Psychoanalysis of LGBTQ Video Game Characters: Update 1

I know it’s very late in the summer, but hopefully this is all worth it. When I first began my project, I had a very clear idea of what I was going to be doing. As I’ve done my research, especially through my analysis of my first video game, I seem to have ended up with more questions than I answered. I intended to see if historical ideas on sexuality were still relevant in video games today, but I began to see how vague, subjective, and confusing this could end up being. Thus, I’ve decided to lean more towards a Freudian psychoanalysis of LGBTQ characters through his ideas, as well as the historical sexologists he was influenced by. To be clear, my analyses are not reflective of my ideas or beliefs, but are simply an interpretation through these historical frameworks.

The first game I decided to analyze was The Last of Us, as well as its DLC (downloadable content) The Last of Us: Left Behind. The general plot of the game is that after a breakout of a fungal plague that wipes out most of the population, characters Joel and Ellie travel across the United States in the hopes of finding a cure. I chose to start with The Last of Us because for a triple AAA video game, it has a relatively large amount of LGBTQ representation. There are four confirmed queer characters in the game: Ellie, Bill, Riley, and Frank. In this update, I intend to focus solely on Ellie, for the sake of not letting this run too long.

For my observations of Ellie as a character, she is very aggressive, outspoken, and independent. For a 14 year old, she is already adept as a hunter and a fighter. She is somehow immune to the fungal virus, so Joel has agreed to take her across the country to a group of researchers looking for a cure. Ellie grew up without a father, and her mother died when she was young, so she was drafted into living at a military boarding school. While here, she sneaks out with Riley one night, and they both ultimately end up being bitten by Infected. Although Riley dies as a result of the bite, Ellie lives due to her immunity to the virus. Throughout the events of the main game of The Last of Us, Ellie goes from extremely distrusting of Joel to ultimately loving him like a father figure.

The lack of healthy male influence in her life, from this Freudian perspective, could be said to be the origin of her homosexuality. The anger directed towards a missing father, the male military leaders who controlled her childhood and early adolescence, and the male hunters who killed her earliest role models could result in a “hatred” for men. In addition, the guilt she feels over the death of Riley and her mother could result in an attraction to other women. This guilt would also be sublimated as her tendency towards aggression, as it would express the anger she has over the pain she has caused. In addition, Ellie’s extensive time spent with Joel throughout the main game would result in a strong identification with him, cementing her sexuality throughout her adolescence.

Although I only focused on Ellie in this update, I will definitely have analyses of the other characters in my final product. The next game I intend to analyze is Night in the Woods. See you all soon!




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