As you may know, Naughty Dog’s upcoming post-apocalyptic tale The Last of Us stars a pair of main characters: a grizzly, bearded man named Joel, and a teenage girl named Ellie who bears a passing resemblance to Ellen Page. However, as the developers do publicity and interviews in preparation for the game’s upcoming release, it’s becoming more and more clear that Naughty Dog had to fight to keep Ellie in the spotlight. I find that particularly interesting because Ellie is by far the more memorable and striking of the two characters.
For example, in a recent interview with The Escapist, Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann explained that “the research group wasn’t planning on focus-testing female gamers – it’s something we had to specifically request”. This paired with the fact that they also had to insist that Ellie be included on the cover of the game paints the state of game marketing in a particularly dispiriting light. Apparently the going wisdom is that women don’t play videogames, so they shouldn’t focus test them, and men won’t buy games with women on the cover.