UPDATE: Naughty Dog have released a patch which, among other things, removes the phone sex hotlines.
ORIGINAL STORY: I honestly had to double-check this story was genuinely true before I took it seriously. It’s not every day you see the word “sex” appear in the To-Do list. After a quick search on Google it turns out that this story is very much a thing.
A tipster by the name of RevsUnlimited dropped an image on Kotaku’s Twitter a few days ago (June 18) about there being two hidden sex hotlines under the guise of being pest control numbers in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Finding that hard to believe? According to one of Kotaku’s writers, it is in fact true (he tried phoning them himself to see if it was a joke or not, even though he was fairly certain it was).
It’s understandable that the writer assumed it was a joke because of the inclusion of 555 in the numbers, which is commonly used in films as part of fake numbers. I’m willing it take his word on it since I won’t be confirming his testimony any time soon (apparently others have already done that).
Kotaku chased up this little easter egg with The Last of Us’ creative director Neil Druckmann. Druckmann explained that it was “a mistake” that those hotlines got into the game and that work is being done to remove them.
“That was an artist’s mistake,” he said. “What happened was, they put some phone numbers in the game and then they thought they could just change the area code to 555, then it’s invalid because it’s what they do in movies. But I guess that doesn’t work when you have a 1-800 in front of it.
We’re now working to take it out,” Druckmann added. “It was just an honest mistake.”
I get why this would have been an oversight, especially considering the assumption that any number with 555 in them is most probably fake. At least it’s getting sorted with.
I’ll refrain from including the image of the hotlines – or the hotlines themselves – in this article. I do not want to add to the possible fallout that might come from this story and possibly inadvertently reinforce the negative stereotype that gamers have the sexual maturity of ignorant 12-year-olds, and neither should you. After all, it was only an honest mistake. I’m prepared to believe Naughty Dog on that.
What do you think of Naughty Dog’s accidental inclusion of sex hotlines in ‘The Last of Us’? Let us know in the comments!