A month ago, the video game company, Naughty Dog released a gameplay reveal trailer for arguably the most anticipated game at E3: The Last of Us Part II. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here.
Apart from the phenomenal gameplay mechanics and life-like graphics that can be seen in the reveal, copious amounts of fans were avidly discussing the cinematic portion, which displayed a kiss between Ellie and, a new character, Dina. Moreover, this kiss received quite a mixed response with some complaining about the sudden portrayal of a gay Ellie and proclaiming their adamance to not play such an “SJW” centred game. On the other hand, most were overjoyed with the much-needed representation, especially being showcased at an event with such a vast audience.
Now, the first argument seems redundant considering the first game had an attached DLC that was released in 2014 (called Left Behind) that already confirmed Ellie’s sexuality, as it displayed a female love interest for her. Therefore, it’s evident that Naughty Dog didn’t just portray a gay Ellie in this reveal to appease to gay audiences during pride month, because this storyline has been established years ago.
However, although this storyline was established years ago, fans were still extremely happy that Naughty Dog has decided to not just discard that part of Ellie’s identity, as a lesbian, in the new game and to instead celebrate it at such a huge gaming event. In addition, video games (albeit it’s becoming less now with games like Tomb Raider) have always been incredibly male centric, because developers mainly fixated on appeasing to their straight white male audiences, consequently this makes the portrayal of Ellie even more important, as it’s breaking this boundary and the exponential success of the first game shows other developers that creating a female character that isn’t stereotyped based off her identity or gender won’t stop people from playing their games, but instead opens up possibilities to new audiences who will feel seen and represented by a character like this.
Furthermore, the main thing that makes this representation even more incredible is the fact that Ellie being a lesbian isn’t her defining characteristic, it’s simply just a part of her identity that doesn’t change her main personality at all. Ellie still holds the same humorous, empathetic, endearing and strong qualities she had in the first game and that isn’t going to change now that her sexuality is going to be explored further and Naughty Dog has made that abundantly clear with the gameplay reveal. Moreover, further exploring Ellie’s sexuality, and her character in general, in The Last of Us Part II, is vital to so many struggling teenagers, because although her struggles with fighting for her life and food may not align with contemporary teenage struggles, her struggles with her sexuality, loss of loved ones and adamance to keep fighting despite everything will correlate with so many teenagers (and adults) of so many differing cultures.
In conclusion, like many, I trust Naughty Dog with this representation and I trust that they’ll portray it properly without convoluting the main story. Ellie means so much to so many people as does this gameplay reveal, so we just have to wait until a non existent release date to see if Naughty Dog has managed to pull this off successfully.