: Kudos To Naughty Dog For Handling Ellie Correctly

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Kudos To Naughty Dog For Handling Ellie Correctly

It's the best response a developer has ever given to a supposedly controversial event.

When I saw Ellie kiss Riley in the Left Behind DLC for The Last Of Us, I knew the firestorm would begin. It hasn't erupted with as much force as I initially anticipated, but that's partly because Naughty Dog immediately defused the situation with a perfectly timed, perfectly phrased retort:

"Who cares?"

The studio clarified by saying they set out to create a good character, and that's that. Good fictional characters aren't saddled with requirements. They don't have to be any particular age, gender, or sexual orientation. Hence, it's perfectly logical to respond in such a dismissive fashion, because it really doesn't matter. The developer also has no cause to defend itself against accusations of having any sort of social agenda, because people with any artistic sense would simply nod at the events in question:

If you know the story, Ellie kissing Riley makes perfect sense. Ellie, a young girl on the verge of puberty, in a nightmarish world that demands vigilance. Survival isn't romantic and chances are, Ellie would never have developed much in the way of sexuality. Given her age and surroundings, there's a good chance she's pretty hazy on the whole issue; she hasn't had a lot of time to flirt with boys, after all. She hasn't had a lot of time to anything but survive. It's why after kissing Riley, Ellie looked pretty confused and asked, "what do we do know?"

Hers was an impulsive reaction to a friend agreeing to stay. If the character of Ellie were real, she wouldn't be able to tell you exactly why she did it. Therefore, the kiss fits; it's a great addition to the story and it makes sense. It's clear as day. Would it have made equal sense for Joel to suddenly kiss a man in a story expansion? Not really, no. Would it make sense for Kratos to magically become bisexual in the next God of War? Ah...no. See, this isn't all that complicated. If you can't tell when a writer has implemented something simply for the sake of getting attention, as opposed to adding a piece of content that rings true, you need to read more. A lot more.

Is Ellie gay? Bisexual? Don't care. She's a good character. End of story.

2/21/2014 Ben Dutka

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Comments (30 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, February 21, 2014 @ 11:03:44 PM
Reply

Well the Greeks did enjoy their man love as much as their woman love so maybe Kratos is a little bi-curious lol.

But yeah I think it's mostly a good response, however it would have been better if they had said exactly what Ben said above or whatever their thoughts were. Serious fiction creators don't just do things then toss up their hands and say "who cares?" they usually have deeper reasons, driving forces, and I like to hear about those as much as possible.

If they are saying "who cares" as a response to a society overly concerned with sexuality then I'm with em, as in, it shouldn't matter.

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Bonampak
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 1:35:19 AM
Reply

"Would it have made equal sense for Joel to suddenly kiss a man in a story expansion?"

If placed in a similar situation as Ellie's and around the same age? I guess so. Why not?

Given the right backstory, it should also work just as well as with Ellie.

Last edited by Bonampak on 2/22/2014 1:36:15 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 10:32:12 AM

Yes, with the right backstory. Except we already have Joel's backstory, so you'd have to change it.

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Lunar_Miyuki
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 1:46:23 AM
Reply

these types of complaints are stupid just like the government of my country is
i live in NA our government treats underage sex like its worse than killing someone
but the irony is usually by the age of 15 most people in NA has already had Sex
i met like 6 females that dropped out of school at the age of 15 and 16 because they were pregnant

as far as a fictional char being underage and Les i honestly don't care
i also met a few girls who where Les and wanted me when i was in middleschool
i of course turned them down but i didn't criticise them

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Underdog15
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 1:58:22 AM
Reply

She's a solid character. And the devs at ND are right. "Who cares" is exactly the right response. It's too bad when something like this comes up, people just can't handle it. It just lights up the headlines.

People are still scared of diversity, I guess.

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MrAnonymity
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 2:07:03 AM

Hm... "diversity" is a word very easily thrown around. However, if you closely examine both sides of the line, you'll see that "equality" only goes so far.

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Bio
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 5:08:29 AM

Yes, it goes only so far as to the point where people are treated equally. Once we as a society get to that point, we can stop worrying about it.

In the meantime, I'm perfectly fine with developers including content like this in their games, and if certain people don't like it, they're free to stop giving Naughty Dog their money :)

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Underdog15
Monday, February 24, 2014 @ 2:49:23 PM

Why is it thrown around loosely? It's not like it's a powerful word full of meaning... Diversity is diversity. We are all different. We know in business and in community development that the more diverse a population is, the stronger it is.

