The road to moral independence: agency, gender, and family in The Last of Us [draft]

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Virginia Tech


... The Last of Us (TLOU) is one of the most literary games of the modern era, and my personal favorite in a long time, perhaps since the equally well-written Mass Effect 2. It is ripe with moral dilemmas and psychologically fascinating characters, and it allows players and critics to discuss gender roles at a con-ceptual depth seldom seen in the video game industry. Much has been said in the popular press about whether the game is fundamentally sexist with some redeeming qualities or fundamentally feminist with some dark spots. It is in fact both. From a purely critical standpoint, it is a sharp, at times virulent, critique of patriarchal gender roles. But its critique is too understated, and most players will be unable to see it and will risk mistaking villains for heroes and sexism for equality. TLOU is the best possible game that could have been written given its constraints, but it could have made its feminist point—which it does have, and which is extremely good—much better.