Why The Last of Us: Part II is a Big Fucking Deal

There is no denying that 2016 has been a giant garbage fire. Wherever you turn, there are news reports more heartbreaking and depressing than before. But sometimes, out of the darkness comes hope. At this year's PlayStation Experience the creators of The Last of Us announced that there was going to be a second part to the narrative. Even better, they released a trailer:

This announcement is not just a big deal in the gaming community. It's a big fucking deal to the queer community as well. In The Last of Us the single-player downloadable content "Left Behind," we see Ellie kiss a girl and we learn that she's queer. Of course, many people tried to write off the revelation with the awful and abysmal "gal pal" trope, but luckily, Naughty Dog was having none of that. They "came out" to say that there should be no doubt about Ellie's queer identity. One of the main characters in a massively successful video game was queer, and players would just have to deal with it.

No one was sure if there was going to be another game to continue Ellie and Joel's story, but the announcement of a sequel ensured something magically queer was going to happen. If the trailer is any indication of game play, it seems like Ellie is going to be the protagonist in this game. A queer 19-year-old woman is going to be the the main playable character in one of the most popular and critically acclaimed video games in recent history.

Yes, there have been games where you can "play gay." The Mass Effect series, Dragon Age, and other Bioware games have given us options to play as female while seducing a space girlfriend. Obviously, having this option is groundbreaking in itself. But with these options you can also play these characters as heterosexual. The characters have no canonical sexual orientation. It seems like the only way we can get queer playable characters in games if we choose them.

The Last of Us: Part II changes all of that. If Ellie is truly the main character of this game, this means that everyone has to play as a queer women. Dudebros who get mad at the idea of female inclusion in the video game are made to play as a Ellie. The idea of this truly makes me giddy from head to toe. In order to play an extremely successful (and well written) video game means you get no choice in who you play as. In almost every video game we've had to play as straight characters, never seeing ourselves as the hero of the story. But the tables have finally turned. Whether Ellie turns out to be the hero or anti-hero doesn't matter. Queer video game characters are worthy of their own limelight. They are worthy of headlining a financially successful series, and their presence doesn't hinder the success of the game — it actually makes the storytelling richer and even more important than it already was.

We're here, we're queer, we're in your video games. And we aren't going anywhere.


The Last of Us: Part II is scheduled for release in 2018.

Amanda M.'s picture
on December 9, 2016

writer, @geeksout and @hellogiggles contributor, humanitarian, lesbian, lego curator