The Last Of Us Showrunner Says Game Handled Death ‘Beautiful’

Craig Mazin says he didn’t mean to imply that video game deaths don’t have an impact.

The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin recently found himself at the center of online discourse after comments he made in an interview before the show’s premiere appeared to undermine video games as a platform for storytelling. Speaking to the New Yorker, Mazin had said that watching people die was more impactful than “watching pixels die”, apparently implying that video game character deaths were less meaningful.

Now, in a follow-up interview with the Washington Post, Mazin has expanded on that statement. Mazin elaborated on the comments, saying that when he mentioned “pixel death,” he was “specifically discussing NPCs” — not the main characters in video games.


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“I think when we talk about the deaths of main characters, they were handled so beautifully in the game and I felt them tremendously,” Mazin says, explaining that he doesn’t look down on how stories are told in games. “If we can like the emotions and the impact that these deaths had in the game in the show, I’ll be thrilled.”

The Last of Us Joel and Ellie show and play

However, he believes that the same cannot be said about NPCs in the game. “I don’t think anyone plays The Last of Us […] felt the impact of random hunters or FEDRA officers that you have to go through to get to the other side of the game. For us, with the show, we want you to feel everyone’s death.”

In the interview, Mazin speaks only for himself, so he does not address Neil Druckmann’s even more controversial statement about how The Last of Us could end the “video game curse”, despite the fact that the industry already has several examples of adaptations being met with most critical and commercial success. Most recently, Netflix’s Arcane and Cyberpunk: Edgerunner were big hits, and the latter even helped turn around the source material’s fortunes with increased game sales.

That said, there’s no denying that HBO’s The Last of Us has been a huge hit so far. The opening episode was the second most successful for HBO in the past thirteen years, second only to the House of the Dragon premiere.

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