Lara Croft: From big boobs to bloodied and bruised

“She’s human” is pretty much the unique selling point of Lara Croft in Crystal Dynamics’ reboot of Tomb Raider franchise (quoted issue 228 of EDGE magazine). This change of direction, from the hyper-sexulised “action-babe”of days past to the (very) slow realisation that the impossibly sexist curves couldn’t really be offset by any sense of “girl power”, lead to Lara as we know her being made more “real”.

Until now Lara was more about the gadgets, her mansion, acrobatics and adventuring than anything else. With this in mind, a little humanising clearly wouldn’t go amiss. The following remark made by global brand director at Crystal Dynamics, Karl Stewart is, for me the source of a new issue; “she’s not that Teflon character any more”. Whilst Crystal Dynamics appear to be making an effort to changes things, I’m not so sure it’s all for the better.

For those who weren’t aware, the Teflon remark essentially means that Lara is now a fragile human being, like the rest of us. Initially an idea which really piqued my interest, but having seen a series of alarmingly brutal concepts and early screens where Lara is raked in pain, bloodied, dirty and usually trying to tend to serious injury, has left me a little concerned.

Humanising characters is no bad thing. There have been many games recently which have raised the bar by making the protagonist easier to relate to because they’re not all super heroes any more; think the Uncharted series, Heavy Rain and to some extent the Metal Gear Solid titles. Whilst all those examples provided very different play experiences, the technique was similar; it is one which resonates with Crystal Dynamics assertion that the “[new Lara] is human” by showing the protagonist in moments of agony, wearing the physical signs of the ordeal they are facing.

What is so discomforting about seeing Lara in such a state of duress? Well, despite what people my have you believe, not everyone saw her initial incarnation as the “perfect” woman; large breasts, gun play and acrobatics may sound alright on paper, but I can make a list of qualities infinity more important. The idea was that Lara was the perfect fantasy played out in a game – the rather cringe-worthy cliché “girls wanted to be her, men wanted to be with her” was used a lot. This post-feminist creation of a strong, sexy and empowered woman was very popular, but also extremely contentious.

I find something about the new Lara very unsettling. The old Lara, whilst extremely inflammatory, was at least very much an in control and powerful woman – the many issues there notwithstanding. The new Lara is completely at the mercy of her new and dangerous environment, but we still are to cast our gaze down at her, trying to bandage a wound, or clutching limb in agony.

The new Lara Croft, in a lot of pain.

Considering Lara’s history, this younger, slightly more anatomically correct lady in such a horrific state, does strike me as weirdly perverse. The once pin-up who was the object of many a fantasy is still on show for us for all to see, but rather than waving a pistol and pair of breasts in your face, it is now open wounds and great angst which seem to be the order of the day.

As I’ve mentioned, it is not unusual to see a protagonist of a game getting injured throughout the course of an adventure. Although relative to the amount of games released, it is still rare to see protagonists wear their scars on show for any period of time. Three recent experiences come to mind; Nathan Drake takes all kinds of beatings throughout his journey in Uncharted 2, Ethan Mars gets near-fatally wounded on a number of occasions in Heavy Rain and Aya Brea has a damage mechanic based around her clothes being torn off and cuts and bruises showing through in The 3rd Birthday.

Since seeing the first shots of the new Tomb Raider I have voiced my concerns about her portrayal and on every occasion someone has suggested that it’s alright for it to happen to a man, yet not a woman. Well, that’s apparently sexist, isn’t it? Surely female protagonists have every right to get bloodied and beaten as any man? In a word yes, yes they do, but that misses the point entirely. I know the (above) list of examples of protagonists taking visible damage is relatively limited, I could have picked about five or six other examples of male protagonists, yet I still struggle to recall any more female protagonists who find themselves in this same situation.

The reason I bring this up is that I see a fragile female lead as creating a slightly conflicted relationship between the player and the player’s character.  Even from the early previews it does appear that Crystal Dynamics’ new Lara Croft is going to be a considerably stronger lead than 3rd Birthday’s Aya Brea, but from what we’ve seen, the emphasis on bodily damage can really detract from the strong female character and puts her in an even more compromised position than before. This differs from portrayals of male characters such as Nathan Drake in that the use of damage in is done to make them look more believable, but also tougher and more resilient. Whilst Drake was shown to have been dishevelled, and a little battered around the launch of Uncharted 2, the idea was to show a character who was “deeper”, brooding and mostly, human.

