The First but Hopefully Not the Last: How The Last of Us Redefines the Survival Horror Video Game Genre

Joseph Tristan Gonzales

Undergraduate Student


Since its release in 2013 on the Playstation 3, The Last of Us has garnered multiple “Game of the Year” awards by many game organizations and gaming journalist websites and has been considered by many to be “one of the best games of all time” for its emotional and character-driven story. For this project, I apply generic criticism, which looks at how a text subverts and adheres to patterns and formats in its respective genre, to analyze how The Last of Us redefined the survival-horror video game genre in relation to the game’s narrative and characterization. Although some of these tropes are present in the game and necessary to stay tonally consistent to the genre, I argue that much of the focus of the game is shifted from the typical situational horror of the monsters and violence to the overall narrative, effective dialogue, strategic use of cinematic elements, and character development throughout the course of the game, which is rare in most survival horror titles. I also found that the game challenges notions of masculinity and femininity through its presentation of female characters presenting more androgynously and being capable in combat, while the male characters are portrayed as being emotional.

2018 National Conference
Presentation type: