Let's get the facts squared away first. There's a new PlayStation 3-exclusive game being revealed at the Video Game Awards show this month, called The Last of Us. Sony has released a teaser trailer filled with nightmare imagery of a civilized society in shambles, including brief glimpses of "quarantine zone" signs. A website has launched for the game as well, with little more than the trailer and a second video to be seen for now.
It's the second video which has prompted a bit of speculation, as some fans have recognized it as a clip from BBC's Planet Earth series that focuses on a species of deadly fungus that infects ants, takes over their brains and, ultimately, grows out of their bodies, killing them in the process. This has some thinking that the game's apparent apocalyptic setting will have been triggered by something similar.
While "mind-controlling fungus" does not necessarily equate to "zombies," that's how the Ophiocordyceps fungus was characterized in research that came out earlier this year. Scientists discovered that there are actually multiple species of the fungus found in Brazil's Atlantic rain forest, and that they all possess the same ability to take over the mind of their hosts.
The National Geographic article revealing the findings carries the headline "'Zombie' Ants Found With New Mind-Control Fungi." The "Z" word actually comes from the study's leader, Penn State University entemologist David Hughes, who is quoted in the article.
"It is tempting to speculate that each species of fungus has its own ant species that it is best adapted to attack," he said. "This potentially means thousands of zombie fungi in tropical forests across the globe await discovery. We need to ramp up sampling—especially given the perilous state of the environment."
While this doesn't definitely mean that The Last of Us is about a zombie apocalypse, the presence of that clip on the game's website certainly suggests that this "zombie fungus" in some way relates. You can see a clip from the Planet Earth episode below.