Following the immense backlash towards Naughty Dog, sparked after leaked cutscenes from The Last of Us 2 gave players their first look at the game’s questionable plot points and character designs, an alleged source connected to the studio has revealed that the designs of the female characters were intentionally made less feminine in order to avoid offending the trans community.
The alleged source, who spoke with Australian pop-culture news site Sausage Roll under the condition of anonymity, claimed that environment surrounding the game’s development was “very divisive”and how “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.”
The source explained, “I don’t doubt, even for a moment, that this leak came from the studio. The Last of Us Part 2 is very divisive and, as you can imagine, some of the team aren’t really thrilled to be working on the game.”
They added, “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.”
Though this focus on sensitivity remains unconfirmed, the designs of various female characters in The Last of Us II provide some support for this theory.
Ellie can be seen sporting a more rugged, androgynous look than in the previous game.
Newcomer Abby is broad-shouldered and built like a brick wall.
And it even appears that Dina’s chest is significantly reduced when compared to her real-life model, Cascina Caradonna:
[Editor’s Note: Image removed subject to DMCA takedown notice from Sony.]
Sausage Roll also spoke with “a seasoned artist who has worked as a character designer for several AAA games,” again under cover of anonymity, who explained that designing female characters without offending trans players was a point of constant troubleshooting across the industry.
This source told them, “It’s not really about the sexual objectification of women. Women, like men, come in all shapes and sizes; to say that having big busty women is unrealistic is untrue.”
The source added, “This is only true for trans people. A trans woman can’t naturally grow large breasts, and not all trans people can afford implants. If you see a game where the women are a little less curvy, it’s not to because the game designers are worried about receiving backlash for sexualising women, it’s because they are worried about offending the trans community.”
They elaborated, “From a design stand point, this is a really challenging problem. I’ve had many board meetings about how to tackle this. Trans people want ‘realistic’ representation in our games, but they feel excluded if they are represented as too masculine or too feminine. That’s why you will see a lot of designers ‘nerfing the female form’ so to speak so that the difference between trans women and cis women is a little less noticeable.”
There is speculation that Abby’s strong build is the result of her being trans, having transitioned from male to female, but as of writing this remains unconfirmed.