Bruce Straley is an American game director, artist and designer. He previously worked for the video game developer Naughty Dog, known for his work in the video games The Last of Us and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Straley's first video game work was as an artist at Western Technologies Inc, where he worked on two titles. Following this, he worked as a designer on titles for different companies, prior to his employment at Crystal Dynamics, where he worked as a designer on Gex: Enter the Gecko and Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko.
Straley was employed at Naughty Dog in 1999. He worked as an artist on Crash Team Racing and the Jak and Daxter series. Following this, he became co-art director on Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and was appointed to game director of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. He was later chosen to lead development on The Last of Us as game director, a role he continued during the development of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Straley has received praise for his work. In particular, his work on The Last of Us was highly praised, and the game received several awards and nominations. He departed Naughty Dog in 2017.
Straley worked in the art and design department on two games at Western Technologies Inc: the Menacer 6-game cartridge in 1992, and X-Men in 1993. Following this, he worked as designer on Pacific Softscape's Generations Lost in 1994, and on Zono Incorporated's Mr. Bones in 1996. He was later employed at Crystal Dynamics, where he worked alongside Amy Hennig, who later became creative director of the Uncharted series, and Evan Wells, who later became co-president of Naughty Dog, as well as other future Naughty Dog employees. At Crystal Dynamics, Straley worked as designer on Gex: Enter the Gecko (1998), and provided additional art for Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko (1999). Following the release of Gex 3 in March 1999, Straley was employed at Naughty Dog.
At Naughty Dog, Straley worked as an artist on Crash Team Racing in 1999. Although he was employed as a texture artist, the small size of the team resulted in Straley performing various jobs, including design, background modeling and foreground animating, among others. As the size of the studio grew, the tasks became more specific. Straley acted as artist on Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (2001), Jak II (2003) and Jak 3 (2004). Straley is credited with creating the technology that managed the appearance of the Jak and Daxter series, and having the knowledge to understand the technical and artistic features, bridging the communication gap between the two departments. For Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (2007), Straley was appointed the role of co-art director, alongside Bob Rafei, which involved advancing the team's technology from the PlayStation 2 to the PlayStation 3. He was then given the role of game director for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which was released in 2009.
Following the development of Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog split into two teams to work on projects concurrently. With one team working on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (2011), co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra chose Straley and Neil Druckmann to lead development on a new game; Straley was selected to lead the project, as game director, based on his experience and his work on previous projects. Though they were originally set to develop a new game in the Jak and Daxter series, the team felt that they "weren't doing service to the fans of [the] franchise", and decided to create a new game, titled The Last of Us.
Straley and Druckmann had previously worked together on Uncharted 2, and found that they shared similar interests. During the development of The Last of Us, Straley and Druckmann often joked that their relationship was "like a marriage", in which they have many differing ideas, but ultimately wish to achieve the same goal. Straley's role in developing The Last of Us was to handle gameplay. However, in the final weeks of development, Straley undertook roles from different departments that were busy with other tasks; for example, he was seen hand-arranging the texts on the game's training screens, a task that lead artist Nate Wells found unusual. "I have never even heard of a game director doing that! That's like... an intern task," Wells said. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012, Straley showcased a gameplay demonstration of The Last of Us at Sony's press conference; his stance on the stage became an Internet meme, and was referred to as "The Bruce". The game was released on June 14, 2013 to critical acclaim. For his work on the game, Straley and Druckmann were nominated for Best Director from The Daily Telegraph; it was ultimately awarded to Davey Wreden for his work on The Stanley Parable (2013). Straley later continued his role as game director for the downloadable expansion pack The Last of Us: Left Behind (2014).
Following Hennig's departure from Naughty Dog in March 2014, it was announced that Straley and Druckmann were working on Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (2016) as game director and creative director, respectively. Initial reports claimed that Hennig was "forced out" of Naughty Dog by Straley and Druckmann, though co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra later denied this. Straley presented gameplay demonstrations of Uncharted 4 at the PlayStation Experience in December 2014, and at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June 2015. The game was released on May 10, 2016 to critical acclaim. For his work on the game, Straley won Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project at the 15th Visual Effects Society Awards, alongside visual effects artists Eben Cook and Iki Ikram. After the release of Uncharted 4, Straley took a break from development; he did not return to direct The Last of Us Part II. On September 13, 2017, Straley announced his departure from Naughty Dog, stating that he "found [his] energy focusing in other directions" following his break.