Content warning: The following story discusses online harassment and contains images with sexist, transphobic and anti-Semitic language
Video game company Naughty Dog, which developed “The Last of Us Part 2,” posted a tweet today in response to the harassment experienced by their team after the game’s release. The tweet reads, “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.”
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
However, a number of responses to the statement were from fans who continued to express their extreme dislike for how the narrative took a turn in the post-apocalyptic survival game sequel. Vlogger Meg Turney replied to a hateful comment to the tweet, “Literally no one is asking for your opinion on the game on a post about artists receiving death threats. This isn’t remotely the place for what you thought of the story.”
While other fans spoke about how they’re enjoying the game, there were hardly any comments addressing the abuse thrown at the game’s team. Is the gaming community largely used to this type of cruel behavior that it’s normalized and met with willful blindness? If so, the community has some serious reflecting to do.
Naughty Dog’s statement comes after voice actress Laura Bailey posted screenshots of death threats that she received from “fans” who hated her (previously speculated to be trans) character Abbey. She wrote in the tweet published on July 4, “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.”
Toxic fandom culture doesn’t just exist in gaming and this isn’t the first time an actor has been attacked for something their characters did (which, like Bailey, they often have no say in). You would think that in 2020, actors wouldn’t be subjected to this anymore but we are sadly proved wrong.
Damn. The amount of encouraging responses to this… I’ve always believed that good people far outweigh the bad. Thanks for reminding me of that today.
— Laura Bailey (@LauraBaileyVO) July 4, 2020
On July 6, “The Last of Us Part 2” co-writer and co-game director Neil Druckmann also shared screenshots of some of the messages he received. Apart from wanting him dead, the messages also contained sexist, transphobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic insults. What was shown weren’t criticisms of a storyline anymore, they were verbal hate crimes.
Thanks for all the incredible words of support. Just know, that despite all this, if somehow the lord gave me a second chance at making this game, I’d do it all over again.
Onto more positive things. Like burrito appreciation threads.
— Dr. Uckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) July 6, 2020
Naughty Dog, Bailey and Druckmann have not shared any plans to file charges against the individuals who sent the threats and hateful messages. Despite this, we hope that this inspires the community to come together to stop abuse against artists who work hard so we can all have something to enjoy.
In response to the issue, television and video game writer Mike Drucker said wryly, “I feel like it’s possible to not enjoy a video game without having to ruin the life of someone who made it.”
I feel like it’s possible to not enjoy a video game without having to ruin the life of someone who made it
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) July 6, 2020
Since some people still need this reminder: We are not entitled to abuse artists just because their work didn’t cater to our preferences. Respect their boundaries.
Photo screengrabbed from “The Last of Us Part 2” trailer
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