SIONU: Naughty Dog’s Ideological Leanings

There was an article that came out recently where the lead director of Naughty Dog came out and talked about his ideological bent regarding the making of games.  And from what I’ve learned from that article, I am having mixed feelings about it.  I already talked about my misgivings regarding Disney deciding to make the new Star Wars films about female empowerment.  My argument was that they are starting with an ideological bent first and looking to make good characters second.  That will inevitably hurt their work, down the road.  I mean, we’re already getting to see it.  How can anyone not hear a line like, “I thought this was a rebellion.  I rebel” and not find it the least bit cringe-worthy?  It’s every poorly-written punk character I’ve ever seen.  Do I think that the film will be bad because of this female lead?  Hell no.  I am really eager to see it.  This is the first time I have thought that I am watching a Star Wars movie.  Unlike that other movie.  But you see my point, right?

I have always known that Naughty Dog has a skew toward the SJW mindset.  But never did I realize how far it goes until now.  It seems that the director of Uncharted 4 has taken what the likes of Anita Sarkeesian says REALLY to heart.  Even though there are a plethora of videos from men and women who have all pointed out how wrong her perspectives are.  Still, whatever, right?  I was hoping that all the backlash against the voice actress for Uncharted 4 would have told him something about how trying to appease these people is impossible.  I am certain that he will get another chance to be disappointed by the people he is trying to appeal to.  These people aren’t gamers, after all.

But I can already hear what you’re saying, “You said that Uncharted 4 was amazing!  What’s your complaint about?”  I did say that.  I meant it, too.  I love that game.  That game was the best send-off to a franchise I have yet to see.  After all the ones that I have seen crash and burn.  The biggest examples I can think of are Mass Effect 3, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Life is Strange.  All of those franchises crashed and burned at the end.  Some more spectacularly than others.  So when I see a game that feels like it is wrapping things up this well, I am genuinely happy.  This game has cemented this franchise in my mind as one of the best that will ever be.  I wish those other games had done the same.

Here’s my issue – ideological skews affect one’s work.  This guy has a woman that he reports to in order to make sure the stuff in his games isn’t offensive or whatever.  Is this what we want?  Do we want games to have to be run through some censorship process?  Should artistic work be filtered by people who are afraid of hurting people’s feelings?  Imagine if other games had feared that.  For example, let’s take a look at a scene from Life is Strange.  The two protagonists are at a swimming pool.  They end up stripping down to their underwear and having a splash fight.  While I would argue that it isn’t, it is VERY easy to argue that that scene is fan service.  What if the creators of that game had been told not to put that in their game and decided not to.  There were SJWs who didn’t like it.  Although, Saint Anita says that the game is okay, because apparently Max’s butt is “strategically covered.”  God, that whole video still makes me laugh.  How Uncharted 4’s director could see that and not be in stitches about how stupid it is is beyond me.

What’s more, this was the same guy who worked on The Last of Us, and the Left Behind DLC.  Now I am having my thoughts about those games affected too.  Especially the DLC.  There was the scene where Ellie and Riley ended up kissing.  I do like that.  The reason I do is because there was build-up where we got to feel their relationship over the course of the brief time we get to know them.  We realize that the two were close.  Very, very close.  They never say exactly how much, but you have moments where both of them are having to debate the nature of their friendship.  Through brilliant dialogue, and a couple scenes with facial expression, we get to see the two of them bond.  Now, however, I get to realize that this wasn’t done with the intention of creating a bond that was supposed to be believable.  It was done in order to check a tally mark on the Progressive Stack.  This bothers me.

Art shouldn’t be something that is put through a censor.  It should be something that is free and given room to breathe.  I thought that was the case with Naughty Dog’s games.  But now I know that it isn’t.  These games are being made with a huge process where questions like, “would this work if the character was a girl?” are asked.  That’s bothering.  Does this hurt how I see Uncharted 4?  No.  Does it hurt how I see The Last of Us?  Well, a little.  I mean, my biggest complaint about the Left Behind DLC is still how it ended.  That uplifting speech at the end was retarded.  Not to mention, it went against what Ellie described to Joel in the campaign.  She tells him that it was a very somber thing, how it ended between them.  It’s implied that Ellie may have had to kill her.  That she was the first person in her life to die.  So all that speech at the end about standing tall and moving forward makes no sense.

