What does it mean to be human

AT final scene of the 2013 game Last of usprotagonist Joel Miller (Troy Baker) and his adopted daughter Ellie (Ashley Johnson) have settled down after fighting for survival against zombies and the militant group Fireflies.

In 2020, players were thrown into the continuation of the game, The Last of Us Part 2 (TLOU2) where Joel and Ellie are now at odds with each other for an unknown reason.

Less than two hours into the game, an unknown militia group led by Abby Anderson (Laura Bailey) arrives from Washington DC and brutally murders Joel.

Players and fans alike have been taken aback by the death of Joel, a fan-favorite character who has been regarded as one of the best written and played characters in video game history for the past seven years.

Needless to say, gamers were foaming at the mouth and being as venomous as the Star Wars fandom, they decided to start a figurative war.

However, the anger didn’t start on the day TLOU2 was released; it started almost three months ago.

In the media

In early April 2020, and over the course of a month, snippets of the game began to leak before snowballing into spoiled highlights.

On the Internet, these rumors (some of which were true and most of which were false) spread like wildfire.

A major point of contention in the growing outrage was how the leaks revealed that TLOU2 would “change perspective” by having players play as Abby, Joel’s killer, in the middle of the game.

To add fuel to the fire, at some point rumors (false) began to circulate that Abby was a transgender woman solely because of her muscular build.

When the game was finally released, the toxicity became so radioactive that the point of no return was passed. Fans who were outraged by developer Naughty Dog’s creative choices when it came to the leaked story decided to boycott the game.

Others who bought the game entered it ready to hate it.

Another group in the middle of the Venn diagram of the previous two decided to watch other players play it live or on Youtube and ruin the game for everyone else.

And almost all of them “blew up the reviews” of the game page on Metacritic with negative ratings.

While Covid-19 was toxic on the outside, gamers were toxic on the inside.

Not once during this mass hysteria did anyone in any of these groups venture to play the game fully before judging it.

Forward and out

Although protests against the game were deafening, it was only a small part of the large base of players who completely completed TLOU2.

While fans and critics outside of the aforementioned groups have overwhelmingly praised the game, criticism has still been directed at certain parts of TLOU2, such as the pacing when the “point of view shift” occurs, or the sequence of events, but the discourse on this front was much healthier, compared to toxicity at the other end of the spectrum.

In addition, upon release, TLOU2 sold four million copies in its release week, the fastest of any PlayStation 4 exclusive, and currently holds the most Game of the Year awards of any video game ever made.

Ironically, despite the game and its creators taking (and still taking) hits, Naughty Dog announced on June 19 this year that TLOU2 has sold over 10 million copies.

For all intents and purposes, TLOU2 was a risky game for Sony to publish, and a risk for Naughty Dog to design, write, and create knowing how gamers behave.

It’s a risk that has apparently paid off thanks to the enduring legacy the game has forged by introducing the TLOU remake in the upcoming game. The Last of Us Part I for PlayStation 5 this September, as well as an upcoming HBO TV adaptation starring The Mandalorian as well as Game of Thrones star Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie.

However, the question remains: while Ellie ultimately got over the death and trauma of losing her father, did gamers do the same two years ago?