Naughty Dog: Who cares what a character's sexual identity is?

The Last of Us game director Bruce Straley says, "A good character is a good character" regardless of sexual identity.

This post contains spoilers about The Last of Us: Left Behind.

In an emotional scene from The Last of Us: Left Behind, main character Ellie kisses her female friend Riley. Does this mean she is gay or bisexual? "Who cares?" game director Bruce Straley says.

"It's like 'who cares?' A good character is a good character and that's what we're after," Straley told GameSpot in a new video interview conducted by editor Tom McShea.

Also in our interview, Straley and Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann challenged the notion that AAA games like The Last of Us are overwhelmingly played by males.

"It turns out that's not very true," Druckmann said. He and Straley said for The Last of Us, the audience was around 60 percent male and 40 percent female. It's not clear where those numbers came from. We've reached out to Naughty Dog for further comment.

"We went out of our way to make [Ellie] the most capable and independent and feisty person that she could be" -- Bruce Straley

Also in the interview, Straley discussed the reaction Naughty Dog has received regarding Ellie playing a major role in The Last of Us after the developer's most recent games (Uncharted and Jak & Daxter) featured male leads.

"I think the reception's been great and we never set out to really make a statement so much as maybe play with tropes and make a super capable character," Straley said. He said the common generalization about Ellie was that her character would only be featured in escort missions. But Naughty Dog went to great lengths to demonstrate that Ellie is a strong and independent person, Straley said.

"We went out of our way to make her the most capable and independent and feisty person that she could be," he said. "It's the contrast with Joel--he's resistant and reluctant to let somebody in and so you needed that contrast; you needed somebody banging on the door emotionally, physically, and capably--and also to win over not only Joel but the players. We wanted to make sure that players felt like 'Ellie is awesome."

Straley was quick to point out that Naughty Dog didn't have an agenda in place when creating Ellie, but said he's encouraged all the same that people are responding so positively to her.

"It's not an agenda but by all means, we're happy that people resonate with the character and we're happy that it does make a statement," Straley said.

The Last of Us: Left Behind, the first single-player expansion Naughty Dog has ever made for any game, is available today on PlayStation 3. You can see our full interview with Straley and Druckmann below.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

1006 comments
RomeSC
RomeSC

There was no need to involve the sexuality of a 13 year old in any way. To do so so blatently, when it felt so forced and out of place, and to make it homosexual, is purely liberal agenda at work in yet another form of media. I'm surprised the kiss wasn't followed by a ringing endorsement for obamacare.

Also, naughty dog saying that Ellie was made homosexual because they wanted to make a strong independent and fiesty character is a very prejudice statement. What, a girl can only be independent and strong and fiesty if she doesn't have romantic attractions to men? Heterosexuality would imply Ellie is weak, dependent and complacent? Or she couldn't be strong etc without exploring sexuality at all?Unbelievable. Bad form naughty dog. Putting blatent liberal agenda in the only dlc to the best game of its generation. It can't be enough to enjoy a nice friendship on screen, it has to be sexualized?

bluefox755
bluefox755

The romantic angle seemed really contrived, almost uncomfortably so, as if pandering to journalists. Didn't feel organic at all. The story was quite engaging, then it went for a brief stint of "we need to explore the sexual identity of these little girls." Either way, still a great story, just felt a bit forced.

geosurface
geosurface

Personally I have no problem with gays, transexuals, bisexuals, whatever. I realize that they arrive at that point through no real choice of their own. I believe it is some combination of hormonal imbalance during pregnancy, perhaps something about the environment of early childhood... I don't know. But regardless, it's nothing I would hold against someone.


What does irk me a bit though is how what is both a very rare, and frankly an unfortunate condition (because it does in fact make their life more difficult) is now the subject of SO MUCH damned attention in our society. We have this social justice warrior nonsense where you are going to see more and more games jumping on this bandwagon. Frankly I'm not sure we needed any sort of insight into a 12 year old girl character's sexuality. I thought their relationship was more touching when it was just a close friendship anyway. But who really cares about that particular character or that particular case?


It's not about that. It's about worrying that what was once just a fun pass time (video games and video game journalism) is going to get increasingly weighed down with a bunch of this politically correct nonsense where everyone becomes a bean counter about "oh are there enough characters of color? oh are we perpetuating unrealistic body standards?" etc etc...


