Newsbeat

Last Of Us 2 developer condemns death threats and harassment

Ellie in The Last of Us 2 Image copyright SONY

"Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast."

The words posted online by Naughty Dog, the development studio behind The Last Of Us Part 2.

The statement was written after members of the team that made the game shared messages they'd been sent online.

Actor Laura Bailey posted screenshots saying: "I'm going to find where you live and slaughter you."

Naughty Dog said of staff: "Their safety is our top priority, but we must all work together to root out this type of behaviour and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse."

Game director Neil Druckmann shared some anti-Semitic messages he'd been sent. He was also described by one person as "radical feminist scum".

The Last Of Us Part 2 features two playable female characters, a same-sex relationship is central, and the game features a trans character too.

"There's something magical when people see themselves in games, it broadens our audience and I think that's important," Neil Druckmann told Radio 1 Newsbeat ahead of the game's release.

The game's diverse cast is also something that Ashely Johnson, who plays lead character Ellie, is proud of - telling us: "I think it's very important for people to see characters like her in video games.

"To have a young female lead, that is gay, makes it feel real."

The diversity seen in the title and some of the events that happen in the game are often referenced in the hateful messages sent.

Cultural change in gaming?

Analysis by Steffan Powell, Radio 1 Newsbeat gaming reporter

Other developers, actors and powerful gaming executives are coming out to publicly support Naughty Dog and their staff.

Many will be hoping this can be the beginning of a cultural change that challenges how people interact with game studios online.

This is not the first time that developers or actors in the industry have faced death threats, and it's also not the first time they've been condemned.

However, coming at a time when gaming is having a series of big conversations about how it can be a safer and more inclusive space, this feels like a more meaningful conversation than has been seen before.

Twitch is beginning to ban streamers for their behaviour.

People are sharing their experiences of sexual harassment at games events and online.

Open and honest discussions about mental health are being had by developers and influencers.

Now the biggest release of the year so far, has got people talking about how to be more respectful to each other.

The big questions are: What happens next? And will those sending abusive messages listen?

Neil Druckmann says he's grateful to those who've supported the studio, saying on Twitter: "Thanks for all the incredible words.

"Just know, that despite all this, if somehow the lord gave me a second chance at making this game, I'd do it all over again."

Laura Bailey added: "I've always believed that good people far outweigh the bad. Thanks for reminding me of that today."

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