At E3, the biggest video game show of the year, the spotlight has focused on an unexpected moment: a same-sex kiss.
During PlayStation’s press conference Monday night, the video game publisher Naughty Dog showed a lengthy trailer for The Last of Us Part II, an upcoming sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed games of the past decade. It takes place in a lawless, post-apocalyptic future where a mutant fungus has infected millions of humans, turning them into violent, zombie-like monsters. The humans who remain are often just as violent, killing each other for supplies and fighting for survival.
Needless to say, most of the game is pretty bleak and brutal — but Naughty Dog excels at contrasting that setting against genuinely moving storytelling, filled with poignant scenes and grounded, human emotion. And that brings us to that kiss.
The trailer opens on a makeshift dance hall, where the game’s protagonist, a teenaged girl named Ellie, is watching people sway to the music. One person in particular catches her eye: an animated woman about Ellie’s age with long, black hair tied up in a bun, her face glistening with sweat as she gallops around the dance floor with a young man. She walks over to Ellie, and it’s not long before the girl — who we learn is named Dina — joins Ellie on the sidelines for a few moments before pulling her onto the dance floor for the next song.
It’s immediately clear the two have romantic chemistry — and, after a few flirtatious jabs back and forth, Dina makes her move.
To those who know the series, this moment shouldn’t come as a complete surprise: In the expansion for The Last of Us, called Left Behind, it’s made clear that Ellie is interested in girls, but it wasn’t exactly something that was immediately broadcast in front of such a wide audience. But now we have an intimate exchange between the game’s main character and another woman, and it’s played out in front of a massive, mainstream gaming audience.
Needless to say, for the gaming world, which has historically been overwhelmingly dominated by the tastes of heterosexual men, this is a big moment — one that fans of the series have been obsessing over on social media in the time since.