Last of Us Part 2: Creators say diversity in games ‘essential’

Last of Us Part 2: Creators say diversity in games ‘essential’
Written by Chief Editor

Ellie in The Last of Us 2

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The abandoned house is pitch black, with the exception of the dim circle of light protruding from the torch.

As you sneak sneak in front of the moth-bitten sofa, the broken television and the inverted chest of drawers, you suddenly realize that you are not alone.

The sound of a painful screech and a click pierces the silence and, apparently out of nowhere, a curved figure with its limbs at unnatural angles, begins to drag itself towards you.

Now you, or rather Ellie, your character, have a decision to make. Are you trying to kill him or run away?

Born to actress Ashley Johnson, Ellie is one of the most famous characters in the game’s recent history.

Ashley auditioned for the first time in 2012 and tells us: “I am incredibly proud to play this character.

“I love Ellie and I think it’s very important for people to see characters like her in video games.”

“Having a young female protagonist who is gay makes him feel real.”

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Ellie Dina’s love interest is interpreted by Shannon Woodward

The Last of Us Part 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Last of Us, a game that reviews the Metacritic aggregator with 95 out of 100.

It followed the story of the then young girl Ellie and her smuggler Joel.

They traveled across the United States as scientists sought to develop a cure for an infection that turned half the world into zombie-like creatures and led to the collapse of society.

Its end made players and critics talk for a long time and the sequel resumes the story of Ellie and Joel a few years later.

Ashley describes Ellie as “someone who is a little quiet at times and a little shy, but also extremely capable”.

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The “infected” roam the streets and buildings of Seattle in the game

The new game focuses on her and a cast of different characters.

There is a trans person, people of different ethnicity and different sexualities. It’s something that the gaming industry has been criticized for lacking in the past, especially in major versions like this.

Ashley says, “I just think representation in all media is essential, we need it in every form.

“I think things are slowly starting to change.

“I’d like to get to an entertainment point where this isn’t considered risky.”

For director Neil Druckman, the decision was not made for the sake of it: “We didn’t say: ‘We become different just to distinguish ourselves.’ It was more of an option to give us a richer story.”

Neil is also one of the heads of the Naughty Dog development studio and says that for years they have been slowly trying to broaden the reach of the characters in their games.

“Some of the things we did with the first game, like even putting Ellie in the foreground, were a bit controversial. I don’t think it should have been, but it was then.

“I think that’s why we feel more confident that we can draw all these different types of characters, with different backgrounds and identities to give us a variety of storytelling.

“This doesn’t automatically improve the story. But there is something magical when people see each other in games, it broadens our audience and I think it’s important.”

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The game explores the relationship between Joel and Ellie after the widely discussed ending of the original.

However, Neil is also aware that his studio is in a privileged position to be able to take risks: “Naughty Dog has had a series of commercial successes, so it allows us to take risks.

“If The Last of Us Part 2 is successful, and someone wants to make a game with a similar cast, then at least then the marketing teams can look further and be like” Well, it worked “, so it won’t be the thing that keeps people come back. “

The lead to the release was a bumpy ride for the developer.

From the delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, the leak of stories and the criticism of violent trailers.

It is a dark world in which Ellie and Joel live and some reviews of the game have questioned the level of violence.

Neil is not agitated when considering criticisms of his game, saying, “I think if we are telling this story on a different medium, the body count would not be so high.

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“He must be tall because we have to train with the mechanics of how to play.

“What we are looking for is that the way you feel is more important than what your body matters in real life.

“Ellie hasn’t been able to deal with so many people, we know that, but we’re looking for some type of adrenaline and tension.

“I don’t know how we could have created it with just a handful of people you came across, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible and I’d like to see it.

“But we think that the feeling of authenticity is more important than current individual realism.”

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The Last of Us Part 2 was very well received by reviewers with a Metacritic score of 96 before launch.

The game is releasing at a time of major discussions around the world on racial and gender equality.

Neil states that this game reflects that: “It’s based a lot on conflict and tribalism in the real world.

“Things that we unfortunately now see very clear examples of in the United States.

“But they are not new. They have been with us for the whole history of our species and will probably go on.

“I wish other games would explore this sort of thing.”

As for Ashley – an actor who spends a lot of time working in games – he hopes things will continue to change: “It looks like the industry has grown.”

“We have learned things and we must start telling stories that include everyone.

“When you see it and play it, you will see how important it is.”

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