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Video game creator on ‘The Last of Us’ and new HBO series

Neil Druckmann joins Washington Post Live on Monday, Jan. 9. (Video: The Washington Post)

Neil Druckmann is the co-president of the video game development company Naughty Dog and creator of the game “The Last of Us,” which he has co-developed into an HBO series. Druckmann joins Gene Park, video game reporter for The Washington Post, for a conversation about the new television series, his work in video game development and the larger state of the industry.

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“Obviously, the pandemic has been a wild experience. I’ve lost a relative to COVID-19 … But I think it’s just more reaffirmed what I’ve always felt; that we’re capable of wonderful things and really horrible things." - Neil Druckmann (Video: Washington Post Live)
“I like some clear, thematic idea. Some simple concept that everything could be hung on. Without knowing where we're heading, it's hard to make creative choices. Especially when you look at something that's a massive collaboration, like a video game or a TV show. I’m not an auteur. What we do is extremely collaborative. I think that’s why those simple concepts are useful because often when you work with so many people, they’ll come to you with pitches. And often, when they’re very talented, all those pitches are extremely good and extremely exciting or thrilling. So, when you look at five things and you can only choose one, how do you choose? To me the only way to do that is to understand what your ‘thing’ is about. What it is that you’re making, creating. And then to say not which one of these is the coolest, but which one gets me closer to that idea … These days some of the greatest joys I get is being surprised by the people I work with and what they bring to the table. I think it helps make something greater than anyone of us could’ve done on their own.”- Neil Druckmann (Video: Washington Post Live)
“What I have learned over the years … is that people do their best work when they’re passionate about what it is that they’re making. If that wasn’t the case, I’d be working on “Crash Bandicoot 17” right now … When I was working on [“The Last of Us”] … I did not think it was going to be that successful … I just didn’t think it would work as well. But it did. Again, I think a big part of it is because we were working on something that the entire studio was really passionate about. So then when you think about the sequel for “The Last of Us” I think the safe thing to do would’ve been to do another Joel and Ellie adventure … But I think that would’ve failed our process … We made something that the team really believed in and I’m extremely proud of. And it was extremely successful … What I always strive for is not maximum profits. It's enough to be able to do it again. As an artist you want to reach a certain amount of audience ... And then, you're successful enough as a business to be able to grow, hire more people and do it again. And that the position we’re in right now.”- Neil Druckmann (Video: Washington Post Live)

Neil Druckmann

Co-President, Naughty Dog