by Marcus Brown
Human civilization is characterized by order. We wake up each day assuming that life will act more or less like it did yesterday. So, when something crazy happens, it throws us out of sync, and we react in such extreme ways, whether we act out or we shut down. Take a second to stop reading and and think about how you would react to any kind of major change in your life, if you haven't already experienced something similar already. Imagine what you would do then, if this certain event happened to everyone at the same time. Do you think society would find a way to exist, or is it really every man for themselves? You may think you know the answer to this, but perhaps an in-depth thought process on the matter would surprise you.
For years, movies have tried to show the audience the kinds of decisions and stories that can be created from any kind of catastrophic event. These events are the kind that make everything turn to chaos and create new personas, either in a form of hope or gritty survival. Games have tried this too, and in my own personal opinion, the whole zombie epidemic has become a little bit overdone. So, when I purchased my copy of The Last of Us in June, I discovered a breath of fresh air in seeing the crumbling of society. The game featured not a virus epidemic, but a brain infection of fungus that created the evil that exists in the future. This showed me one of the most realistic imaginings of a destroyed culture that a video game could provide, and it got me thinking about the idea of world disasters and how the world would react. I believe that civilization would definitely crumble, and people will ultimately look out for themselves. That much is not a revelation; it's pretty much common knowledge based off of history and the smallest introspective on yourself. However, I also believe that a human has a choice to be who they need or want to be, even in the face of ruin. It has to be about balance.
The Last of Us deals with two major components of survival in the human world: the factor of society, law and ethics in a society, and the human element of doing what is necessary to survive in such a world.
Within the first 15 minutes of the game, the player witnesses the overwhelming panic of a people involved in a chaos of incomprehensible proportions. Fires, screaming, people dying. It's incredibly overwhelming. Later, the player sees how the world has been after having to live in the aftermath for so long. In a certain way, it's a sort of government, though it involves more regulation than living. I believe this to be the closest to reality concerning a post-apocalyptic world that a planet can get. In the face of drastic events, drastic change happens. I can speak of this because of personal experience. My father, after serious health problems, died when I was 12. Everything had to change after that. If that happened for me, imagine how it would happen for 7 billion people. The necessities change, and the idea of a day-to-day life becomes something so much simpler.
Half of the enemy force in the game is the more gritty form of survival in this setting: the hunters. These people are not truly evil. They have just been corrupted by the idea of doing what it takes to live, with little regard to anyone outside of their family. This cynicism for life can be seen even today: in gangs, cartels, bad families and other examples. When stripped of the community values and expectations of what is expected of you, then you become something much simpler and drastic. You become a survivor.
How do you live in this world? Well, that's up to you ultimately. There is no decision that can be made. This is a question of morals and what you believe in. I'll ask again: take a second to think about how you would react in a world when everything screams for you to be ruthless, immoral and self-preserving. Perhaps your answer will determine how you live in this world.