Nathan Drake

For further comparison, when we look to the male protagonists in film who take a beating, they’re either the silent, yet always strong type such as Jason Bourne or the comedic hero typified by Indiana Jones. Female representation in films is mildly more progressive than in gaming, inasmuch as you have The Bride from the Kill Bill films and Alice from the Resident Evil films. I say mildly, whilst they are both strong female leads, they’re also extremely vulnerable at times and at others still overtly objectified for the audience’s pleasure. The question here is, can Crystal Dynamics make Lara both strong and human? I suspect there’ll be no comic relief to detract from her plight and from what we’ve seen so far she’s not exactly going to shrug off getting stabbed or hit around the head.

Belinda Parmar, Founder of Lady Geek, crusaders for gender equality within the digital sphere, believes the issue goes beyond Lara and has more to do with the fact that female characters are heavily under-represented within games and the gaming community. She states:

There is too much attention on Lara Croft as the pinnacle of a female character on games. The issue is not just whether she is “real” – (since she is a character in an action-fantasy) but that there is a general lack of variety of female characters in games. With a few notable exceptions females are there to be rescued or fought over, or more commonly their gender is immaterial to their role in the game. This denial of gender is a step up from the traditional stereotyping, however still leaves a long way to go before games have the depth we might expect from good literature and film”

Belinda suggests that until we get anywhere near proportional representation within gaming, the focal point for our attention is on the hyper-feminine Lara Croft-types or the candy floss and cuteness of Princess Peach. Whilst neither representation is perfect, it’s worth considering they wouldn’t be nearly so damaging if they were part of a larger spectrum.

When all is said and done, I can’t really comment too heavily on what effect the new Tomb Raider will have, and whether smaller breasts and trousers will change anything. What I am saying is that in Crystal Dynamics’ search to create a “real” and “human” Lara, it seems that they have strayed from one set of sexist, design clichés into a less explored and potentially more subversive set. I am certain that there’ll be less of an outcry at the new Lara, after all, who can disagree with their intentions? The game does sound really interesting and the new Lara is far more appealing as a protagonist. But, is having her break limbs and getting impaled really a way to show she’s a deeper and more “valid” character? In fact, the idea that to make a more “valid” Lara they have to show her at her lowest point is a knee-jerk reaction and is akin to using a mallet to crack a walnut.

Whilst I have no doubt that Tomb Raider has the best intentions and a team of highly skilled creative people,  creating an arresting, yet problematic image is simply not enough – and in fact it could become worse.

29 Responses to “Lara Croft: From big boobs to bloodied and bruised”

  1. Kat says:

    The thing I loved about Lara (I will mention that I am female) was her independence and strong will as well as her passion for history and how it relates to our species today. The message I’m getting here once you get past the press release’s flowery language is they saw Lara was an icon, and they want to beat her down and teach her a lesson.

    Seriously, that’s just how it comes off. No male character I’ve known of has suffered quite like this. Battle damage is one thing, this is the very definition of excessive. I’m no feminist either, make her equal to a male character by all means! That was the draw in the first place. Why focus so hard on showing her in agony? That’s all I’ve ever seen in screenshots and concept art for this game.

    When I think about what Nintendo also did to Samus (you’ll remember in Other M she was portrayed as a bitch to her superior officer and not the badass bounty hunter she was known for being).

    I see a disturbing trend in the re-booting of once strong female characters, the ones who as a kid I looked up to and thought “Yeah I can be awesome like her!”. Now they’re meek and beaten down, under someone’s thumb or thrown into a situation where they look like they’ve been gang-raped and beaten.

  2. Priceron89 says:

    I like Lara’s new look. It shows that she can take a beating, and i find her female survivor look very attractive.

    Kat I disagree with you considering Lara. Showing her beat up and in agony is not a down-side to Lara, it’s showing her in a more realistic way. It shows no matter how much she goes through she can survive.

