Editor’s note: this article contains spoilers from The Last of Us: Left Behind. You have been warned.
Valentine’s Day, 2014 will be remembered as a historical occasion for some of the events which occurred. Beyond: Two Souls star Ellen Page officially announced that she was gay. Delivering a heartfelt speech to an audience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, the Actress’ decision could not have been timed any better. This is because Naughty Dog released its only single-player story-based DLC for The Last of Us. Left Behind revealing that Ellie – a main character who shares an uncanny resemblance with Page – is also a lesbian (or bisexual).
These two events were coincidentally timed but it was a perfect way of highlighting the importance of the topic. There was a surprised reception from the entire gaming community regarding Ellie’s revelation. And Naughty Dog approached the subject brilliantly: they chose to do it and never turned away. With a majority of people celebrating Valentine’s Day, it was the perfect moment to emphasise that being who you are, irrespective of your sexual preference, should never be looked down upon by society.
Page’s speech was emotional, touching and inspirational to members of the audience and public. During the conference, Page said she is “tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out.” The messages she highlighted through the course of her speech would be one that many people feel when it comes to expressing their sexuality.
With the times changing, people are accepting people for who they are. It is ridiculous to think that people are still frowned upon for being someone ‘different’ due to their sexual preferences. Religion should not be an excuse to judge people, especially when Pope Francis made this remark: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Admirable words from such an influential figure and more people need to wake up and accept everyone for who they are.
Games reach out to an audience, which in my opinion, is parallel to Hollywood. So they should be setting the example to people that being homosexual is nothing to be ashamed of and they have no need to hide it from the rest of society.
Naughty Dog’s choice of revealing Ellie as a lesbian was one which left me gobsmacked, not for the reason she was homosexual, but the encouragement I felt from them going through with the decision especially from such an influential company. It was a revelation which would have stunned many on Valentine’s Day, but demonstrated that love is a beautiful thing which two people share and we have no right to judge them for their sexual preference.
Every day children are bullied for being homosexual and made to feel ‘alien’ from the rest of society. Homophobia is disgusting and once the whole of society finally decides to wake up, they will look back and be baffled by the fact that we had not completely accepted homosexuality during the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Mass Effect 3 and Fable 3 also set the message that homosexuality is nothing to ashamed of and it can be accepted in this art form. I am not expecting every game to completely change and fill its titles with homosexual messages or themes, but developers should continue to embrace the change happening around them and not fear to apply it to their titles.
For me, I may have used the word homosexual in this article enough times, but it is one that I despise using. I do not see people any differently for their sexual preference or choose to label them, but respect them for who they are as an individual, regardless of how society deems them. Celebrity figures are leading spokespeople for a generation of individuals who are continued to be judged for who they are, which is always a brilliant message to help many who fear coming out.
Video games, films and all forms of other mediums are helping spread the message that being who you are is always important, irrespective of your sexual preference. Being a lifelong gamer, it makes me proud to see industry shifting in a positive route and developers opening up to ideas and themes such as embracing everyone for who they truly are.