I enjoy my career, mainly because of the people I get to interact with daily and that the work is challenging, engaging, and ever-changing. From data collection and data interpretation to software regression and research and development, the work is a puzzle to be solved. Now you probably are wondering where this is going, based off the title alone, so let’s see how these lines melt together.
On June 19, 2020, Naughty Dog released The Last of Us Part II–a game that many (myself included) had waited a copious amount of time for. The story follows Ellie as she navigates the unforgiving, infected wilderness of Seattle after an intense, life-changing moment propels her to exact justice and seek closure. It’s a game I will never forget playing, for sure. I picked this game up in October of 2020 and spent days scavenging the eerie, decaying, but beautiful landscapes. I felt connected to the story and to the time I invested into the game. I did not think that It was going to get any more in sync than that, but as I strolled through an infected, dust-ridden, rundown hotel, I stopped in my tracks and froze.
Now, at this point you will either laugh or shake your head and stare at this article with the coldest of expressions because I know, for you personally, this is probably not going to have the same effect it cast on me, but what I came across was an ice machine. Now remember, I started off this article discussing work, well when I came across this frigid technology, I saw the machine I physically work on and interact with daily. Here in front of me was a near perfect replica, that had obvious changes to its design, but here in this dank, no-star hotel, is an ice unit sitting on top of an ice bin, that in real life, I scoop ice out of. This sent my mind into a spiral of curiosity and astonishment, of how and why?
I immediately thought of a 3-D modeling artist either sitting in the break room at work or going out to a restaurant and sketching an Ice machine as an asset for the game. Whether they randomly choose an ice machine to replicate or this was the ice machine they had onsite is unclear, but I was impressed to see something that I’m a part of personally, be part of something else I enjoy. It’s like I introduced someone to someone else and now they are getting married. Such a minuscule aspect in a game brought me to the realization that our world and the digital world melt together to cross thresholds, taking what we know in the real world and combining it with the stories, characters, and elements of an imagined one. Taking what we know and mixing them with elements of our imagination, usually brings about the most concrete, story-driven games; and with a good foundation, an amazing structure can be built upon it. Yes, I thought of this because of a digital ice machine.
I was curious about it so with a few screen shots I mentioned it to Naughty Dog, but with no response. I wasn’t expecting someone to comment and tell me about the long nights they had developing an in-game Ice machine, but I was hoping for some acknowledgement. I then showed a few people at work and some were more interested in it than others, but either way it is definitely a cool nod to our company. Throughout my playthrough, I continued to look for more, like it was a trophy to unlock. When I see the ice machine in-game and combined the real world aspect with my imagination, I put my own spin on it. The fact that our ice machine is in this game definitely means are product can be considered quality and I’m proud that our work will be around for decades both digitally and hopefully physically.
I’m sure ice machines are not considered a necessities in a post-apocalyptic world, but my point is that the attention to detail, the creativity, and the blending of the real and the imaginary, really puts the player in a much more defined and fleshed out world for the player to explore and lose themselves in. I was already lost in the world that The Last of Us Part II provided me, and it was the ice machine that glued my experience seamlessly together, creating a deeper and much more personal experience to my playthrough.
Each of us reacts differently to gaming experiences, and I thought that by sharing mine with you, that perhaps you may slow down and appreciate the finer details within a game and think about how each asset could have been created. With that being said, you can apply that to real life and enjoy the experiences you have had, the friends you’ve made, and the laughs you’ve shared along the path of your own journey. Stay cool my friends.
Have you ever experienced something in a game that meant a little bit more to you then an average player might experience? Where do you stand on The Last of Us Part II? Will they make a third game? Please let us know in the comments down below.
Shane Kelley is a Staff writer for Boss Rush Network, as well as a writer for Another Zelda Podcast. His favorite game is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You can find him on Twitter to talk video games, Marvel, and axe throwing.