Naughty Dog Vice President and The Last of Us Part II director Neil Druckmann confirmed he fired what he described as “sexist focus testers.”
In an interview with Glixel in 2016, Druckmann was asked how Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency videos influenced him in regards to the development of Uncharted 4.
Druckmann responded, “When I’m introducing and describing a new character to our lead character concept artist, constantly she will ask, “What if it was a girl?” And I’m like, Oh, I didn’t think about that. Let me think, does that affect or change anything? No? Cool, that’s different. Yeah, let’s do it.”
He added, “Initially, in the epilogue, it was Nate’s son. Something similar happened with the mansion they go into. That was an old English guy’s house. She asked, Well, what if it was a woman?”
Druckmann then detailed that a number of the focus testers questioned the changes, “You have some sexist focus testers who were really upset by Nadine beating up Nate, and really upset at the end when it was Nate’s daughter.”
He went on to confirm that he fired at least one of the focus testers for providing their feedback, “To the point where we had to ask one guy to leave. In his core, it just affected him. He was cursing, ‘Not you, too, Naughty Dog! Goddammit. I guess I’m done with Uncharted, if you guys ever make another one, with his daughter. This f***ing bullshit.'”
Druckmann concluded the question saying, “And I was like, Wow, why does that matter?”
Rumors About Naughty Dog Firing Dissenters
Recent rumors indicate that Naughty Dog employees are in fear of losing their jobs if they criticize the story for the upcoming The Last of Us Part II.
An anonymous source allegedly connected to Naughty Dog told Sausage Roll, “The team is very much divided on the game, and even voicing your concerns on its story will upset certain individuals; it usually results in said person being called closed-minded or even phobic, or some such nonsense. Some people literally have to bite their tongues or fear losing their jobs, even careers, to an outrage mob.”
Druckmann’s Don’t Like It, Don’t Buy It Moment
Not only did Druckmann confirm he fired a focus tester for giving their feedback on the game, but recently he posted a picture of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain alongside a quote to his Instagram stories.
Given the timing of the Instagram post, it appears to be in reference to the recent The Last of Us Part II leaks and criticism of the game’s story.
The quote reads, “At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of a different color, or women, please do this one favor for us – leave us the f**k alone!”
It continues, “Don’t come to our shows, and don’t buy our records.”
YouTuber The Quartering compared this to former EA Chief Creative Officer Patrick Soderlund’s response to Battlefield V criticism.
Soderlund sent a clear message to fans who were unhappy with the game’s marketing and product saying, “And we don’t take any flak. We stand up for the cause, because I think those people who don’t understand it, well, you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game. I’m fine with either or. It’s just not ok.”
The Quartering questioned, “Is this the if you don’t like it, don’t buy it? I don’t think that worked very good for Battlefield, which by the way wrapped up production early because sales were so terrible.”
He adds, “Are you kidding me Neil Druckmann? Did you just insinuate if you don’t like the story then you must have a problem with gay folks. This is almost worse. This is not just if you don’t like it you don’t buy it. This is if you don’t like it you are phobic, you are an evil person.”
Druckmann Blames Misogyny For His Failure
As The Quartering points out in his video, Druckmann has also blamed misogyny for why one of his games failed. At the International Game Developers Association in 2013, Druckmann explained the reason the game failed, “The reason it failed is because it was a misogynistic idea.”
Neil Druckmann gives a speech. pic.twitter.com/8Kt4MI61D9
— Kat ☆ (@_Vs_The_World) April 29, 2020
It’s highly like that Druckmann is already setting the stage to trot out this line given the massive backlash to The Last of Us Part II following the game’s leaks. And he wouldn’t been the first.
We just recently saw Elizabeth Banks trot it out even before Charlie’s Angels bombed. She stated, “Look, people have to buy tickets to this movie, too. This movie has to make money.”
Banks added, “If this movie doesn’t make money it reinforces a stereotype in Hollywood that men don’t go see women do action movies.”
She elaborated, “They’ll go and see a comic book movie with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel because that’s a male genre. So even though those are movies about women, they put them in the context of feeding the larger comic book world, so it’s all about, yes, you’re watching a Wonder Woman movie but we’re setting up three other characters or we’re setting up Justice League.”
I would not be surprised if Druckmann follows Banks’ lead and uses the same playbook for The Last of Us Part II.
What do you make of Druckmann’s comments over the years?