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Note: spoiler for a bit of The Last of Us DLC, “Left Behind”


OK, we’re gonna put aside the big themes, big events stuff and talk about one of the most different, most meta, most interesting moments I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Last night I was playing a video game, and, in the middle of everything, I was playing a video game. I mean, I was playing a fantasy, imagined, video game. That. I was looking at a screen filled with Ellie, who was playing the game that I was playing. We were following the same directions, picturing the same things as Riley described them. We were DOING THE SAME THING.

Stopped right after. Had to ponder.

There’s some sort of weird genius there, but I still can’t wrap my head all the way around it. You start wrapping.


That was kind of awesome, wasn’t it?

It had a lot of bits: there was the straightforward “play this mini-game” bit (I was terrible at it–got eaten by Riley’s monster: thought about playing again but it felt like that wouldn’t have been realistic, you know? like, would Riley really go through all that brilliant narration over and over until I won? It seemed more appropriate as a one-off that if I lost, I lost), and the “you ARE Ellie right now” bit, a “childhood fun and games” bit, and also an interesting “you, the player, are the past” aspect: this is something people used to do for fun, and now they can’t because all of that is gone.

The game looking out of the console and saying “hey you, right now, you’re doing something that doesn’t exist in this world.” You’re a ghost in the game-world’s past, still going through motions that no longer mean anything…

There’s also a kind of interesting idea there, that video games in some format (since this arcade machine is not really exactly what we’re playing now) are a big enough part of culture that even kids who presumably never saw them or played them have a grasp of the basics of how they work, enough to make up a pretty decent version on the fly.

Games are a big deal!–but also, they’re gone. So you’re doing something totally reasonable and worthwhile by playing this game right now, but also, you’re stuck in a doomed past.



Very awesome. This weird little DLC is very interesting. Wish we had more like it.

Wow. I didn’t see it that way, but you’re right. Juxtaposed on them not knowing what Facebook is, or the internet. I see that: you, player, are one of the lucky ones.

Yeah, they manage to make them depressing. But also, they are putting you, the player, in the past, as the button prompts, and even the health bars are very old fashioned. They don’t give you the plain old triange/circle prompts; they put them on old school arcade buttons, and give us pixelated health bars. Nice touch. We’re in the past, too. A past that is over.

But that bond….. you are playing a game that you’re visualizing in your head….Ellie is playing a game she is visualizing in HER head, you’re both looking at either side of the same screen…..that’s……effective. I don’t know how it fits into the game as a whole, but it breaks…what…not the fourth wall, because they never acknowledge you, the player, but it certainly gets rid of a boundary in a way that no other game really has. That’s a very neat touch.