In a recent interview, The last of us showrunner Craig Mazin stated that the original game contained the “greatest story ever told” in the history of video games. Not only is that statement silly, but it also continues this weird pattern of people trying to rewrite history to make Naughty Dog’s original PS3 adventure one of the most important interactive works of art ever created, even if ‘it is totally useless to do so.
I am not a successful Hollywood writer or producer. (Not yet, at least!) But still, I have two pieces of advice for anyone working in the company. Number one: treat the people you work with with kindness and respect. Number two: Don’t claim that the movie or show you’re working on or adapting is the “greatest thing ever.” It will always end badly for you. Yet this is precisely what The last of us showrunner Mazin, best known for his work on the 2019 series Chernobyldid in a recent interview with Empire about HBO’s next post-apocalyptic show.
“It’s an open and closed deal: it’s the greatest story ever told in video games,” Mazin said in the magazine’s soon-to-be-released February 2023 edition. For Mazin, who co-directs the series alongside original game writer Neil Druckmann, the reason it’s the greatest story ever told in a game is down to its grounding.
“They didn’t get anything out of their eyeballs. They were just people,” Mazin explained. “And that, in itself, is remarkably rare in games. The fact that they kept it so grounded and really made you feel – I had never experienced anything like it, and I’ve been playing video games since 1977.”
Ignoring the fact that there have been plenty of ground-based games released over the past decade – many of which didn’t feature spore-covered zombies or main characters taking down armies of nameless thugs – Mazin’s comment seems hopeless. . It looks like an attempt to elevate The last of us above other games, suggesting that this dark, gritty story of survival is “art” and most other games don’t even come close. It’s almost like Mazin worries that people don’t give The last of us a chance and so he’s trying to oversell his narrative to convince people that this latest piece of high-profile TV is worth watching even though it’s based on a video game.
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It also continues that weird trend of people trying to contort themselves The last of us into something bigger, more essential than it really is. Let’s be clear here: I like both The last of us and its sequel. I think they’re a little too long and the fights aren’t always fun, but I enjoy the stories told in these games. I really like these characters. But Mazin and others don’t seem happy with The last of us just be good. (And they are good games!) Instead, these games should be elevated way above almost every other game released. The last of us can’t just be a great game with a fantastic cast. No it’s literally the greatest story ever told in a video game. Everything is so silly and pointless.
It’s silly because…really? Needless to say, most people will take umbrage at the assertion that anything is the greatest of all time. And it’s useless because The last of us doesn’t need to be the greatest story ever told in video game history to warrant a TV show adaptation. It’s a well-written tale of found family and survival that I think a lot of people can relate to, and I’m really curious to see how Mazin is able to translate it to the small screen while also expanding on it. We don’t need to be told it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Just create something you care about and tell that popular story in a way that suits you as the director and showrunner. It’s more than enough. I promise.