The Last of Us, But Hopefully It's Not the Last of It: Let the Games Begin

I'll never forget the excitement I felt when my twin brother booted up our first ever gaming system—the infamous Nintendo Entertainment System. (NES) Seeing the bright, dazzling colors of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda gave me a sense of bliss and elation to this new form of entertainment. It was at that moment when I felt a connection towards video games and that carried on throughout the rest of my life when I played and stacked my library up with other games like Jak and Daxter, Crash Bandicoot, Super Smash Bros., Harvest Moon, Assassin's Creed, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Heavy Rain, Uncharted, and, finally, The Last Of Us.

            So, yeah, I really like video games. Not sure how I feel about the label "gamer girl" but that's a different discussion on its own. My point is is that I've always been fascinated by video games, from a technical standpoint and as a fan. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are the times my older sister and I would pick a part every game that we played together, and go into depth about the visual design, the gameplay, the writing, sound effects, and almost anything that made the game what it is. Our favorite part was talking about characters and how they are developed and portrayed throughout the entire gaming experience, and one of my favorite discussions is when it comes to the video game character Ellie from the award-winning video game The Last Of Us.

            To be completely honest, I was never one to pay close attention to any form of misogyny in video games—-I care more about the story than anything else. I never want characters, more specifically female characters, to feel forced or crammed in for the sake of having "diversity" or anything along those means, but that doesn't mean I don't get excited when I see females being portrayed in such a strong and honest light. The Last Of Us is a post-apocalyptic video game that focuses on a relationship between two characters and how they survive in this ominous world, but it doesn't shy away from featuring a young female called Ellie, who is only fourteen but is undoubtedly mature beyond her years. (But, that's kind of a given when you have to fight for your life in a zombie apocalypse.)  As I played through the game, I did recognize that there was a "gender equality" ideology that the game designers and developers obviously adopted, but never did I feel like it was being glamourize nor did I feel as if the essence of the gaming experienced was being harshly ripped away. Ellie is a character who was kick-ass without being arrogant and strong, but could also scared and vulnerable. But, above all, she was a living breathing character, regardless of gender. There's no doubt that the gaming community has come a long way in terms of transitioning into more socially acceptable gaming concepts, which you could evidently say the same for other entertainment mediums, and seeing the way The Last Of Us has been well-received, not in spite of Ellie but because of her, it makes me want to be more attentive towards the kind of stories that video games, films, books, and TV shows want to tell and how they can have a positive effect on society. "Gamer girl" or not, I'd recommend The Last Of Us to anyone who wants an honest and appealing game filled with badass characters with a crux of female empowerment.