Naughty Dog Fights Sexism with Ellie’s Placement on The Last of Us Box Art

In a recent candid interview with VG247, Neil Druckmann, the creative director on Naughty Dog’s upcoming game The Last of Us, and Ashley Johnson, Ellie’s voice actor, explain why the decision to feature the game’s young female protagonist on the box art so centrally was made and why it is so important.

[Ashley] Johnson suggested: “I feel like they don’t put women on the covers because they’re afraid that it won’t sell. It’s all gamers really know – and I don’t want to be sexist by any means – but I get the feeling, generally, that they think game’s won’t sell as well with a woman on the cover, compared to some badass dude on the front.”

“I agree with what Ashley said,” [Neil] Druckmann added. “I believe there’s a misconception that if you put a girl or a woman on the cover, the game will sell less. I know I’ve been in discussions where we’ve been asked to push Ellie to the back and everyone at Naughty Dog just flat-out refused.”

Ashley earlier provided some context to her thoughts on the matter:

“As a gamer – and as of course, a female gamer – you definitely have your viewpoints on how women are portrayed in video games. Typically they’re either over-sexualised, or they’re the damsel in distress, or simply there to be a love interest. There may even be one female in a game who’s a badass, as opposed to, ‘Just another male character’. It does bother me, which is another thing that attracted me to this game, and Naughty Dog games in general. You had Uncharted with Elena, and I feel Naughty Dog creates very real characters, especially with The Last of Us. Everybody is real and all of the characters have flaws, which I feel you don’t see a lot in video games.”

Druckmann also joked about the situation when he posted this message on twitter “So glad people like the box art. See, you can put the girl in the front! #thelastofus”.

Honestly, this strikes me as somewhat opportunistic angling for moral praise. Considering the controversy which the Bioshock Infinite box art provoked, with its notably bland depiction of ‘[j]ust another [badass] male character’, it seems like the perfect time to come out and claim that featuring the two protagonists of an intrinsically character driven game on its box art somehow represents taking a moral stance against the casualization of sexism in the video game industry. Anyway, take a lot at the box art below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: VG247

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