“we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast.”
It should come as no surprise that there has been a copious amount of hate being thrown around in the wake of The Last of Us Part 2 leaks, but this only grew worse once the game officially released last month. In light of the online hate that Naughty Dog employees received, the company has now issued a statement condemning any form of harassment or threats directed toward the team.
Just to clarify: I will touch on some spoilers, so if you haven’t played the game yet, then just don’t read the rest of this and let it be known that the cast and crew behind the game have been getting violent threats. There are also some sensitive topics raised, so this is your trigger warning for…well, numerous things.
Where to begin with this? The Last of Us Part 2 was delayed indefinitely back in April after the majority of the world went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. Shortly after that delay, leaks had begun to surface online which started off a train of hate. People were incredibly distraught to see leaks showing the death of Joel. This, and other elements saw people saving the clips of the spoilers, posting them online anywhere that had The Last of Us Part 2 mentioned, and even went as far to randomly send private messages to known fans. There was also a barrage of violent tweets targeting the developers–particularly the writer and director, Neil Druckmann.
The Last of Us Part 2 saw a new release date, the online space still ablaze with people attempting to spoil the game. A week before release and reviews went live. There was also a lot of praise being shared for the accessibility settings available in the game, boasting over 60 accessibility features, the most in a AAA game ever. However, online abusers started to sling derogatory slurs and hate toward the disabled people praising the game. The same was happening to the reviewers, being accused of being paid off to praise the game just because the story contains subject matter that doesn’t resonate with those people who were angry.
After the game launched and review bombing took place, the online harassment not only got worse, but reached a point that developers at Naughty Dog had started to speak out. The development team shared messages and defended their colleagues and others. The most notable tweet, of late, has been from the actor Laura Bailey who voiced Abby in The Last of Us Part 2.
Man. I try to only post positive stuff on here… but sometimes this just gets a little overwhelming. I blacked out some of the words cuz, ya know, spoilers.
Side note. Thank you to all the people sending me positive messages to balance it out. It means more than I can say.❤️ pic.twitter.com/kGyULWPpNu
— Laura Bailey (@LauraBaileyVO) July 3, 2020
People throwing abuse and death threats at Laura reference the killing of the protagonist from the first game, Joel. In this game, he’s killed by her character avatar, Abby. Other comments that have been circling the internet have found people making transphobic comments about Abby’s physique despite her not actually being a transgender character. Laura’s tweet garnered a lot of support but also started to encourage others to amplify positivity, drowning out the messages from more abusive corners of the internet.
Neil Druckmann is one who has shared a handful of messages he has received, finding comments that seem from when the leaks went online. Comments, once again, focus on the subject matters in the game, such as Ellie and Dina’s lesbian relationship, and the false information that Abby is transgender.
You can love or hate the game and share your thoughts about it. Unfortunately too many of the messages I’ve been getting are vile, hateful, & violent. Here are just a handful of them (feel it’s important to expose.) Trigger Warning: transphobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, etc. pic.twitter.com/uR9vpGgYQa
— Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) July 5, 2020
Naughty Dog has now come forward with a statement, “Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast.” it reads, “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.”
Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast. 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. pic.twitter.com/eoq4t1ITnh
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) July 5, 2020
Personally, I can’t comprehend why you’d send someone messages of the sort that we’ve been seeing over the last few months. Let alone over a video game telling a fictional story that is written to be dark and shocking. The perspective shift in The Last of Us Part 2 I thought was a very clever element and worked with the way the story was being told. But that’s just me; I enjoyed it, others haven’t enjoyed it, so be it. Discuss rather than pointlessly threaten.
There is certainly a problem with toxic people using throwaway accounts online just to send abuse, but there’s also a problem from those who incite it elsewhere. It may be well and good to say, “Just ignore the comments and the haters, focus on the positive.” But the human brain adores latching onto negativity, and it can be an incredibly hard thing to ignore. Please, for the love of God, think before you even consider writing something so awful and sending it to a real person who was part of a video game creation. And if a video game gets you riled up to even reach that point, maybe there’s an underlying problem you need to address.
Stop being jerks.