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The Last of Us Part II Controversy Will Not Go Away

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BY July 9, 2020
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When leaks hit online message boards for The Last of Us Part II, fans were livid. In a lot of ways, The Last of Us Part II controversy seemed familiar. A portion of the community who enjoys gaming isn’t always the most progressive, thoughtful, or open-minded. Unfortunately, there are several different issues many have with the game that is turning ugly. Fans question the actual narrative itself. Likewise, more gross, hateful individuals are questioning plot designs, diversity, and inclusion. The game’s great reviews from journalists are being undercut in a big way that does not match discourse on the games. So, what’s actually happening? Let’s talk about what we know.

The Last of Us Part II Controversy – Why Are People Upset?

Heads up: there will be some spoiler content in this discussion. If you don’t want to see plot points regarding The Last of Us Part II controversy, then maybe check out this piece on Call of Duty Season Four instead.

Naughty Dog Image Credit: Naughty Dog

The massive bulk of angry fans raging against TLOU2 are upset about something relatively valid. There are some things people are upset about that are just downright mindless. The calls for the game’s voice actors to somehow be punished for working on the game comes to mind immediately. Overall, the main group of people making that sort of noise are the minority. Still, they’re a good place to start as we discuss what’s happening with this game.

Discriminative LGBTQ+ Criticism from Fans

I’m not interested in talking about this particular controversy more than I have to. For starters, people are simply upset that the game emphasizes LGBTQ+ storylines and characters. Ellie and Dina’s relationship is a main factor in the game. Likewise, a character struggles with their identity in a very real way throughout the story. These things are always going to upset people who refuse to believe in a diverse world. Representation matters and an ugly side of gaming’s fandom is rearing its head talking about how these characters are pandering or unnecessary. Newsflash: LGBTQ+ people exist and their stories matter.

The Last of Us Part II Controversy Over Character Death

The Last of Us Part II Controversy Image Credit: Naughty Dog

In the early leaks of the game, we learned Joel dies in front of Ellie. That enraged many fans who enjoyed the dynamic of Joel and Ellie from the first game. The new character, Abby, is played by Laura Bailey, who is now receiving death threats and angry messages on Twitter. It’s not uncommon to see people lash out like this about entertainment. Still, it’s deeply upsetting. The narrative choice to kill Joel is a complicated one. A huge part of the original games is the dynamic between the main characters. The team at Naughty Dog knows this. They still chose to take this path because they have an intended goal for the game. It’s not always going to be what people like, but they are the creators. Nevertheless, death threats are never okay, and neither is wishing harm on people for doing their job.

Other Areas of Debate and Anger

The Last of Us Part II Controversy Image Credit: Naughty Dog

A few other things are making the game highly debated as well. For one, the violence in the game caught a lot of people off guard. This is a gritty, nasty experience. It’s a good example of a sequel topping the first game. The time you spend playing as Abby is also highly controversial. Some of the more repulsing fans don’t love that a female lead stars in nearly half of the game. Likewise, they don’t like that you play as Joel’s killer, who happens to be a woman. Fans need to accept these elements as game development choices. We see a subsect of comic fans, movie fans, TV fans, and gaming fans consistently outcry the presence of women in media. It’s getting old and it’s not going away. It’s tough to think of a time where public outcries turned this hostile.

Critics liked the game. Naughty Dog stands by the game. Upset fans are turning this into something much bigger than it should be. As much as I love games, they’re just that: games. Online discourse can always turn ugly, but this is going too far. I don’t know who needs this reminder, but the things we find entertaining happen because of other humans. People, who like us, enjoy movies, TV, games, and comics. The hostility towards creators is unwarranted and wrong. If this game upsets people that much, then they don’t have to play it. Hopefully, we’ve seen the worst of The Last of Us Part II controversy, but something tells me it’s not going to go away.

Thanks for reading Comic Years for all things gaming, comics, and pop culture.

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Taylor loves to play video games in his spare time. He has two degrees in Political Communication and wrote his thesis on Marxism and the exploitation of college athletes. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards. He’s always got headphones in, and he’s a diehard Cubs fan.

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