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Naughty Dog On Ellie's Sexual Status: "Who Cares?"

It was bound to make headlines eventually.

During an especially poignant scene in the Left Behind DLC for The Last Of Us, Ellie kisses her female friend, Riley. Unsurprisingly, this has kicked off a firestorm of questions and controversy. "Is Ellie gay?" is the first question on everyone's lips.

Well, Naughty Dog game director Bruce Straley has a response, and it's perfect: "Who cares?"

Speaking to GameSpot, Straley said the emphasis is simply on creating a great character:

"It's like 'who cares?' A good character is a good character and that's what we're after."

Additionally, creative director Neil Druckmann talked about the reaction they received concerning Ellie's involvement in TLoU. He said most people just assumed that Ellie would only be featured in escort missions and wouldn't really be a major character. On the contrary, Ellie played a huge role in the storyline and Druckmann says the "reception's been great." He said they "didn't set out to make a statement;" they just wanted to produce a super capable character.

This is how writing should be approached in any medium. If it works in the story, fine. If it doesn't and you're only doing it for political or social reasons, that's an insult to art. As for the Left Behind DLC, be sure to check out our recent review.

Related Game(s): The Last Of Us

Tags: the last of us, left behind dlc, naughty dog, sexuality in games

2/19/2014 10:01:29 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (39 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 10:26:39 PM
Reply

Well we don't know what the purposes ND has for doing it, they did tick a lot of political and social boxes in TLoU. But it is kind of funny to watch the peanut gallery get worked up about such a small thing.

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Shams
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 10:26:54 PM
Reply

To be honest, they only added it because they knew people (from both camps) WOULD care, and it certainly didn't hurt the marketing of the dlc. Me, personally, could do with out underage kissing (or the sexual kind rather than the innocent kind) in my entertainment media, gay or not.

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Underdog15
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 7:38:32 AM

When I was underage in high school, I couldn't go without underage kissing!

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Shams
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 2:51:24 PM

Sure. You could've got some nookie, too, but, like I said, I as an adult rather not see either in my entertainment media.

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Underdog15
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 3:15:41 PM

Obviously I'm 100% against anything explicit. And I'm even more against that kind of relationship with an adult character. But something as innocent as a kiss I'm ok with if it's realistic and would be harmless even in the real world. But I don't like anything in story that has no point, so it would have to at least do something positive for the character building.

I haven't seen this DLC yet, so I don't really have an opinion or care a whole lot at this point regarding this specific example.

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DragonRose313
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 10:35:18 PM
Reply

I feel the same way, but I do really want to play this. Too bad I borrowed the game, and it's $15 when I am dead broke.

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Danny007
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 10:46:02 PM
Reply

Wait... on the lips or cheek?

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Killa Tequilla
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 10:54:17 PM

Who cares?

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Danny007
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 11:33:32 PM

Lol, I knew someone was going to comment back saying that... I was just wondering because, to me, if it was on the lips then yes she's gay, and that's okay, nothing wrong with that. But, if it was on the cheek, then people on the internet need to find new topics to discuss. So, I was wondering which one of those two was the case, without having to spend 15 bucks. But... I will get it eventually. So yeah, that's why I asked...

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Xombito
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 11:33:44 PM

If people are questioning if Ellie is gay, then what do you think?

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Danny007
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 11:58:23 PM

Okay, lips, got it. Thank you all very much.
P.S.
Sorry I asked.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 10:57:59 PM
Reply

I know she wasn't technically based on Ellen Page but... Ellen Page must have something to do with this.

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Xombito
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 11:30:49 PM

Question is did Naughty Dog know Ellen Page was gay before she came out?

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Danny007
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 11:34:33 PM

Oh my god, that's hilarious. LOL

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Bonampak
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:20:41 AM

Well to be fair, almost everyone and their dog suspected that Ellen Page was gay, way before she finally came out.

So ND probably went with the flow and made a good guess.

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Xombito
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 2:00:43 AM

Really? I didn't. Then again, its not like I try to find out about these type of things. I was a bit a surprise, mostly because I just finished playing Beyond Two Souls. Whatever though. Good for her.

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MRSUCCESS
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 8:44:58 AM

For those who care -- Ellen Page recently announced she only likes the coochie. She's not about that rooster life.

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Draguss
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:12:19 AM
Reply

The answer shouldn't be who cares, as evidently a lot of people do, but more "what's the big deal about it?"

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DIsmael85
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:18:17 AM
Reply

The whole Ellie being gay part is being focused on way too much. Think of this game without our every day moral standards. You have to realize in their time there is no media no societal norms. She loved her friend and she wanted to express her closeness with her, whether it was sexual or not. It didn't matter, Riley was someone she really cared about. I never took the scene as she is gay more rather this person whom she was so close with was someone she didn't want to lose and she felt like showing Riley how important she was to her. This also was how Joel was with Ellie. Sure she couldn't replace his daughter, but he grew to love her like one and would go out of his way to protect her and keep her alive. She also loved him back, because of all the people she met, he was the only one that stuck around for her. The love wasn't so black and white in this game.