I hate nothing more in this world than liberal, PC, social justice BS. And good lord does it have a strangle hold on our culture right now. Once upon a time our society understood that some things are normal, some things are not. We can have sympathy and kindness for those who are essentially biological glitches, but we do not need to center our entire culture around constantly thinking about them. We are hearing about these rare exceptions FAR MORE than is normal.

bodhee
bodhee

Who is this Eddie makuch and why does everyone one of his lame articles have to do with gender politics? Gamespot is a gamers website. Give me a break with the agendas guy.

vadagar1
vadagar1

people are people 


if the character is written well it wont matter

jigar7
jigar7

I don't get this... why the pointless sexist debate. If the gameplay/story is good, people will buy... Look at the successful tomb raider reboot... or AC4... I played both... they were very good.. Remember Me & Aveline DLC... they were both average... I bought them none the less... in the end... doesn't matter if the lead is male or female... or if the devs make a sausage fest game or an all out lesbian game... I'll buy them as long as the story/gameplay is great... Period.

Oh... I just hope people don't bring in religion into all these controversies... idiots! I pity the people who actually judge the game on the sex of the lead character... get a life!

ShadowNeverDies
ShadowNeverDies

So then why would you put a scene like that in the game, obviously it was for a reason. I'd laugh if Naughty Dog basically comes out and says man we were just making a zombie game, you guys are reading way too much into our story...we are big fans of the Walking Dead. Like they could just troll their own audience lol. Yeah we based the character of Nathan Drake off Brendan Fraser in the Mummy movies, yep that's who inspired us.

StephenSays
StephenSays

Oh Tom is doing the interview.  Does anyone see the irony in this.

Great interview though Tom.  Never thought i would say that?  Tom and great in the same sentence. 

StephenSays
StephenSays

Like with the Sony and Microsoft you must pick a team and hate the other team.  If you for whatever reason decide to switch teams (ex.  360 to PS4)  You mush do so while screaming at the top of your lungs that "I am switching teams"  Death to the Other Team.

.

Are we clear.

.

So seriously what is her identity, and did the other girl like it?

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

Apparently you care Naughty Dog, since you went out of your way to include jailbait lesbianism in your game.

OpalDragon
OpalDragon

Well obviously if you're religious and don't even own a game console, of you do ... a lot.

gufberg
gufberg

Who cares? Well the crazed misandrist-fascists at tumblr probably cares.

Kiigora_LoP
Kiigora_LoP

The things that qualify as news these days.

nazgoroth
nazgoroth

Right. let me just clarify this so people don't lose track.

if i'm correct my comment (this very one) will be post 1001 on this page. (unless someone posts something while i'm typing this.)

Which means we'll have 1001 comments, of people defending homosexuality (which i am fine with by the way). People being completely bloody retarded. And people downright displaying their stupidity in a incoherent mix of bigotry and religious fanaticism.

1001 comments....

Over a 1 second virtual kiss...

Wtf is wrong with you people?! There... had to get that off my chest.

P.s. Great game.

RussianMeatClob
RussianMeatClob

None of this matters because at the the end they all turn into mushrooms.

eddieham13
eddieham13

I guess there aren't as many bigots in the last of us world than there are in this comment section.

keviac
keviac

Anyone else think its funny that the actress Ellen Page (who's likeness this game totally stole, not that it matters) Just came out recently? ironic or FATE

eddieham13
eddieham13

Ugh loads of bigoted morons in the comment section here. It's just as bad as the people on YouTube.


I always assumed that the majority of gamers where open minded mostly quite intelligent. Evidently this is not the case. There  appears to be a huge number of uneducated, unintelligent, sociopathic "people" here. 

toyo75
toyo75

Video game enthusiasts actually welcome elements of sexuality, religion, and cultural & racial diversity since these factors enrich a video game's plot.

Of course it all depends on how well these elements are tastefully integrated within the game.

Blashbuck
Blashbuck

@geosurface  Dude.

There are probably literally over a million things that do a worse job of forcing sexuality adversity down your throats. This? This is a story based video game with a relationship between two characters that had one goddamn kiss. 

Not Ellie getting a stereotypical lesbian haircut and having a full make out session with riley.


torreth1
torreth1

@geosurface I dont know. Its not really common in games to have the issue come up at all. Even if it comes up in average conversation far more than it occurs in nature its probably because its far more common than people want to admit for obvious reasons i.e. the stigma.I say "Who cares" if thay ad it in there or not. The average male population that have had a Homosexual experience in their life is at 35% according to a new poll.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@bodhee You must be new to the site. At least 75% of Eddie's articles are BS, but I don't remember one that had to do with gender. Then again, my memory is shit and he has written a lot of articles, and there are seemingly more and more of these gender based(or should I say catering to the feminists) articles coming out nowadays. I guess if you whine enough you will get heard. That being said, I'm playing through Tomb Raider right now and I have pretty much forgot that Lara is a female. And that goes with all games and real life. If you just focus on the person instead of what's on the outside then you may be focusing on the wrong things.

feleas
feleas

@vadagar1  unless it's on the internet then the flaming begins.

armanmatevos
armanmatevos

@jigar7  Yah definitely. I don't get why people aren't more tolerant. We should tolerate and respect everything and everyone. Except religion. Being religious makes you, without a question, a bad person.


