The Last of Us is less of a video game and more of a cinematic masterpiece you input commands into. It follows the story of a smuggler named Joel in a post-apocalyptic society ravaged by disease (sounds far-fetched) as he tries to smuggle Ellie, a girl who's DNA might contain the cure, across the country to waiting doctors. It's generally considered one of the greatest video games of all time, and the long-awaited sequel promises to be even better. Unfortunately, a disgruntled employee also heavily leaked the sequel's major plot twists and level details.
So what gives? Why would someone troll their own company and spoil a game they have probably worked on for years? Is this a Joker thing? Does this person just want to see the world burn? Well, it could be. But rumors say that the reason the employee leaked the game was to protest horrible working conditions at Naughty Dog (developer of The Last Of Us series). Throughout the gaming industry, there's a phenomenon known as "crunch." Workers are expected to work around the clock, sometimes without pay, to cram as much into the game before the release date. Naughty Dog reportedly has a terrible "crunch" environment, and it's the type of thing that can make anyone snap.
So the easy takeaway, and not the wrong one, is that horrible working conditions in the gaming industry is a bad thing. So, debate about spoilers aside, we can forgive anyone who would be willing to stick up for worker conditions, especially when Naughty Dog creates an atmosphere where things like this happen:
Following Uncharted 4's release, 14 of the 20 credited non-lead developers left the studio (that's 70%), most likely due to the stress and pressure brought on from development. This in turn has affected Last Of Us Part 2's development, and seems to have only created a vicious cycle.
A near 75% turnover rate on prestige games doesn't say much for the future of gaming, which brings us actually to the harder takeaway. We, the consumers, have to find ways not only to reward good game developing practices but also just good games as well. Boycotting Red Dead Redemption II, as this one gamer did to protest crunch, is a start, but if that's not actively balanced with a good gaming diet, then we'll be overrun by easy to produce, yet high earning mobile games. The Last of Us Part II could potentially carry the type of narrative, and visual quality that would make Oscar-winning movies weep, (Especially garbage like Crash). Still, the only way a game like that can exist, without horrible worker conditions, is if it occupies a share of the marketplace that correlates with its quality. It's a tricky balancing act, and one that doesn't have immediate answers, so we'll just say play your games and do your best. Hopefully, Naughty Dog will too.
Top Image: The Last Of Us II/ Naughty Dog