I feel Neil was trying to emphasize this in the story that we as people are so fixated on what is and what isn't that we forget what is most important and that's being a person and loving and caring about who you want regardless of what others may think. Which is why they say "who cares". It shouldn't matter and when playing through this game it shouldn't matter. Good characters and a fantastic story was all there was.

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Bonampak
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:38:24 AM

"The whole Ellie being gay part is being focused on way too much. Think of this game without our every day moral standards. You have to realize in their time there is no media no societal norms...."

A gay person is gay regardless of outside influences. They're born that way and do not depend on the media or social norms to be able to decide or manifest their sexual preference.

What you're suggesting is that Ellie is not in fact gay. But is merely being affectionate.

So the people who focus on her being gay, obviously don't see things the way you do. Because to be gay is not something actual gay people can switch on and off. Its always on since the day they were born.

So they're interested in knowing if Ellie is in fact gay, or just curious and affectionate.

I'm just trying to show you the other side of the coin here. ;)

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DIsmael85
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:46:04 AM

I get what you are saying, but what you fail to realize is that they are teenage girls. Who's emotions are not governed by any societal norm. They are in a world of chaos and feel how they feel. At least Ellie seems to anyway. No one is there to tell her what is wrong or not. There is no other side to this coin, it's all up to interpretation and what you personally got from it. I don't know whether she is gay or not since I didn't write the story, but from understanding human behavior and how society is molded around what we see and hear I can gather what was intended. We've all felt close to our best friends growing up, guy or girl, that's just how it is. When you are young your feelings aren't clear as we are still growing. You may feel attracted to your best friend or you may not. As we mature we begin to understand our feelings more and go for what we as people want. Gay or not, this was a very close friendship and Ellie acted on emotion and feeling.

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sawao_yamanaka
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:58:53 AM

That is perfect. Have you posted this on other sites? I am pretty sure I read this elsewhere, either way what you posted was perfect. They didn't grow up in our society. She knows nothing about sexual orientation and what is "right", "wrong", or whatnot. She loved her friend and she knew of no other way to express it. She wanted Riley to stay, because she was the closest she has ever been with anyone. No longer the outcast because of her.

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Bonampak
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 2:19:30 PM

@DIsmael85

I didn't failed to realize anything. You did.

See, if the character IS gay, then that character is gay regardless of any outside influences.

Because unless you're one of those religious types that believes that being gay is a choice, then you must understand that simple fact. A gay person is gay since day one. They're attracted to people of the same sex since they're mere children.

Outside influences or society will only influence someone who is gay in trying to hide it or keep it a secret ~ thus why so many gay people stay in the closet. Or why they will have a hard time accepting themselves during their teenage years and beyond. Because everyone is telling them that they're wrong (in some cases, that they're evil).

Like I said before, you're trying to explain why Elie isn't gay. By claiming that she was merely being affectionate to someone she cared about in a world where no one would judge them.

I'm telling you that there is also the possibility that she is in fact gay. And nothing of what you said, cancels that possibility. Absolutely nothing. Especially in the world that they live in. Where someone who is gay, wouldn't need to worry about being judged.

So you're excuse to explain why Ellie couldn't be gay (no outside pressures of any kind, also works to make the case that she is gay & is more willing to let it out without having to worry about it.

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DIsmael85
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 5:42:53 PM

Can you prove to me that a newborn Baby is gay the day it is born? What verifiable proof do you have to back that statement up? I for one disagree with that. A child before it hits puberty has no way of knowing that they are gay as they don't have the cognitive reasoning of an adult yet. Please my friend back up your theory it would greatly amuse me and everyone I'm sure how you will prove that a baby is gay day one.

I never pretended once to say Ellie is gay or not and for your information I am far from being religious. I'm way more of the thinking and observant type. So perish the thought. What I simply stated is that from the study of human behavior, psychology if you must know, I can derive my own opinion based on that particular scene. Whether to emphasize Ellie is in fact gay or not we'll never know unless Neil comes out and says so. Let me say that again, unless Neil comes out and says so.

Again your post is going by societal norms of what we are used to anyway. This world that Neil has created has no society in which we are accustomed to. So to deem her sexual preference, especially a 14 year old girl who is going through puberty no doubt, as what you would define it as is not seeing the whole picture. I personally don't care what she is, I am in love with the characters and story. I would never have imagined in my life time that I'd get to experience such a thing in game format. You usually get this in books.

Please don't take this as a huge attack, I'm definitely enjoying the debate and can't wait to learn how you can prove a child is born gay.

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Bio
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:40:20 AM
Reply

Naughty Dog's response is particularly awesome, IMO. We need to get past orientation, and instead of trying to use this as a platform they took the right approach in asking who really cares, because honestly none of us should.

Gay or straight, a good character is a good character, and a bad one is bad. Simple as that.

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DIsmael85
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:47:55 AM

I agree!

