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Naughty Dog's Next Project Aims To Change “Mainstream Perceptions Of Gaming”

Dreaming big.

Naughty Dog

Naughty Dog’s next project may be years away from release, but studio head Neil Druckmann is already making big promises about what his award-winning team will be able to accomplish.

In a recent conversation with his publisher Sony, Druckmann shared insights into Naughty Dog’s goals for its next project. The studio wants to change the reputation that video games have amongst non-gamers.

"[The Last Of Us’] success has spotlighted gaming, illustrating the rich, immersive experiences it offers,” Druckmann said. “I'm eager to see how this new game resonates, especially following the success of The Last of Us, as it could redefine mainstream perceptions of gaming.”

Druckmann said he hopes the Emmy-winning show’s recent success will translate directly to more interest in the medium.

The Last Of Us creator Neil Druckmann wants to change the mainstream perception of gaming with his next project.

Tommaso Boddi/Variety/Getty Images

“This visibility excites me not only for our current project but for the broader potential of gaming to captivate a global audience,” he continued.

As grandiose as his claims sound this far ahead of the mystery game’s release, Druckmann is probably best positioned to make such a declaration. While gaming has been tackling mature themes for as long as the fidelity has allowed creatives to do so, 2013’s The Last Of Us broke through to the mainstream thanks to captivating, well-written characters and its familiar subject matter. The Last Of Us’ willingness to lean into traditional storytelling methods typically reserved for Hollywood production, and doing it just as well as them, is part of what made 2023’s television adaptation such a sure hit.

Gaming and filmmaking haven’t exactly been worlds apart. Since the 90’s, some of Hollywood’s biggest names, like Vin Diesel and James Cameron, have signed on to be part of gaming productions offering their likenesses to creative minds to developers. In recent years, however, there’s been a reversal in the two industry’s relationship. Adaptations like Prime Video’s Fallout and Paramount’s Sonic The Hedgehog movies have helped kick off a renaissance of prestige TV shows and blockbusters. It seems pretty clear that gaming has become a new fountain of inspiration for Tinseltown, especially as public interest in the superhero genre continues to wane.

Games like Hellblade 2 show what technology typically used by Hollywood can do for video games.

Ninja Theory

Even beyond bringing games to the big screen, the two industries have built a symbiotic relationship in how they use technology. Game tech companies like Fortnite publisher Epic Games, have licensed their technology to production companies like Lucasfilm, forging brand-new ways of producing special effects on a budget. In turn, motion capture tech, featured in movies like Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes, has helped elevate how games can convey emotion and narrative, as seen in the newly released Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2.

Druckman said even advancements in how these projects come together have helped him as he continues to find his footing making television.

“Remote work tools have reduced travel and streamlined production processes,” he said. “I've been able to oversee the production of "The Last of Us" Season Two from LA via phone or computer, while it shoots in Canada.”

Whatever Naughty Dog is working on, we know it probably won’t be a Last Of Us game. Regardless, it should be exciting to see when the time comes. Recent titles like the aforementioned Hellblade 2 offer an early glimpse into what talented game developers can do using Hollywood technology. If they could make something as enthralling as The Last Of Us Part 2 using hardware from nearly a decade ago, the sky’s the limit on current or even next-generation consoles.

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