Good work!

kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@jigar7 Because people with strong religious convictions are worst then people with low moral character? Or is moral character to be a popular vote?

I sense a new bigotry growing.

larkin-54
larkin-54

@Vidpci  its an injustice, if 2% of the population cant get married or cant do every single thing every other person can thats  a big issue, because while 2% may seem small that is in fact 6 million people you are throwing out with the bath water. For what? because you cant bother to care?

joequincy0788
joequincy0788

@Vidpci  I'm glad to see you're in the 83% of people who just make up statistics! We need more like you!

Aspire85
Aspire85

@nazgoroth  Very true. Seems like some missed the headline in the article. Who cares?


I know me posting this comment shows I care to some degree, but it's nice to know I'm not alone.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@keviac They used the likeness of the mocap/voice actress who they hired. Ellen Page's got a monopoly on petite semi-androgyny? I think not

iskaroth
iskaroth

@eddieham13  eddieham is a perfect example of "normal", "intelligent and "open minded" person - extremely hostile to anyone who doesnt share it's views and morals, Yay tolerance! 

kirbymaster5
kirbymaster5

@eddieham13 The majority of the people non-casually playing video games care about the actual core concept of a game, not hot political topics that developers shove into their games like they have a bet to see who can do it the most. 

Take Bioshock Infinite for example, a game universally praised by the media because it merely looks good and tackles topics like racism, nationalism, and parallel worlds to give off the veneer of depth. Ask any video gamer worth their salt what they thought about it on the other hand and the answer will always be the same; a terribly dumb-down game that doesn't build upon its the foundation of its predecessor at all, but tears it all down.

This is why we are mad, not because we downright oppose the social topics at hand (although a good chunk do I'm sure), but because our hobby has become the outlet for them. I just want to play good games. 

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

@toyo75  When not forced? Exactly.

They can enrich an experience.

Or they can sink an experience.

armanmatevos
armanmatevos

@feleas @vadagar1  Unless people want more women and minorities in games. Then it doesn't matter if the character is a well written, white straight male.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@armanmatevos I hope you know you completely contradicted yourself with that comment. I would like to think you are trolling, I don't care for religion at all, but people believing in what they want doesn't make them a bad person.

feleas
feleas

@armanmatevos @jigar7  never made me a bad person I think. live up to your morals and you lead a good life. God prefers those who think for themselves.

larkin-54
larkin-54

@kenundrum7 @jigar7  morals have always been dictated by society the bible hasnt changed in 2000 years but acceptable morality sure has.

On top of that people with low moral character can are also religious, in fact many of them are (at least in this country) by attempting pass laws banning same sex marriage or banning evolution in schools etc...

Pressing your faith and morality on others by attempting to legislate religious morals in a country where law is separate from religion is indicative of low moral character. 

eddieham13
eddieham13

@AncientDozer @toyo75  Yep, and this was added nicely. It wasn't overdone at all. Very cute and gut wrenchingly sad at the same time considering you know how it ends.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@armanmatevos LOL. Sorry about that.Religion is BS, but we can't fault people for believing what they want. I know you can't disagree there. And I should have  seen that coming. I guess I'm a bit tired. Time for bed.

armanmatevos
armanmatevos

@feleas @armanmatevos @jigar7  Sorry feleas, I was being sarcastic. I'm not religious, but even I'm offended that it's become ok to blatantly insult people for their beliefs. 

snakebite6x6x6
snakebite6x6x6

@larkin-54 @kenundrum7 @jigar7


Yet, there are many groups who go out of their way to repress religious people everyday...and nothing at all is said. We had one try to remove the christmas tree from the local elementary school up here...because they found it offensive.


It's become a popular trend for people to shit on religion and anybody who believes. 


It's sickening to watch them go about talking about how they are against religion because they don't want it shoved down their throats...but at the same time...they have no problem shoving their hate down the throats of others. 


And before anybody asks, I am a non-believing heathen myself...but I don't need to believe in god to respect other peoples beliefs.


As for your post, about religious people being of low moral character...is about as ignorant a statement as they come...



kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@larkin-54 @kenundrum7@jigar7 Just because people claim to be religious does not mean they follow  the source book of that religion. And seeing something wrong with same sex marriage is not low moral character.


If Satan is misleading mankind, as the Bible shows, then you would expect man's law to bend to allowing sexual perversions.

Man's laws do not translate to high moral character. God's laws do.