Another thing that bugs me about this is the fact that I guarantee that Naughty Dog is going to be afraid of making the kind of game they want to make with this mindset.  They are already working to censor themselves.  The gender of Nate and Elena’s went through the SJW filter and they decided to change it to make people happy.  This mindset is worrying because it means that when they get an opportunity to take risks with something, they won’t do it.  Instead, they’ll choose to play it safe and be restrained.  That’s not what good games are made of.  The best games are when a company isn’t worried about what people might say on the Internet.  It’s when a company sticks to their guns and makes the game that they wanted to make.  A filter prevents that from happening.  Disagree if you will.  I’m all about a good argument/discussion in the comments.  I don’t mod, unlike the SJWs that Uncharted 4’s director wants to placate.

I take some comfort in knowing that Naughty Dog is going to get more instances of the SJW crowd being butthurt and getting mad at them for not trying to appease them enough.  I guarantee that that will happen.  These people are never satisfied.  It’s never enough.  Playing that game means that they will inevitably lose.  Here’s hoping that they don’t end up driving themselves into the ground before that happens.  Because I do like this company.  They’ve made some damn good games over the years.  Now it’s time to see if they can move past this.

Until next time, a quote,

“Art is meant to provoke.  It is meant to be provocative.  Sometimes, it’s even meant to be offensive.”  – Chris Ray Gun

Peace out,

Maverick

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4 thoughts on “SIONU: Naughty Dog’s Ideological Leanings

  1. I get your view. You don’t like that the last of us and uncharted 4 were seemingly put through a filter, and that irks you. It irks me too. But something I’ve realized over the last few years, is that everything in put through filters. Everything, for example, that shows up on tv had to be approved by the executives and adjusted based on their notes. Risky ideas are often rejected, philosophical elements are de emphasized, love interests and romances are added in to try and get every demographic. The only people who get to reject those filters and notes are people whose names have become brands alone. Kubrick, Tarantino, Nolan, Kojima, Stephen King, etc.

    If you want to get the most out of big budget projects, you have to come to terms with the fact that everything is a compromise between art and money. Sometimes that’s bad, sometimes it isn’t ( executives often have good ideas too).

    So for me personally, whenever I hear about the political leanings of a games creator, I have only one question ” is the game good?” If it is, then i don’t care.

    I’m also going to refrain from assuming that those story decisions you talked about were made with politics in mind. There’s no concrete evidence for it that I can find.

    • You are free to have your view. I view people who choose to put everything they do through a filter as compromising their artistic integrity. I’m not saying that they are bad games. What I am saying is that now I can’t trust them to have honest motives when they make decisions about a character’s traits. Ellie isn’t gay because she had a character that was built that way. Personally, I think it kind of game out of nowhere. I was accepting of it until I realized that this was done to sell as a diversity choice. As was Riley’s race.

      Let me put it another way – can an SJW make a game that I would like? Absolutely. But I will still be able to see what they are shooting for and depending on how blatant it is, I may take an issue with it. A game with SJW leanings can still be good, so long as the leanings are subtle and don’t get slapped across my face. You are free to believe that filters are fine. I disagree with you, but there it is.

  2. i used to love naughty dog, but that scene in left behind really kick started the idea they are pandering to an ideology. The relationship between ellie and the other girl was strong enough without a kiss, to tick the box of progressiveness. on a technical level these games are astounding, but that matters less as time goes on and the characters are left looking like weak fools, the lost legacy makes sam look like a fucking weak man….among strong females…how original. Disappointing. you might appeal to the popular idea, but its weak. I also found it very interesting Amy Hennig was much more nuanced and artistic with her portrayal of characters, Elena is strong not because shes some badass combat veteran but for other reasons. They missed this point in Uncharted 4,

    • I don’t know what you’re talking about with Uncharted 4. That game was fantastic. All the characters were fantastic. Even the villain was lovably hateable. Never played Lost Legacy, but Uncharted 4 was the perfect ending to a franchise.

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