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.
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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.