Does Ellie Being LGBT Change Playing The Last of Us?

Categories: Gaming

elliegay1.jpg
After the revelation of Ellie's kiss in Left Behind, the downloadable expansion to The Last of Us, I decided two things. One, that I was sufficiently over being terrified of the game the first time to give it another go, and two, that I was curious whether or not the game would feel different knowing that Ellie was gay.

When I first reviewed The Last of Us one of the things that I most applauded the game for was the character of Bill. Bill was Joel's smuggling contact, a paranoid loner that lived in the overrun and extremely booby-trapped town of Lincoln. Joel and Ellie meet up with Bill hoping to cash in some favors and get a car to head west in.

Bill is also gay, something that you don't realize until you come across the body of his ex-lover Frank. Frank had grown tired of Bill's small-mindedness and set-in-his-ways attitude, and had attempted to steal the car battery Bill was going to give to Joel. In the process he was bitten, infected, and hanged himself after leaving a very rude note for Bill to find.

What makes Bill and this chapter of the game so awesome is the fact that for the first time I can ever remember a major character in a Triple A game was homosexual and was actually a regular person. Bill's story and personality would not have changed a single iota if Frank had been Francine, and I saw it as a major step forward for portrayals of non-hetero characters in gaming.

Now we're to understand that Ellie, who is essentially the secondary protagonist of 2013's biggest release, is not only gay, but according to Naughty Dog she was always written to be that way. It's telling, when you play the game through without that knowledge that there doesn't even seem to be a hint of that in the course of the plot. Like Bill, Ellie's so realistically portrayed and executed that her sexuality, whatever it may be, doesn't become some awkward statement. She is who she is.

elliegay2.jpg
In my second playthrough, though, I wanted to pay attention more. See if there were subtle hints that alluded to her sexual orientation. It's weird how it makes you reconsider things. For instance, Ellie steals comics and a porno mag from Bill's stash, making it a point to needle Joel by remarking on the enormous penis of one of the models while they are leaving Lincoln in their truck.

The first time I interpreted the scene as a young girl exploring the opposite sex. Now I see it differently. It plays much more as a strange bonding experience with Joel, someone she is still working very hard to get to open up to her. Being a teenage girl, that mostly means annoying him, but she's trying very hard to get him to crack a smile. If anything, it makes the scene deeper.

Then there's her relationship with Sam, who she and Joel run into with his older brother Henry in the bandit-held Pittsburgh. For the first time since leaving Boston, Ellie has someone her own age to connect with. The two share jokes, play with a stash of blueberries, and otherwise have a good time. It comes to a tragic end when Sam is infected while fleeing the city and Henry commits suicide after shooting Sam off of Ellie.

Again, the scene comes out a little differently and even more nuanced and brilliant when you know about Ellie being gay. At first, you just assume girl-meets-boy, young love, etc. Maybe that's what's on Sam's mind. She initially lies and says he's a year older than he actually is in what might be a bid to impress her. From Ellie's point of view Sam is something else. He's someone that's been through the same horrific things she has that she can share with without a big emotional attachment. He's her friend, not a potential boyfriend.

Maybe it's the ending that most benefits from the revelation, though. Joel and Ellie's entire quest has been to try and help find a cure for the infection through her mutated immunity. That's her whole purpose, and the thing that keeps her going. What it is is a manifestation of survivor's guilt brought on by the fact that she had to kill the first girl she ever fell in love with after she succumbed to an infection Ellie is protected from.

Her quest is a one of chivalrous love. It's a monument to her broken heart. When Joel refuses to let her be killed in surgery so her brain can be harvested for cure research, he is essentially helping her to move past that broken heart. He won't let her kill herself because Riley died, just as Ellie healed Joel and kept him going after twenty bitter years of living with the death of his daughter.

How does Ellie being gay change playing The Last of Us? For the better, definitely. I hope other game makers take notice, and then maybe next time we won't have to slip the reveal in through DLC.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
gaysareevil
gaysareevil

I know I won't play it. Queers are evil and should be eradicated. Also, that game is a piece of $hit.

gaysareevil
gaysareevil

 I know I won't play it. Queers are evil and should be eradicated. Also, that game is a piece of $hit.

gaysareevil
gaysareevil

 I know I won't play it because queers are evil and should be eradicated. Also, that game is a piece of $hit.

gaysareevil
gaysareevil

 I know I won't play it. Queers are evil and should be eradicated. Also, that game is a piece of $hit.

gaysareevil
gaysareevil

 I know I won't play it because queers are evil and should be eradicated. Also, that game is a piece of $hit.

gaysareevil
gaysareevil

Would never play this because queers are evil and should be eradicated. Also, that game is a piece of $hit.

gaysareevil
gaysareevil

I know I won't play it. Queers are evil and should be eradicated. Also, that game is a piece of $hit.

mikeesmith1991
mikeesmith1991

2 things you got wrong.  

What it is is a manifestation of survivor's guilt brought on by the fact that she had to kill the first girl she ever fell in love with after she succumbed to an infection Ellie is protected from. 

Where in the story line does it say she killed Reilly?  No where.  It was left open.  She had option 2 and both refused it.  Perhaps it was Marline that took Reilly out or someone else only to find that Ellie didn't change like they though she would.  Marline 'almost' killed her but didn't.

When Joel refuses to let her be killed in surgery so her brain can be harvested for cure research, he is essentially helping her to move past that broken heart. 

Where did you get this idea?  He could not let her die for his own selfish reasons.  Ellie didn't know what was going to happen.  Joel believed that only blood would be drawn.  

