The Last of Us TV host calls it “the biggest story ever” in gaming

Joel from the show stares off into the distance inside a building.

Joel (Pedro Pascal) from the upcoming HBO adaptation of The last of us.
Screenshot: HBO / Sony

In a recent interview, The last of us showrunner Craig Mazin said that the original game featured the “greatest story ever told” in video game history. Not only is this statement stupid, 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 pieces of interactive art ever made, even though it’s completely unnecessary to do it.

I am not a successful Hollywood writer or producer. (Not yet, at least!) But still, I have two pieces of advice for anyone in the industry. Number one: Treat the people you work with kindly and respectfully. 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. Still, that’s exactly what The last of us showrunner Mazin, best known for his work on the 2019 series Chernobyldid in a recent interview with Empire about upcoming post-apocalyptic HBO show.

“It’s an open and shut case: this is the greatest story ever told in video games,” Mazin said in the soon-to-be-released February 2023 issue of the magazine. For Mazin – who runs the show alongside the original game’s writer Neil Druckmann – the reason this is the best story ever told in a game is because of how grounded it is.

“They didn’t shoot anything out of their eyeballs. They were only human,” explained Mazin. “And that in itself is remarkably rare in gaming. The fact that they kept it so grounded, and really made you feel — I’d never experienced anything like that, and I’ve been playing video games since 1977.”

HBO / Sony

Ignoring the fact that there have been plenty of grounded games released in the past decade—many of which didn’t feature spore-covered zombies or main characters gunning down armies of nameless thugs—Mazin’s comment sounds desperate. It seems like an attempt to raise The last of us above other games, suggesting that this dark, mature tale of survival is “art” and most other games aren’t even close. It almost feels like Mazin is worried that people won’t give The Last of us a chance, and so he’s trying to oversell the narrative to convince people that this latest piece of prestige TV is worth watching even if it’s based on a video game.

It also continues this strange trend of people trying to squirm The last of us to something bigger, more important than it really is. Let’s be clear here: I like both The last of us and its sequel. I think they are a bit too long and the battles aren’t always fun, but I like the stories told in these games. I really like these characters. But Mazin and others do not seem satisfied The last of us just being good. (And these are good games!) Instead, these games must be elevated far above almost every other game released. The last of us can’t just be a great game with a great cast. No it is literal the greatest story ever told in a video game. It’s all so stupid and pointless.

It’s stupid because…really? I don’t need to tell you that most people will take issue with the claim that anything is the greatest of all time. And it’s pointless because The last of us doesn’t have to be the best 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 many can relate to, and I’m genuinely curious to see how Mazin is able to translate it to the small screen while expanding it as well. We don’t need to be told it’s the best thing since sliced ​​bread. Just make something you care about and tell this popular story in a way that feels right to you as a director and showrunner. That’s more than enough. I promise.

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