The video material of The Last of Us 2 shown by Sony and Naughty Dog during the recent State of Play is really impressive and not only from a graphic point of view. After seeing it, a big debate started on the net: it is more worth seeing a burnt dog or one PS Vita player stabbed to death?
Ours seems irony, but it is not, at least not completely. Perhaps the right question to ask is: why a dog killed does it seem to have affected the consciences of dozens of killed humans the most? Someone referred to the animal’s realism to explain the empathy felt by hearing its yelps, but the thesis holds little, because in The Last of Us 2 also human beings are hyper realistic, between perfect animations and dialogues that give a background also theoretically more anonymous enemies. So why are the feelings for them less strong than we feel for dogs?
But still: because some have even questioned the possibility of playing The Last of Us 2 for not having to kill animals (theoretically it is not mandatory to do it)? Why does the girl who plays with PS Vita enjoy playing Hotline Miami? Isn’t the world around you brutal enough? Do you need more blood? Or is it a way to exorcise the context in which you live? What if it were a thematic sharing message that goes far beyond mere quotationism? It is difficult to answer these questions on the spot without a more detailed analysis and without leading to the most sinister rhetoric.
What if it’s not just a matter of empathy towards animals but, simply, we considered fun kill people, however virtual? If the contempt for our fellow men, which is first of all epochal, had sublimated in video games obtaining a kind of ethical shielding in virtual worlds? In reality we would never do it, but it is not obvious that we do not have the desire to do it, appropriately repressed by culture and laws. Video games do not make killers, but they certainly allow you to give vent to a part of us repressed in the unconscious, with which we do not want to have anything to do in everyday life and that we pretend not to see or even refuse.
In any case, it is too early to launch into thematic analyzes regarding The Last of Us 2, which we will certainly be able to talk about widely in the coming weeks. Of course, if a gameplay video was enough to elicit certain stances and certain reflections, a lot can be expected from the finished work.