A silver-foxed lining of staying at home in 2020 is that folks around the world are growing out their hair in pursuit of the “man bun.” While the idea of having a man bun is a fantasy for some, one man in the video game industry has been in leveling up his hair stat for over seven years: Neil Druckmann.
That’s right, the Vice President of Naughty Dog is in fact the President of Man Buns in video games. Or so he was! Revealed during a Fortnite stream, co-writer on The Last of Us Part II, Halley Gross, has revealed the news that Neil. Cut. His. Hair. This is more shocking than the Internet’s inability to comprehend that actors are, in fact, not the characters they portray.
Earlier this year, I wrote an in-depth editorial on the history of Naughty Dog during the PS4 era. In all my research the only true constant was Neil’s hair growth. Interview after interview, panel after panel, mocap session after mocap session, Neil’s hair was always there and growing. What does this sudden change mean for Naughty Dog, for the PS5, and for Neil himself? That’s what I plan to find out.
The Last of Us had just come out for the PS3 and Neil’s career soared to the heavens. So focused on leading the project, Neil forgot to see his barber. They had a falling out, which inspired the final moments of the original game, and Neil’s quest for the perfect man bun began.
We can see the baby steps of the man bun being born. His beard well kept and curls widely loose and bouncy. Clearly the signs of a young pup just beginning to get his hairstyle-bearings.
Neil started winning awards, really putting wind beneath his curls and a comb through his beard. Having jumped right into the thick of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End development, Neil saw no sense in starting the dev cycle hair all over again.
The more awards you win, the darker your hair becomes; that’s a fact. The curls in the rear and on the sides are starting to show real length, brushing just above the shoulder. There is still no evidence of attempting the man bun. Was Neil nervous about how it might look?
Non-Stop Neil is what the dogs at the Kennel call him now. Not because they had finally released Uncharted 4 and immediately began The Last of Us Part II, but because Neil’s hair and beard just kept on growing. His beard almost covers his entire neck. His hair is full-on shoulder length. The maintenance was becoming more serious. Drying it after a shower began taking over an hour and Naughty Dog had to hire someone just to carry a portable fan around so Neil’s locks were never not flowing gracefully.
Will he ever pull the hair back?
Man Bun sighting! On the mocap stage Neil has finally resorted to tying the hair up and beginning his man bun journey proper. Maybe the hair was getting in his eyes while trying to direct scenes? Maybe he became paranoid co-writer Halley Gross would sneak lines and scenes in while he was blinded by his own thick curls.
Some maintenance appears to have been done. Is the beard shorter? Maybe Neil tightened it up before meeting famed game creator Shigeru Miyamoto.
Neil had to let his hair down to vote. When put up in a man bun, the poll attendant was so blinded by his man-bun-liness that they could not recognize him off his ID.
Things have taken a turn. What was happening at Naughty Dog then? The world may never know.
A return to peak form! Neil’s man bun has just the right balance between tightness and loose hairs. The beard is prime. No wonder The Last of Us Part II took so long to make, the entire team must have been blinded by epicness.
But what does Neil look like now? He has remained in shadow after the release of The Last of Us Part II and the plethora of spoilercasts. Does HBO have some sort of “No Man Bun” policy? Has Evan Wells finally had enough and demanded the ability to see again for the first time in seven years? Did Troy Baker sneak into his home and cut the hair out of jealousy?
I have no earthly idea. All I know is that Neil is now shrouded in mystery until he steps out into the light. I do know that with a fresh cut near the start of developing their next game, fans can probably tell how close to release Naughty Dog will be by the length of Neil’s hair in the coming years.