What you are now interpreting is that Joel 'knew' that Ellie was gay even though it was never said to us as the player.  You have now clouded your reasoning with self doubt and ideas based on what you have now seen.

When you went back to look for what could have been 'clues' to why, you found what you wanted to find because you were looking for it.

Just because Ellie threw away a mens' magazine doesn't mean she wasn't interested.  Girls her age are curious I believe either gay or hetro.  Just like boys are.  It doesn't matter to them.  We as adults are clouded by our own experiences and beliefs because we have lost that innocence of discovery way back when.  We know who we are.

powelladam02
powelladam02

She's 14 people . You didn't even get Neil's quote right. He said it was written like in left behind. Not the whole game. And even that is taken out of context. Nor is she transsexual.

powelladam02
powelladam02

Oh shut up.

First of all. Stop saying that it was confirmed that Ellie was gay. Nothing was confirmed. Straight nor gay.

"We try to write stuff that’s subtle and that can be open for interpretation, even if I disagree with that interpretation. I always say if there’s nothing in the game that disproves it then it doesn’t matter what I say; the material should speak for itself.”

Saying its up to interpretation is not confirming.

I recall the "material" telling me that Ellie put in the effort to steal a male porn magazine .

"Come on I want to see what all the fuss is about"

"Light on the reading but it's got some interesting photos".

Hardly gay.

Also

"an emotional scene from The Last of Us: Left Behind, main character Ellie kisses her female friend Riley. Does this mean she is gay or bisexual? "Who cares?" game director Bruce Straley says"

On Reddit's AMA, Bruce confirmed that if Riley were a guy, nothing would have changed...Riley just so happened to be a girl in the American Dream comics.

None of this is confirming her being anything. Don't turn something into a tool for your ideals when it's not even full proof.

1234
1234

@powelladam02  actually ellie was intended to be gay, neil druckmann said he wrote the story with the idea that both girls were gay and when the actresses were interacting they were doing it with the idea that they were attracted to each other. Plus you are taking Straley's comments out of context he never actually confirmed anything what he said was I don't think the story would of changed which means that he is just expressing his own opinion, and not to mention he was responding to a bisexual woman, I mean what is he going to say that it would have been different had Riley been a boy, if anything that would just confirm they had some gay agenda. The left behind dlc was based on the american dreams comics and Neil was actually the one who wrote them not Straley. So Druckmann's comments hold more water. The only reason Ellie took the magazines was to annoy Bill and get some reaction out of Joel plus if she really cared for it why would she just throw it out the window like it was trash.

joshuwa93
joshuwa93

Seriously what are you new to the internet? Fucking asshole just spoiled it for me cuz it came up in my google now feed.

powelladam02
powelladam02

Your entire comment is a glaring contradiction.

First of all. The only time Neil said he blatantly made her gay was on a site called gaygamer.net(yeah no bias there). So why is Bruce lie about his view in order to please a bi person but Neil doesn't to a gay person? Not to mention you have no proof the person was bi.

Second of all.

"We try to write stuff that’s subtle and that can be open for interpretation, even if I disagree with that interpretation. I always say if there’s nothing in the game that disproves it then it doesn’t matter what I say; the material should speak for itself.”

This is literally Neil himself saying that how he feels can differ with what the game actually says. Neil's comments hold water? Neil himself would disagree.

Third.

http://m.ign.com/videos/2014/02/24/reinventing-the-last-of-us-ellie-reinventing-thief-up-at-noon

This is a interview with Ellie's own actor Ashley Johnson that Ellie had no sexual orientation and the kiss came out of friendship. Obviously the voice actors were NOT written the way you describe them.

Fourth

Neil is a lead writer. Not THE writer. It's a script not a book. Not to mention that American Dreams was not written by purely Neil. It was a co op between him and Faith Erin Hicks.

Fifth

Yeah because I steal male porn magazines just to make a point that I like women. Good logic. Joel was basically her dad. I don't read porn magazines let alone in front of my dad.

I could name other straight hints like Sam, the guard, her breast comments, calling Riley just her BF and so on.

DarkLord102
DarkLord102

For the same reason Sam wasn't allowed to have a robot toy-it is unnecessary thing to travel around with. She didn't throw it out of the window because she didn't like it-she didn't need it. What was she going to do with it-light a fire?

powelladam02
powelladam02

Then why take it in the first place? She might have even looked at it beforehand.

DarkLord102
DarkLord102

I am saying your argument of ellie being gay because she "threw those gay magasines out" doesn't indicate anything. I like playboy magasines but if i was in a post apocalyptic world i wouldn't have carried them around. Heck they are close to my "heart" nowdays and i don't carry them around in my backpack when i go hiking! It made sense that she threw them out even before she was revealed to be gay. Tell me something. Did you make automatic conclusion that she was gay based on this scene 10 months ago, before LB? I agree that she is gay but please...not with this argument.

redfire204
redfire204

@DarkLord102  so basically what you are saying is that Ellie liked it but felt it was not needed which is the reason why she throws it out. Which means she felt it was unnecessary. But if you consider something's unnecessary that means you don't need it, hinting you never cared for it the first place. And if you don't care for something why would you want it. Why would you say something you like is unnecessary. So your saying Ellie wanted it but deemed it unnecessary so she just threw it out, that really does not make sense.

philipsmike
philipsmike

@DarkLord102  well I would just say I disagree I never got the impression she liked it, I thought she was just playing around.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Health & Beauty

General

Loading...