    I’m a male and I say why make female characters ‘equal’ to male characters, when you can make them better!

    It’s focusing more on her inner strength than her outer and I like that because to me that’s what makes a character interesting.

  3. James says:

    Or maybe its the fact that the last few Lara Croft games haven’t done so well, so they’ve decided to mix things up a bit with a ‘gritty’ reboot of the franchise. I think that’s far more likely than some patriarchal game designer deciding that Lara is too much of a strong female character and needs to be brought down a peg.

  4. Per says:

    I’ll have to say, that while I was never really a big fan of the old Lara (she came across as too damn super hero-like for my tastes), I’m not sure the new one is a step up.

    Thing is, as pointed out in the previous comments, -every- screenshot we’ve seen the new Lara in, have shown her beaten and bleeding. I’m not sure wether that’s intentional, and in order to get the attention of the gamers viewing them.. but while it worked, and it certainly got my attention, I’ve come to think of something:

    This is bordering to something bad. Really bad.

    If this game sells well enough, it might just bring about a new era in gaming. Rather than “perfect and idol-like”, we’ll get stuck with blood, grit and suffering at an increased rate for every new release of games. If it sells well, and word spreads, it’s not at all unlikely. While I as mentioned am no fan of the old Lara concept, the gritty opposite is something I’d much rather avoid setting a trend.

    Maybe I’m overreacting. I hope I am. Maybe the gritty sales-pitch will fade, and the core of the rebooted game (puzzles, mechanics etc.) will be what we think of, when we eventually look back at the game.

  5. James "iwatttfodiwwfa" Carter says:

    Thanks, Chris, for a cracking article. Whether in agreement or not, I think it’s great that this gets people thinking and talking about the redesign of a character who – for better or worse – has become so iconic.

    I think the cause for the change is obviously Naughty Dog’s Nathan Drake. However, reading this article, I find that (like Chris) it’s not Crystal Dynamics’ intent that concerns me, rather how they have presented the change and how they will present the tougher Lara. Action heroes/heroines from the 3 Bs (Bond, Bourne & Bauer) to The Bride have been emotionally and physically battered whilst remaining heroic. This is achieved by showing them to be the better of their adversary or situation. In fact, the pain and suffering are the means by which the heroism is displayed.

    Often the tortured protagonist will use humour (see Indy, Drake and Bond) to show their antagonist and audience that they have not and will not be beaten. The Bourne’s, Bauer’s & Bride’s of the world defy their punishment through a steely focus on their goal, showing purpose beyond that of their punisher. Which will Lara be?

    My issue is that in Crystal Dynamic’s haste to show the changes they’re ringing, they have yet to show any indication that due care and attention has been paid to the reason for Lara’s plight. I think that Chris has hit the nail on the head by asking if, without such a reason, Lara’s plight could be considered exploitative.

    Thanks again, everyone, for the really great comments.

  6. Egor says:

    I really don’t think there is an anti-feminist component here, just like John McCain digging glass out of his foot in Die Hard wasn’t an anti-male gesture. Whoever said that they were going for a gritty realistic reboot due to flagging sales got it dead on. And it might work, the franchise seems dead in the water and making it more “adult” may help to rejuvenate it.

  7. Chr156r33n says:

    @Egor I think that if we had already seen Lara in other, less painful situations as well as the few arresting images of her bloodied, this piece wouldn’t exist. As James C quite rightly said, this wasn’t an attack on the game per se, but more a warning of what this type of representation may lead to.

    I’m not overly sure which Lara is “best”. The new Lara is more “realistic” but then again the original Lara was more of a cartoon charater anyway. As Kat has pointed out, male characters have not had to suffer this much to be considered as “real” or “valid”, so why should Lara?

    Although the gritty reboot production cycle will continue, the new Tomb Raider will interest many, and the fight against Uncharted will resume again. A large part of me really wants Crystal Dynamics to prove me wrong and blow this whole thing out of the water. That we’ll see the first trailer and i’ll be made to eat my own hat. Here’s hoping!

    Thanks everyone for some awesome comments,!

