I have never been particularly astute or even that receptive when differentiating between employees and the properties their working on; there is merely the projects created and the company that has funded the venture. For instance I couldn’t tell you the conceptual artist involved with Final Fantasy 13 and all of his/her affiliated work. It’s just not important to me, and it certainly doesn’t aid me in formulating subjective, often obstinate views on games. But despite the prior evidence that corroborates my implied ignorance, there was always one name that stimulated visual recognition; Amy Hennig. She was one of the primary creative influences behind 2 of Naughty Dogs most revered franchises in Jak & Daxter and Uncharted. But sadly early this week it was suddenly announced that Hennig had departed from the Californian studio she helped meld into the respected studio it is today. Hennig’s incredibly expressive writing style laced typically generic themes with such pathos and humanity that the archetypal protagonists that characters such as Nathan Drake were expected to exemplify, could abscond from the tedium commonality that gaming heroes were expected to reflect. Placing a credible emphasis on not only on narrative, but character progression as well. Hennig was capable of extracting greater relevance from supporting characters, of what could be considered superfluous. In Uncharted almost every character had an overarching purpose, a sense of societal legitimacy that in turn personified the thematic impact of the personification of good and evil, but also accentuated Drakes convoluted personality.
The dialogue was so resplendently sinuous that you could be forgiven for thinking that the largely scripted conversations you were watching were live, and it wasn’t just a periodic amalgamation of various takes. Every humorous exchange felt organic, and every contrite antagonized proclamation emitted an authentic palpable threat, with indelible conversations that never felt like supplementary tools for progressing the narrative but contrasting, empathetic parley’s that resonated with organic maturity. Hennig herself has become so associated with ND that when courteous assertions to the companies titles are concerned, your intuitive reflex is that Amy Hennig has something to do with it. The dissolution of disbanding such a prominent writer from such a successful stint is bad enough, but the unsubstantiated reports that claim she was forced from the company is a dramatic conclusion that not even her iridescent mind could scribe.
I must admit that I recoiled at such an assertion of her even leaving ND, believing the suggestion as being some cruel jape, quickly rescinded as fabricated speculation. But my indignation to the notion that she was forced out is truly abhorrent, and worse still it’s not completely out of realm of possibility considering the singular statement released by both ND and Sony. The latter’s riposte that confirmed Hennig’s immediate departure was structurally bare and contained a brief and rather sterile summary of her visionary contributions to not only Naughty Dog, but to Sony corporation as a whole. It was primarily comprised on the mitigating impact her departure will have on the upcoming Uncharted title. Surely her departure should pronounce greater significance than one abbreviated examination? This seemingly disingenuous appraisal has only been compounded by Naughty Dogs refute to the allegation that the Last Of Us directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann were pivotal instigators for her swift dismissal. Naughty Dogs deceleration briefly insinuated that all professional conduct in regards to Amy Hennig’s departure had nothing to with Straley or Druckmann. But it still failed to elaborate on the exact particulars of her leaving, with a vague analysis that appears dismissive and latent in conveying her contributive association with ND. Was it an amicable collaboration? A resignation? Conflict of interest? Creative differences? We simply don’t know.
I often perceive Naughty Dog to be a relatively small, independent Developer, almost akin to the cheers bar where everybody knows each others name, and the thought of such nefarious duplicity orchestrated with such disrespectful malevolence is startling, unconscionable and hopefully false. Fans and faithful adherents will not look upon this speculated incident with amiable tolerance, and though questions will be asked and procedures of enquiry’s will commence, the embittered conduct is an unsettling conclusion to such a decorated and passionate writer. Whether the speculation surrounding her forceful dismissal can be verified, or authenticated (which I hope not), her absconded presence is a severe dent on ND’s solid reputation. Now every interview, regardless of the precedent will be tainted by enquiries into Hennig’s departure, and whether diplomatic correspondence was mutually binding, or if it was dismissal rather than mutual servility will probably never be substantiated. But I’ve dwelled too long on rumour and supposition and would rather commemorate her illustrious influence.
The fact that Hennig excelled–despite the implication that her gender was a deficiency–in this century shouldn’t be exceptional, but it is. She prospered in a domain many still considered dominated by masculinity, and despite not experiencing sexism directly, has risen above the restraining margins of misogyny still prevalent in the industry. A once marginalised industry that has slowly adapted to influx of female interest, that is vital to the progression of gaming, and the accurate portrayal of both females and men in this medium. Not only a heroine to female gamers, but a paternal acolyte for sophisticated narratives too by transcending the linearity of a stories expected structure. The beautiful vibrancy, riveting cinematic’s, richly populated by dynamic breadth of character intricacies were rendered by teams of exceptional individuals with exemplary creativity, that was only enhanced by Hennig’s mediating, who crucially exemplified each and every game she collaborated on. Despite the sombre tone and insinuation that this is some form of effigy, this isn’t an obituary, but a testimonial to her endeavour as a writer who will no doubt progress to other avenues of interest, to which there will likely be an abundance of suitors looking entice her illustrious scribing, and you can’t help but feel that further ND projects will be diminished with her indelible absence.
But regardless, I wish her the best of luck in all further projects and sincere gratitude for her assistance in the creation of one of gaming’s most dynamic protagonist in gaming; Nathan Drake. It’s creations such as this that reminds me how important gaming is to me. Thank you Amy Hennig. Thank you.