But used loosely? It's a very basic word... it has no heavy meaning. Like... at all. My comment says that people are scared of anything that is different from them. Maybe not everything, but a lot of things.

The fact that isn't used to make an in-your-face point is all that is needed here. It's not even like Ellie -MUST- be gay. But it is an event that raises a lot of questions about her character, what she knows about love, etc. etc. Heck, I have a friend (former girlfriend, actually) who kissed a girl in her early teens. It was the only person she felt cared about her and she was confused. She isn't gay, but her parents never had any bird/bees talks with her and they pretty much rubbed in her face that sex is always bad unless you're married. Not knocking that last opinion, but I'm not a fan of ultimatums like that without guidance or a nurturing parent raising their kid to not really understand WHY they might want to consider waiting.

Anyways... I guess my TLDR is: Diversity is good and not an overly used term, and a good character is a good character. Don't ever be scared of a person's backstory or be ashamed to learn about how a person got to where they are in life.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 2/24/2014 2:50:04 PM

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MrAnonymity
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 2:04:44 AM
Reply

Due to the tumultuous ground sexuality is on, I personally feel it has absolutely no place in gaming anymore. There was a time, yes, but that was before sexuality became the political and social nightmare that it is today.

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ethird1
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 5:23:35 AM
Reply

I tell parents all the time, if you don't like your kids around homosexuality in gaming, or anything else, do something about it. Don't let them play the game and explain to them why.

Read the reviews and look up the records on companies who push homosexual agendas, conservative or liberal agendas, or even religious agendas and decide on a course of action.

I know quite a few peeps who left Borderlands 2 and swore them off for it. Yet some of these same people also LOVED the scene in God of War 3 where 3 women were getting it on.

I could go on and on about far left and far right idiots, but it would fall on deaf ears. Because of tv and social media, the middle ground is losing it's war.

I am a middle ground guy. Always have been. I believe in peoples privacys and personal freedoms.

Someone where down the road people forgot how to respect one another.

Please don't start this right wing left wing war here. I will destroy both sides with ease.

But one last thing, I don't like playing GAY MALE CHARACTERS much like I don't like playing FEMALE CHARACTERS with gun blades and shorty shorts for armor. However I would play this gay eccentric elf who uses swords in battle and has awesome red paint on his face in a game called Shadow Run. He is badass though. :)

That is my preference. If you don't like it screw you.

End of line.

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MrAnonymity
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 5:48:34 AM

Your closing statement pretty much puts you right there with the far-left/right idiots you mention. Those people want their opinions/beliefs followed with no challenge nor do they want any argument and, essentially, have a "screw you" attitude to objections. Neutrality is being ultimately impartial, but your attitude certainly suggests some partiality somewhere.

Hence my stance on the issue. A lack of sexuality, even a lack of emphasis on, pretty much negates debate entirely. The inclusion of sexuality (and I mean this generally, not sex specifically) in media is just screaming for some kind of attention. Sure, it is easy to adopt the attitude of "Who cares?" but if that is the case, why go that route? By adding that sort of content, you are knowingly stepping up to the plate of scrutiny. And no, it is not as simple as content policing from parents either. It would be if the idea could be applied universally, but that is just not possible. At some point, even those that do not wish to be will be made privy to these things. And as far as tolerance goes... that is a flippin' nowhere road. Trying to tackle that means trying to appease to every offended party marching in parades or starting rallies out there. It just isn't going to happen.

Neutrality would be saying, "Just stop." Rather than employing relationships in controversial ways, either steer clear of them altogether or employ relationships strictly in a platonic sense and let people draw their own conclusions.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 10:33:40 AM

Loved your post, MrAnonymity!

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Underdog15
Monday, February 24, 2014 @ 3:02:08 PM

I didn't care for ethird's contradictory stance either. I do agree with Mr. Anonymity's point about tolerance in the understanding of how a large majority of people go about their "tolerance" stances.

I don't believe that's true tolerance, though. People use "tolerance" as a stance to say they don't need to take a stance and everybody gets to do whatever the heck they want without criticism. I don't agree with that, either. However, I also don't think that's tolerance at all.

