Naughty Dog threw around a long list of other names before deciding on The Last of Us for their critically-aclaimed survival game. An interview with the game’s director, Bruce Straley, revealed that other titles in the running for the game included ‘Mankind’ and ‘Americana,’ among others.
“There were a bunch of those one-word ideas, but The Last of Us just felt right,” Straley said. “[At Naughty Dog] we compare ourselves to other forms of media sometimes and book titles are seldom just one word, sometimes they have very long, elaborate titles. There are some movie names that are just full sentences. A paragraph will be the title of a film sometimes. Why do they get that luxury while videogames have to simplify everything down to this blunt, Neanderthal grunt?”
While Straley said that the process of choosing a name for a game can prove difficult, he added that Naughty Dog had a list of over 50 names to choose from, including contributions from himself, creative director Neil Druckmann, and Sony, before eventually settling on the title as fans know it today.
“Most games hit the player over the head with everything and you have to spell it out in clear, bold capital letters, and say, this is what’s happening right now and this is how I feel! And by allowing subtlety to enter into the characters and the experience and even the name, it felt like this is the right decision for us”, Straley continued.
“We still kicked around a few others. In true Naughty Dog fashion, we have an idea that resonates and then we keep exploring other ideas that don’t work, specifically to reinforce the idea that feels like the one we’re going with. We can’t seem to come up with something better even though we keep trying so The Last of Us worked for us, and I’m actually proud of the name. It’s different, it’s unique, it stands out as a title.”