  8. Chr156r33n says:

    @Egor I think that if we had already seen Lara in other, less painful situations as well as the few arresting images of her bloodied, this piece wouldn\’t exist. As James C quite rightly said, this wasn\’t an attack on the game per se, but more a warning of what this type of representation may lead to.

    I\’m not overly sure which Lara is \”best\”. The new Lara is more \”realistic\” but then again the original Lara was more of a cartoon charater anyway. As Kat has pointed out, male characters have not had to suffer this much to be considered as \”real\” or \”valid\”, so why should Lara?

    Although the gritty reboot production cycle will continue, the new Tomb Raider will interest many, and the fight against Uncharted will resume again. A large part of me really wants Crystal Dynamics to prove me wrong and blow this whole thing out of the water. That we\’ll see the first trailer and i\’ll be made to eat my own hat. Here\’s hoping!

    Thanks everyone for some awesome comments!

  9. Raziel says:

    Isn’t it a tad early to be speculating on what exactly this new Lara is going to be doing in the game and how that suffering is going to affect anything? From all we’ve seen so far, all we’ve been presented, there has been very little of gameplay and even less so of general story. We don’t know if that sequence will amount to anything more than an intro in which she’s dazed, confused and in real danger which could very nicely lead into something more open and heroic for herself, where we’re apt to make use of her survival skills and overcoming the odds.

    I find this article strangely misleading and strangely badly documented before hand.
    I’ve read a study once in one of the older gaming magazines in which female gamers were offered a choice of games to play and enjoy, and what most chose and even came back to was Silent Hill 3 for its protagonist and the way she’s set to handle herself.

  10. Chr156r33n says:

    @raziel

    I think you may have missed what I was saying in the post. I admit that it is early days, but my thoughts (which have been echoed by a number of people replying to this on this website and others) are that Lara is being presented in a really beaten and broken way before we’ve even had chance to see her being strong and resiliant.

    If you could, can you to explain how it was misleading and badly documented? I spent a while ironing this piece out and making sure that it was clear and easy to follow. If I had mislead it certainly wasn’t my intention and I’d like to rectify that if I can.

  11. Valkyrja says:

    It has been rather interesting to see the evolution of Lara. I remember that when the first game came out the guys I knew found areas and ways to admire her “assets”. However, once they moved beyond that (it took a few days) they really expressed how much they loved the game mechanic.

    Until the title releases we have no idea how Lara is going to be treated in the game. The new images being released are specifically chosen to emphasize that the game has changed and that she is no longer some sort of super hero but just someone who manages to overcome the obstacles in front of her with determination and brains. Personally I like my heroes to be super because they do the right thing even when faced with odds that appear to be impossible to overcome.

    It will be interesting when the subject is revisited after the game is released to the public.

  12. FBR says:

    This sounds like Metal Gear 3 Snake Eater!
    Where we had to heal wounds using proper items, such as string to stitch deep wounds, ointment on burn wounds and so on.

  13. Marijn Lems says:

    I share the article’s concerns – I thought the “new” portrayals of Samus Aran and Aya Brea were absolutely atrocious – but when I look at the whole picture, I am very hopeful that CD won’t make the same mistakes. This is supposed to be an origin story that will show how Lara came to be so independent and strong-willed. Because her bodily harm must inevitably be overcome by her own ingenuity and strong will to survive to logically lead to the aforementioned conclusion, I don’t see how that could ever lead to anything but an empowering portrayal.

    I also disagree that (before this week’s trailer) she’d only been shown as beaten and broken. If you look at the very image above the article, we see a woman who, though obviously hurt, seems powerful and in control, able to bind her own wounds and armed with bow and knife that she wears quite naturally.

    It’s interesting that you mention The Bride: that’s actually quite a good analogy. Do you (or any of the commenters) have a problem with this character from a feminist perspective?

    @Kat: “No male character I’ve known of has suffered quite like this.” Off the top of my head: In MGS3, there’s a protracted and very uncomfortable torture sequence that’s much worse than what’s been shown for Tomb Raider so far. In fact, I can practically guarantee that it’ll be impossible for Lara to suffer as much as Snake did in that entire series. And he didn’t quip about his pain, either – he frequently cried out with pain. Moreover, it was even possible in the first game to give in to your torturers, which would lead to Meryl Silverburgh’s death. How’s that for a subversion of male hero stereotype?

