The New Lara Croft Controversy

I never thought I would, in the history of my existence, ever show interest in a Tomb Raider game.  Lara Croft is the biggest (and, I feel, most embarrassing) sex symbol in the game industry–impossibly perfect and tailored in every conceivable way to pander to a male audience.

However, the upcoming Tomb Raider is a complete reboot of the franchise with a new origin story.  The skimpy outfits are gone, as is the tough girl mentality.  The developer Crystal Dynamics, wants to bring a level of maturity the other games never had, and tell a story of a regular girl who grows and becomes a strong character.  This is more in line with what Toby Gard, the original creator of Lara Croft, wanted.  He basically wanted to make a female version Indiana Jones; he didn’t want her sexualized, and ended up leaving when he lost the fight.  Now hope has returned.  No longer is Lara an action-adventure hero, she’s just a young archeologist trying to make the best of a bad situation.

But then the devs said some stupid things–really stupid things–at this year’s E3 that sparked a lot of controversy.  Statements like how we’re not suppose to relate to Lara, but “want to protect her.”  That’s really creepy.  Is this what the devs really think of their audience, and by extension, Lara (or is it the other way ’round…)?  Do they think so lowly of us and their character that no one, or at least their predominately male audience, can’t possibly relate to Lara, and that Lara is some object that needs to be protected?  That’s a load of crap!  Whatever happened to the age-old game philosophy that the player is the character?  We’re suppose to be Lara and relate to her.  We don’t want to protect her, we want to see her succeed–we want to see what happens next!

What’s more: I really like this trailer, but you can’t deny that it almost feels like it’s tailored to evoke certain reactions among male gamers in the line of “protecting.”  If you close your eyes and listen to it, the trailer practically sounds like “torture porn”.  That’s also creepy.  If you think that wasn’t intentional, think again.  And that’s the frustrating thing.  We have a good trailer with a message of an average girl making the best of a bad situation that’s getting lost in the stupid comments of devs like Rosenberg and the tailoring of certain aspects of this trailer.  We should be inspired by how Lara keeps getting back up!  She’s taking care of herself!  That’s role model material!

Time will tell if this new Lara breaks free of the stigma of her old self.  Her icon (she’s never had a character up until–hopefully–this point) carries a lot of baggage.

I don’t think I’ll pick up the game–not right away.  I’ll probably wait for it to hit the bargain bin.  But the fact that I’m considering such a thing–and that I’m so much as cautiously optimistic–is a point in Crystal Dynamics’s favor, I guess.  One thing is for certain, I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this game’s development.

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4 Responses to The New Lara Croft Controversy

  1. theviking says:

    I suspect that over the course of a game or two, she will develop into the tough girl. I can’t see the screaming scared girl thing working for long…


    • Ian says:

      Oh no, the story is about how she becomes tough. She’s going to become that person, but it’s not going to be what it use to be. She’s suppose to be more of real person, and I hope they succeed in that. It seems like CD is moving forward while simultaneously pulling themselves back, with regards to some of the dumb comments they’ve made.


  2. Pingback: Errant Signal - Tomb Raider | Mythgamer

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