Ugly Death: Rotting with the More-than-human in The Last of Us Part II (2020)
This article explores ugly affects connecting human and nonhuman in a videogame which troubles player success and anthropocentrism: The Last of Us Part II (Naughty Dog 2020). Re-contextualising anxiously mixed reception of this videogame’s murderous depths, I follow Haraway’s imperative to ‘stay with the trouble’ (2016:2), tracing ontological involvement between humans, fungal zombies and background assets that question both parasitism and human significance. In the first half, I focus on radical negativity surrounding Ellie’s character before following troubling affects into the second half in order to bridge the interpersonal and interspecies in the aesthetics of the backdrop which shadows the player. Connecting Nonhuman Studies approaches (Tsing 2015; Haraway, 2016; Keetley 2016; Sheldrake 2020) to a basis in Affect Theory (Ngai 2005; Berlant 2011), I utilise textual analysis to unpack player-character struggles with meaningful death in the context of ‘hypermarginal life’: rooted fungi, lichen and plants which live and die beyond even the horizon of our sympathies for the animal world. Please note this article has images that you can access via the PDF.
Read Ugly Death: Rotting with the More-than-human in The Last of Us Part II (2020)