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Naughty Dog demanded ‘The Last of Us’ be focus tested with women

The last of us

Naughty Dog is trying to change things with its upcoming PlayStation 3 exclusive, The Last of Us. There are plenty of post-apocalyptic games out there, but Naughty Dog wants to do something different than the usual zombies and angry survivors bit. It also wants violence to be a last resort in its game. Last but not least, Naughty Dog wants to make sure that its game is prepped and balanced for players of both sexes, and doing so was apparently not as easy as you’d think.

“[An] aspect that influences how a game is promoted is focus-testing,” Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckman told The Escapist’s Mike Wehner in a new interview, “Players are rounded up and are asked to view materials and answer some quantitative and qualitative questions about it. My big surprise during this process is that the research group [testing The Last of Us] wasn’t planning on focus-testing female gamers – it’s something we had to specifically request.”

It speaks volumes about the way that games like The Last of Us are marketed when groups like the researchers mentioned here, unnamed by Druckman, don’t even consider that there may be an audience beyond the typical male, core gaming demographic. While it’s true that the core gaming audience is overwhelmingly male – the NPD Group found that approximately 71-percent of “core gamers” are men – 46-percent of all game players are women according to the ESA.

The developers producing exclusives for Sony are doing their part to avoid catering to an unchanging macho audience. Heavy Rain creator Quantic Dream is trying to change the way its games are sold just like Naughty Dog. Sony’s marketing partners reportedly wanted the upcoming Quantic Dream game Beyond: Two Souls to have star Ellen Page holding a gun on the game’s cover. Quantic Dream meanwhile “categorically refused.” 

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