The Last of Us Part 2 developer Naughty Dog put out a statement over the weekend condemning harassment and threats made against those who worked on the game as director Neil Druckman and others shared some of the vile messages they’ve received following the game’s release.
“You can love or hate the game and share your thoughts about it,” Druckman wrote on Twitter yesterday. “Unfortunately too many of the messages I’ve been getting are vile, hateful, & violent.” Based on screenshots he shared the messages contained homophobic, transphobic, antisemetic, and other hateful remarks. “Hopefully covid 19 kills your whole toxic feminist studio,” read part of one of the messages.
Druckman wasn’t the only one though. Last Friday, July 3 Laura Bailey, who voices one of the game’s main characters, Abby, tweeted out screenshots of some of the awful messages she’s received. “Man,” she wrote, “I try to only post positive stuff on here...but sometimes this just gets a little overwhelming.”
Abby’s character in particular seems to have become something of a sore point for reactionary fans who can’t seem to deal with the idea of a woman having big muscles. Without getting into spoilers, she also factors big into one of the game’s major plot points. But The Last of Us Part 2 as a whole has been the target of harassment and abuse going back to when some of the game’s story beats leaked in April.
Ever since then, those apparently unable to deal with disappointment like an adult have taken to filling the comments sections under major tweets about the game with spoilers, criticism, and sometimes abusive remarks aimed at the people who made The Last of Us Part 2. In May, Druckman tweeted that he was already being inundated with death threats over the assumed content of the game. Prior to the game’s release, the Naughty Dog Twitter account even occasionally used Twitter’s new feature to limit comments to prevent people from responding to its tweets with internet bile.
The studio finally publicly responded to the hate over the weekend. “Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast,” the studio wrote yesterday. “Their safety is our top priority, but we must all work together to root out this type of behavior and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse.”
The entire affair has faint echoes of the hate mob around Mass Effect 3’s ending, including ridiculous fan petitions to have parts of the story changed. But in the eight years since Mass Effect 3 came out, certain parts of the internet and the culture around gaming have only gotten worse.
There are plenty of legitimate critiques to be made of The Last of Us Part 2, including how it handles violence and its depictions of certain characters. I also have more than a few questions about what it means that some of the game’s themes around hatred have their origins in Druckman’s response to a 2000 video apparently showing two Israel soldiers being killed by a crowd in the West Bank. But of course those aren’t the sorts of discussions those hurling ethnic slurs at Druckman or making death threats against the people who worked on the game are trying to have.