"The Last of Us" Ellie's Voice Actress Speaks Out Against Ubisoft's Sexist Blunder

Voice actress Ashley Johnson who voiced Ellie in Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us" expresses her discontent with the gaming industry's lack of playable female characters and unchecked sexism.

One of the most notable blunders of this year's E3 -Ubisoft's explanation of why Assassin's Creed Unity features no female lead - has received no small amount of media attention, but today the developer got burned by none other than The Last of Us's Ellie. Voiced by Ashley Johnson, Ellie is one of two protagonists in The Last of Us, a young girl who must survive in an unforgiving post-apocalyptic world using her strength and wits. In an interview with VideoGamer.com, Johnson shared her thoughts not only on Ubisoft but on the lack of playable female characters in gaming in general.

Ashley Johnson - voice actress of Ellie in 'The Last of Us' - playing 'The Last of Us'Ashley Johnson - voice of Ellie in "The Last of Us" plays "The Last of Us"

Johnson had harsh words for Ubisoft and the gaming industry in general:

"Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a great example of when I saw the gameplay and saw that [in] their multiplayer you do not have the option to play as a female. I was like, ‘Give me a f***ing break! It’s 2014! How many video games do you have to make to realize maybe have an option to have a female be in there?’ And maybe not just on PS Vita."

Johnson's feelings have been echoed by HuffingtonPost, Slate.com, and even Forbes.com - as well as here on GameSkinny, and from all the attention the issue is getting it's very surprising how little is being done about it. Johnson's words may seem a bit harsh to some, but her outrage is definitely justified and as more time passes female characters are still seen no more frequently.

Between the absence of playable female characters, the poor portrayal of them, and the blatant sexism within the industry itself we can expect to see more people speaking out against it just as strongly as Johnson with increasing frequency.

Published Jul. 20th 2014
View Comments
  • Annette_6354
    Maybe the developers at Ubisoft and other places are misogynistic and actually waging an intentional war against women. They certainly seem stubborn enough. it's sad. I wish they would not make money on their games and just fail, if they are going to treat more than half the population like non-existent garbage. That's the bottom line, that's what they do. So many of us are female gamers playing these games and we are treated like we don't exist, like we are objects for sex and that's all. It really, really needs to change. If developers care anything about their wives and daughters, they will change it. Also, I wish women developers would take charge or start independent companies that make epic games. Something has to be done. The current state of games sucks.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Just a piece of advice, but I'd recommend not using branded images. That means you have to get the permission of the source in question (in this case, VG24/7), which is unnecessary as there are tons of unbranded pics out there.

    Not like it'd be a huge problem, just a suggestion. :)
  • Travis McGee
    Featured Correspondent
    Ah, thanks for the advice. I honestly didn't even notice the brand when I put it up, and I've been too busy to fix it since.
  • Travis McGee
    Featured Correspondent
    I think it's unfair to say that the entire industry itself is blatantly sexist. However, sexism does still exist in far too many aspects of the industry. As of only a few months ago we are still discussing the "validity" of women in esports http://www.newsoflegends.com/index.php/sexism-in-esports-why-cant-women-succeed-as-pro-gamers-17414/

    Little over two years ago and we have women working in game development going to twitter and revealing horrifying accounts of the discrimination they face at work http://kotaku.com/5963528/heres-a-devastating-account-of-the-crap-women-in-the-games-business-have-to-deal-with-in-2012

    And most recently Ubisoft's choice to limit the cast of Assassin's Creed Unity to males alone is another slap in the face for women interested in the industry - whether as players or developers. It isn't simply that Ubisoft didn't include a playable female protagonist; it's that when confronted about it their reasoning was half-hearted at best. They may as well have just said, "There are no playable female protagonists because we didn't feel like putting one in."

    So yes, I think it's a fair statement to say that even as of this year there is blatant sexism in every aspect of the gaming industry. That is not to say the industry itself is sexist but only that despite the negative reception of these blatantly sexist attitudes and actions receive from the majority of people we keep seeing them recur. If there was any attempt to conceal the sexism there wouldn't be articles about it as often as there are.

    The silver lining to this raincloud, though, is that with each one of these incidents brought to light in the gamer community we step closer to eliminating sexist attitudes. I don't intend to be all doom and gloom, but to say we don't still have an incredibly long way to go towards bringing equality to the gaming industry in all its aspects would be an uninspired lie.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    These "blatantly sexist" actions, as you put it, are incredibly subjective. I don't view hardly any of them as "blatant" and in fact, to assume they are means you are intimate with the personal thoughts of the individuals who made the statements. That's exceedingly unlikely.
  • Si_W
    Is it blatant sexism rampant in the industry? That would mean that either everyone is in on it or a large number of people being pressured into accepting it.

    As we're talking about people, I don't believe it's the first.

    I also don't believe the second one either, or people would be only too happy to leak it or provide an exposé. Neither has happened to my knowledge.

    Not saying that things don't have to change though, as they clearly do.
  • Zachary Welter
    Featured Contributor
    Voice Actors really know their stuff about game development. After all, they do modelling, programming, write the plot, and do everything!
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    I would say there are examples of sexism, but to say blatant sexism to the entire industry is a bit much. Not to say I don't agree, you really can't argue with "It's 2014, why do you not have playable female characters?". I would enjoy seeing more of it.

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