One Small Step for 'The Last of Us,' One Big Step for Gender Equality

Turns out video games are pretty close t0 ye olde Disney movies, where a female character often needs to be saved by a man. But in a new game called The Last of Us, lead female character Ellie is saving herself. User interface designer Alexandria Neonakis, who works for Naughty Dog, the company that created The Last of Us, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that this is a big step for personal gaming and gender equality.

"She's powerful the whole time, and it had nothing to do with wielding a gun or physical ability. In an industry that more often than not represents women as either a damsel in distress or a male character in a female body, this was a triumph in storytelling and representation," Neonakis said. "Ellie is an entirely playable character. It was not by coincidence that the moments you play as her are the most impactful in the game."

Neonakis railed against the Times review of the game, which singled out another male character Joel as the story's star but Neonakis says that the real protagonist is Ellie, who begins stereotypical but blossoms into much more.

"Her journey from a damsel in distress to a fully capable and complex character is made clear through the relationship she develops with Joel. Likewise, Joel's growth could not have happened without Ellie. This was not a game 'about men.' It was about a mutual relationship and about how people need one another," Neonakis said.

The designer goes on to say that video game writers need to continue this pattern in future story lines, creating gender equality in the digital world also. Yes, yes indeed.