Game developer Naughty Dog once again proved that the Internet can be a beautiful and compassionate place. Bringing people together has always been at the heart of the video game industry. The world of gaming is a vast and diverse universe; it is about shared experiences and like-minded people working towards a shared goal.
Until now, we went to the movies to escape our reality and enter an alternate world. We lived vicariously through (usually) overly muscular men with dodgy accents. Now, with this new generation of gaming titles and consoles, we've taken on the starring role (without the accent) within games that play out like real world movies.
We are the heroes. We use these characters, these stories to escape our sometimes unfortunate circumstances. To enter another world via the medium of gaming is sometimes a vital and much needed escape from a particular reality.
Naughty Dog Reaches Out
A touching story has emerged online today of a boy who lost his long-time gaming partner to a terminal illness. To make matters worse, the boy's gaming partner was actually his father. The family was left broken when their leader lost his battle to the illness.
When they were younger, the boy and his father would sit for hours on end in front of the TV, side-by-side playing on Crash Team Racing. As the boy grew older, and his father's health deteriorated, and they would take turns playing Naughty Dog's Last of Us game.
This adventure allowed for the boy and his father to share an experience that was free of any real-world ailments or pain. They played through the game as if they were there. It allowed the boy's father to live and take part in his son's adventures, and it allowed the boy to see his father laughing, walking and even running again.
This all happened within a world that was accessed via a game console - but this world was just as real to them as the regular hospital and doctor's appointments.
After his father died, the boy continued to play the game alone. He would imagine that the in-game character was still his father and that they were still together on one of their wild adventures.
As the family mourned the passing of their father, the boy thought he would write to Naughty Dog and tell them exactly how he and his father played through the game and how he still plays the game now after he has gone. When playing the Last of Us, the boy was transported back to the times where he and his father would sit side-by-side and play the game. This allowed him, in a sense, to be able to be with his father one last time.
This time lost in the Last of Us was time he still felt was spent with his father. For a while he would live vicariously through the characters. Being able to escape into the game made the whole transition of losing his father a little easier.
He wrote to Naughty Dog quite simply to thank them for allowing him and his father the ability to escape the pain of living with a terminal illness.
Three months later he received this letter back from Naughty Dog:
"Thank you so much for writing to us and sharing your story. I can’t begin to tell you how much it touched our hearts here at Naughty Dog. And knowing how involved our games were with you and your father is amazing to hear.
Stories like yours are the reason why we work so hard to make great games, and reading that The Last of Us changed your life is inspiring. When I read that you felt you were with your father again while playing it, it nearly drove me to tears. I can’t imagine the pain you went through these last several months, but I’m touched that we’ve been able to help you get through it."
The team over at Naughty Dog not only replied with this lovely letter above, but they also sent him a selection of limited edition Last of Us merchandise.
A truly heart wrenching story, but one full of happiness, laughter and beautiful memories that were all made possible by simply sitting down and playing a video game with the ones that you love.
This isn't the first time that we have seen a developer reaching out to fans that have experienced unspeakable circumstances, but my gosh, it makes you proud to be part of this community; it makes you proud to be a gamer!
Gaming titles have now become interactive dramas leading us into a whole new world of entertainment for the masses. The worlds will become bigger and the adventures will become even more immersive, let's hope that gaming communities continue to help and support the individuals that exist within them.