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Grandmaster
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:42:09 AM
Reply

Lesbian is the correct term. Not gay.I get sick and tired of people not using the right word for the definition.This is why there are so many ignorant people around.and the youth sponge up said ignorance.

Gay=Male/Male Orientation
Lesbian=Female/Female Orientation
Bi-Sexual=Orientation for both genders,regardless of gender.
Homosexual=Descibes Same Sex Orientation as a whole


Last edited by Grandmaster on 2/20/2014 12:45:40 AM

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DIsmael85
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:48:40 AM

Does it really matter? I mean seriously. I have girlfriends that say they are gay. Are they just ignorant?

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Bio
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 1:04:25 AM

Such a meaningless distinction that none of my gay friends even bother with. Gay is gay, and gay is okay, and labeling is pointless.

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Underdog15
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 7:39:42 AM

Yeah, any of my friends that are lesbian call themselves gay. It's a meaningless distinction.

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wackazoa
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 12:28:48 PM

I thought gay=happy.

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Grandmaster
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 1:13:05 AM
Reply

Yes it does really matter,but I'm not talking about a persons sexual orientation mattering. I'm talking about knowledge mattering. If we all just start using whatever term as we like everything will get all muddled and misinterpreted. Knowledge will be lost. For example look at history and each version of something keeps changing and getting more inaccurate. The history books in school these days are a great example of this. Calanders is another example.
I should clarify ignorant may not be the best definition in yours or other particular cases. Simply misinformed might be the accurate description.

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DIsmael85
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 1:19:09 AM

Misinformed could be used. Though I don't think it seriously matters when it comes to people feelings or interpretations. No one ever said those things were logical. So yeah, while what you said makes sense in a politically correct way it's lost when it comes to how people will view themselves and others. The English language and how we use words is a pretty unique thing.

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Underdog15
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 7:43:21 AM

I don't think people are misinformed at all. I think everybody knows a homosexual woman is a lesbian and a homosexual man is gay. Thing is, even lesbians call themselves gay because it's a term that is relatively gender neutral.

You know... like term equality. In the same way that actresses are politically correctly called actors now. If I knew any lesbians that cared about that distinction I'd agree. But I don't.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 2/20/2014 7:43:38 AM

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PlatformGamerNZ
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 2:38:58 AM
Reply

well i guess someone was gunna ask the question eventually but i think i've gotten past needing to comment it is what it is now shall we move on.

happy gaming =)

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Underdog15
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 7:44:11 AM
Reply

I agree with ND's game director.

Who gives a flying f***.

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Axe99
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 3:58:01 PM
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I thought it was just a great bit of character development, although I know enough about our society not to expect the associated hoo-haa ;).

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CHAOS THEORY X
Friday, February 21, 2014 @ 12:27:16 AM
Reply

I'm gay(TLOU's Bill kinda gay)and honestly these main characters being gay seem to have a impact on the players without Naughty Dog even trying.

To someone who is gay, like myself, it provides an idol to look up to or a person to connect with. By doing this it promotes a better self image. The characters' sexuality didn't prevent them or have any effect on their amazing feats.

To someone who isn't gay, this doesn't show understanding(Naughty Dog would have to really get involved with the characters' orientation then), but rather kind of desensitizes the player to homosexuality. This is because the player has already become connected to the character so that when Naughty Dog so subtly weaves this into their character, it gives an impression of their sexuality as unimportant, which the player can hopefully later relate to with others in the real world.

TLOU delivers an amazing story and characters as a whole. They don't emphasize on individual issues. Its expected this would get hype, I just can't explain why.

Out to my Mom a week ago, and a date with a guy who lives in Denmark in a month! O_o(Texas here) Things are changing for me. Its scary, exciting, and confusing. But good, very good. :)

Last edited by CHAOS THEORY X on 2/21/2014 12:29:15 AM

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Underdog15
Friday, February 21, 2014 @ 12:59:50 AM
Reply

"...it gives an impression of their sexuality as unimportant, which the player can hopefully later relate to with others in the real world."

This.

It shouldn't be such an enormous challenge for people to "come out". It is, of course, because so many people are straight up afraid of it. (see what I did there?) It's as you say... to anyone outside your relationship with your special someone, it -SHOULD- be completely unimportant. The fact that we have to make it a big deal, both in discussing stupid issues like this and the fact that coming out is hard, proves that people, in general, are extremely insecure when it comes to something they couldn't possibly understand.

I'm straight, but I see the struggles in my close personal friends. Heck, one of my best friends who I was roommates with back in university (and stood for me at my wedding) is bi and transgender. It's freaking hard, and he -DEFINITELY- does not choose to be. Heck, for the longest time, she hated herself for it. For her sake, I wish her family and people in general could get over themselves and see that ultimately, her orientation is unimportant, as his his gender identifier, and what really matters is the type of person she is: one of the kindest people I've ever met.

Instead... the relationship with parents, family, and many friends will likely never be good.

Good for you for being comfortable in your skin.

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