The controversial 2020 PS4 game The Last of Us – Part II walked away from the Game Awards 2020 with multiple major awards including Game of the Year.
In addition to Game of the Year, it also won a swath of awards including Best Innovation in Accessibility, Best Action/Adventure Game, Best Performance by Laura Bailey as Abbey, Best Narrative and Best Audio Design.
The game was released in June of this year to a massively positive critical consensus and a largely negative fan reaction stemming from its extremely bleak content to its willingness to kill fans favorite characters and its hyper masculine portrayal of its new female lead Abbey as broad figured and a seemingly transgender individual.
The game sparked a massive discussion online regarding how to respect fan favorite characters and to what degree a video game needs to be “fun” to be respected as a form of entertainment when the creators want to tell a darker story.
Neil Druckman, the game’s director, lamented the extreme negative backlash and the large amounts of criticism he earned on social media earlier this year which gamers further dismissed as disrespectful and dismissive to the fans.
Actress Laura Bailey similarly lamented death threats she received from the community due to her portrayal of Abbey.
The fans weren’t totally wrong about dismissive criticism. Death threats and impolite rhetoric aside, many fans simply didn’t enjoy the darker story and wanted more time to play as their preferred characters and were simply written off by the media with the rest of the critics as bigots and conspirators.
As Forbes reported:
“A certain crowd on the internet reacted violently to Naughty Dog’s decision to move female and LBTGQ+ characters to the center of the story, reacting with a rare level of trolling and abuse even in an industry rife with it. The game was also the victim of a review-bombing campaign on metacritic, where huge numbers of users left negative reviews in an—unsuccessful—effort to damage either sales or public opinion.”Forbes, July 5, 2020
The extreme reactions for and against the game didn’t change the game’s sales which sold 2.8 million units in its first month, becoming the fastest selling exclusive game in the history of the PlayStation.
While discussions of the game have largely fallen by the wayside, It’s not unlikely that we’re due for a larger fan backlash against the Game Awards for choosing the game that most appealed to film critics over fan favorite games like Ghost of Tsushima and DOOM Eternal.
Expect some hot takes incoming.