and women don't coexist. I guess they also missed the male characters used in Joel's and Ellie's arcs, and the female characters (one shown, one mentioned) in Ellie's.

The feminists complaining about The Last of Us are making a mockery of actual issues
 
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canadamus_prime said:
People will see sexism, racism, or any other kind of ism you can think of anywhere if they look for it whether it actually exists there or not.
bingo. if you look for something, you'll find it, especially when it comes to sexism/racism/etc...

keeping complaints to ACTUAL sexist and demeaning garbage is what needs to happen, otherwise the accusation/argument loses all power when you point the finger at everything.
 

Thaluikhain

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Couldn't tell you off the top of my head, but is it more common to be protecting early teen girls than boys?

Because if it is, games are still leaning to damsel in distress, just with better justification for each individual game. Anyway, it's not any individual game that's at fault, it's the trend.
 

Casual Shinji

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We really should turn each and every game character into a grey, genderless mass so as not to offend anyone. Except ofcourse the grey, genderless masses, but who cares about them, right?
 

Jeyl

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I think the bigger picture here is that regardless of how strong, intelligent and "take charge" the women are in "The Last of Us", Joel is the character who dictates how everything happens. Tess just dies at the first quarter, Marlene is outright murdered by Joel on the possibility that she would go after Ellie, and Joel lies to Ellie about the fireflies. Does she press him further about it? No. She's just like "ok" and we're left with the impression that this is the end and regardless of what Ellie really thinks doesn't matter, because Joel got his way.

All this talk about the women being capable doesn't mean jack if Joel is the only character who decides how things are going to go down, and the way he wants things to go down is essentially a big "fu** you" to every man, woman and child who are still susceptible to this fungus plague.
 

Canadamus Prime

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gmaverick019 said:
canadamus_prime said:
People will see sexism, racism, or any other kind of ism you can think of anywhere if they look for it whether it actually exists there or not.
bingo. if you look for something, you'll find it, especially when it comes to sexism/racism/etc...

keeping complaints to ACTUAL sexist and demeaning garbage is what needs to happen, otherwise the accusation/argument loses all power when you point the finger at everything.
I fairly certain these people don't even know what those words mean anymore they've just become buzzwords synonymous with "something I don't like."
 

Easton Dark

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I've been watching TBFP go through the game and with how far they've gotten so far I'll say... wut? Ellie's fucking awesome, a woman runs a survival group, no scantily-clad characters or panty shots as of yet. I'm not buying the sexism.

I found it weird how every bandit was a 25-something man, but that's kind of believable I guess.
 

Andy Shandy

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Jun 7, 2010
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I have to agree with them about the whole "sexism valley" comment. Whilst there are plenty of valid complaints of sexism (and other isms) that can be levelled at a variety of games, it seems that there are people crying sexism when there is none, and all that does is harm the valid complaints. The tale of the "gamer that cried sexism" if you will.
 

Yarpie

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Damsel in what the fuck now?

Playing through the game I kept reflecting on how Ellie felt fully realized both as a teenager and as a female and that she was acting pretty much as you'd expect a 14 year old girl to act in the situations she was put in given her background. I also felt that the differences between her and Joel, both mentally and physically was what gave the story a lot of weight.

Ellie saves Joel just as many times as he saves her. She saves him from the guy in the hotel after he's fallen off the elevator, she gets Bills car started (basically providing them with an exit from that town), she helps him out of the lab after he's been wounded, she gathers food for him while he's recovering and she gets medicine that enables him to fully heal.

The only times I can remember that she needed saving was when Sam attacked her and the very end of the game (and that one is well and truly up for debate). The only time Joel sets out with the sole purpose of saving her is after she's been captured by David, but she actually manages to get out of that mess on her own with Joel showing up at the very last minute comfort her rather than saving her.

I can usually see where people are coming from with this kind of criticism and many a times I agree, but this is completely uncalled for, and I'm not certain what else they could have done to avoid this criticism. If anything I'd say what happens to the characters in the game is a result of who they are as a person rather than their gender.
 

MCerberus

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Ladies and gentlemen, the evolutionary effect of false-positive pattern recognition. It has a storied history as a companion to humanity...

And now it's gone COMPLETELY MAD.