Tolerance means getting along with people, respecting people, being able to acknowledge their merits, and everything else they bring to the table -despite- the fact they may have one or two beliefs you don't agree with. A tolerant far left and far right person exercising true tolerance would be able to be friends, work together, and even enjoy each others company despite disagreeing on a few things that are really important to them. They would also be able to engage in open dialogue and RESPECTFUL, non-name calling debate on issues they conflict on and come out the other end of the debate on friendly terms, regardless.

Tolerance is -NOT- about saying, "I'm ok with whatever you decide makes you happy in life as long as you accept my choices". Instead, it takes a stance on what is important and remains gracious even in the face of defeat.

If person A thinks homosexuality is a sin, or whatever, intolerance would dictate they excommunicate them their place of work, sports teams, etc. Tolerance maintains that opinion, but is kind and finds value in them as people none-the-less.

So I guess I both agree and disagree. Hate on "tolerance" all you want, but regardless of what you think, we all have a responsibility to live harmoniously with one another. It goes both ways.

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Ray186
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 7:02:26 AM
Reply

This just in "Hate Kills you quicker."


http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/homophobia-takes-years-life-study-article-1.1622531

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 10:37:05 AM

First of all, a "phobia" doesn't imply a "hatred" of something; it's a fear. That term needs to be clarified.

Second, ANY phobia, or any extreme bias that you obsess about, stresses you out, and ultimately lowers your quality of life.

And a flip side to that coin: If homosexuality wasn't absolutely jammed down our throats every second of every day, perhaps these so-called "homophobics" wouldn't have it on their minds as much.

I also love the part where they want to say anyone who doesn't like homosexuality is just repressing homosexual tendencies of their own. What's that? The teenage high school explanation? LOL

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 2/22/2014 10:54:35 AM

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Underdog15
Monday, February 24, 2014 @ 3:12:40 PM

Ben's right. lol I've never heard of anyone running away from a homosexual like it was contagious. I've always disliked the term, too.

In a lot of ways, people use the term "homophobic" to shame people. So.. what... if a person disagrees with it, they should be publicly shamed? Last I checked, everyone is free to believe what they want to believe. We can't just sort of... start fighting discrimination with more discrimination.

Because that's exactly what pointing fingers and labeling people as "homophobes" is... It's trying to fight discrimination by being discriminatory. I'm not sure what end people think that is going to meet...

Because I'm sorry... but if you want to be respected, you have to be willing to show respect first.

"Hey ashhole... show me some respect, you jackash"

See? It doesn't really work...

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PC_Max
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 8:56:14 AM
Reply

The "Who cares" statement I would disagree as a good response in regards to those in an uproar, Its a in your face response and hands up in the others face to say we do not care what you think. Not really mature for a dev statement but admittedly a gut response that I would have done on a personal level and not a professional level.

Better response would have beem... "Not important" or "Irrelevant". Semantics I know.

As for the whole gender thing. I guess some who overreacted did so maybe because in most games or stories you have it subtly suggested in the game progress. Like Bill in LoU. You got it pretty much and it fit his character. Ellie came out of left field.

Yep, one could analyze it in scientifically, medically, or socially, but this is a game folks. A story, like a book, where it has only so much time to explain it.

I have not played the DLC yet, but from what I gather, this whole thing does not mean much and really, does not add to the character much either. I see it as shock value. And the funny thing is I when I first heard about it I thought ND was just trying to poke fun at Ellen Page for he mouth over a year ago. And yep, most of us knew she was gay or whatever term/label you wish to place on someone. Well, we did in Canada anyway and up here ... not a big deal.

Regardless of you stand in all this... just enjoy the game. Live your life and let others do the same. Whether fictional or not.

Keep playing and peace!

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Bio
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 9:34:03 AM

Except that Naughty Dog shouldn't care if bigots get up in arms about completely harmless things like this. Not all opinions are created equally; those based on fear, hate and/or intolerance deserve to be dismissed as unworthy of Naughty Dog's time or concern.

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DarthNemesis
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 3:09:51 PM

@Bio everything is not biggotry.A person has a right to live traditionally and not want their kids exposed to homosexuality.They want to teach homosex relationships in school which I disagree with as do parents who have that right since it is their kids.They dont teach religion, heterosex or other personal lifestyles either and should not.You do not have the right to force people to stop thinking like a heterosexual person.

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Bio
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 10:30:42 PM

It is bigotry to expect a group of people to be treated as second class citizens because some people are irrationally uncomfortable with their very existence. Calling it 'traditional values' is just a red herring, and is the exact justification people used to use for the segregation of black people.

Gay people exist, they have a right not to be marginalized, and they shouldn't have to live their lives in secret just to make other people happy.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 10:57:51 PM

Bio: We have a really nasty habit of letting the pendulum swing to far in one direction, to the point where we start considering tax breaks for homosexual couples. That's called preferential treatment. In point of fact, it's called marginalizing a group of people for irrational reasons...in this case, the heterosexual.

At this point, as far as I can tell, gay people simply need to announce they're gay and the town in which they live will throw a parade in their honor. Well, here in CT, anyway. Perhaps not somewhere in Mississippi. ;)

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Bio
Sunday, February 23, 2014 @ 12:30:34 AM

Ben, married heterosexual couples are given tax breaks. Extending them to homosexuals who are married is not preferential treatment, it's equal treatment. If the US government is going to sanction and regulate marriage, those regulations need to be applied consistently to everyone regardless of orientation.

I'm on board with the idea that the government shouldn't be involved in marriage at all, but since it chooses to be, it has to recognize each legal union equally, otherwise it's unconstitutional.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, February 23, 2014 @ 1:03:46 AM

No, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the rumblings of fresh tax breaks being proposed exclusively for homosexual couples. No idea if it ever happens, but it better not.

Doesn't really matter, though. I know that if you call out a heterosexual couple for PDA, nobody will raise an eyebrow. Do it to a gay couple and that'll make headlines. You'll be villain of the year in TIME.

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cthulhu_spawn
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 9:08:58 AM
Reply

I believe that the ambiguity inherent in the dlc was perfect. It allows everyone of any orientation to take from it something that's theirs and weave it into the narrative in anyway that makes the story more personal and poignant to them.
I honestly could sit you down and spend half an hour proving to you based on the game that she is gay and then take a sip of water before spending the next half hour using the same game to prove she's not and that's the beauty of it.
Why we have to care about such a trivial point in such a wonderful piece of entertainment and feel the need to have everything laid out in terms of black and white is so disappointing in this day and age when we should be enlightened enough to use our own minds to fill in the blanks in a way that makes sense in the grander narrative for ourselves to enjoy the game on our own personal level.
Naughty dog saying 'who cares', perfect response to an imperfect world

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 1:47:24 PM
Reply

I haven't played the DLC content - because the price here in the UK is ridiculous. But from what I have heard the issue of Ellie having an interest just sounds really forced - As it has become in a lot of media within the last 5 years. Now I don't mean to come off as homophobic in saying that but it is getting a bit tiresome to see in modern media. ND can say who cares... well I don't know if I approve of that mentality because they're the ones who made it an issue within their game. But as I said I have yet to play the DLC, so maybe within context it will be more clearer...

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DarthNemesis
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 3:01:11 PM

You are absolutely right, it was forced, out of place and unecessary.It has nothing to do with being homophobic as supporters suggest which shows their own bias.There was no need for it as the two are too imature to think about kissing.Joel and Tess never kissed in the game as it was obvious they had a relationship.The fact is doing something just to please gays is just as bad as those who say others are hateful or do not except diversity but want their lifestyle forced on everyone.I found it completely random.The bigger issue is that the DLC is disappointing, too short and over priced.The Riley character was not interesting at all.

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Underdog15
Monday, February 24, 2014 @ 4:00:24 PM

My impression wasn't that it was forced as a love interest at all. In fact, I'm not even sure it was meant to suggest they are love interests. And certainly not in the same way most adults would be in that scenario. I think I get what they were trying to do.

... I know what I'm trying to say, but I don't think I'm wording it well.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 2/24/2014 4:00:48 PM

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Hand_of_Sorrow
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 5:50:23 PM
Reply

funny, its all around us in the real world. but put it in
a video game and the world goes bad.

i agree with ND's response, Who Cares?

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PlatformGamerNZ
Saturday, February 22, 2014 @ 9:38:23 PM
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i think we'll leave this one alone cos well i got better things to do my time and i'll leave it at that.

happy gaming =)

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godsman
Sunday, February 23, 2014 @ 9:51:26 AM
Reply

Although the story and cinematic are awesome, i can't get the connection between the game and dlc. it felt like the scenes were forced together. When Joel was injured, he was in a garage the whole time, not in a mall. I had so much confusion playing the DLC.

I would've enjoyed the gameplay a bit more if the flashbacks had left items behind for the present Ellie to pickup. Or explain the wrecked cars were not from Infected, but from the two girls. To me the Story was A+, but gameplay was a B.

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