  14. Damion says:

    @Marijn Lems

    You took the words right out of my mouth. This is not her being fragile, this is her being human, and in that, you get hurt, you grow and become stronger from that.

    @Kat

    I think you really need re-think what you said, because you are incorrect in your statement of observation. This game is a representation of her struggle, and rise to greatness. Don’t you think there is a flip side to her situation of anguish and pain? You know that she is going to retaliate on those that harmed her, and whoop their monkey @$$!

  15. Damion says:

    @Kat

    Also it shows that as a woman she can go through the pain just like a super solider male, take it, and overcome it. Lara is awesome, and I think that you aren’t giving her props like you should be.

  16. Paraplan says:

    “making the protagonist easier to relate to because they’re not all super heroes any more; think the Uncharted series…” Ehm, Drake maybe not super soldier in cutscenes but in game he can take down a whole army of mercenaries. And thats something only super hero can do.

  17. Chris Jensen says:

    I was one of those rare males who, as a teenager when the first Tomb Raider came out on Playstation, was actually put off by the crass objectification with which Lara Croft was marketed. It put me off so bad that I never gave any of the games in the series a chance, let alone a fair one. The movies with Angelina Jolie were just that much worse, but that’s also because I’m extremely critical of my entertainment and don’t necessarily enjoy superfluous fluff like they were dishing out.

    When I first saw the new Lara on the cover of Game Informer (issue 213, January 2011), I thought it was just a picture of the newest Lara booth babe with a photoshopped backdrop due to how lifelike she was rendered, a far cry from her last adventure on current gen consoles. Opening it up and reading through the article actually ignited interest in the character that had up to that point only been awareness of the series and it’s multiple sequels.

    Do I think that Crystal Dynamics has taken it too far in their zeal to show the new, more realistic, non-teflon coated Lara Croft? No, actually. I can see the points in the article and many of the other posters have made thus far, and each as valid as the last, but I believe this is just a brave step forward toward creating more cinematic and engaging games. We’ve already seen Batman take serious damage by the end of Arkham Asylum, with his suit torn and tattered in places, nursing at least one serious injury by the time the credits roll. We’ve seen Nathan Drake, and by proxy, Elena Fisher, come out about as worse for wear as Indiana Jones, or Marion Ravenwood, respectively, ever has, beaten and banged up, but still quick with glib one-liners and wry remarks by the end of the first Uncharted game alone.

    Lara Croft joining this group and taking it a step further, perhaps even opening the door or convincing other developers to begin characterizing and designing their female roles less as “sex pots” or bratty b****es and more as compelling characters would be a great boon to the industry as a whole and gain it even more credibility, something each Bayonetta, X-Blades’ Ayumi and Soul Calibur’s Ivy character design throws out the window. I’m not talking about credibility with the rest of the world, I mean credibility with female gamers.

    Still, this all breaks down into two areas, writing and design. Let’s hope that CD will pull off something amazing to impress all of us gamers.

  18. Chr156r33n says:

    This seems like it’s coming down to whether you think these images are showing her as stronger or weaker. The teaser shows her in a worse position than the images do, but they highlight her ability to survive.

    Is survival a display of her strength as a character? Yes. Does she look stronger for nearly getting drowned serveral times? No. You can make the same point without going from one extreme to another.

  19. Marijn Lems says:

    Wrong again. The very viseral pain and danger that Lara undergoes makes her continued survival and mental well-being as well as her eventual triumph/escape that much more impressive.

    Besides, showing her as a strong individual isn’t the ONLY point of the game. It’s kind of ridiculous to criticise a game element because it doesn’t actively reinforce one particular part of the experience. Ambiguity and contrast, after all, is what makes great art.

    From the previews I learned that Lara at one point has to look for a medical kit for the ship’s captain, who’s apparently stuck on the island with her. Seeing as she has to take care of him as well as of herself, this is starting to look like one of the more emancipated games of recent times.

    Seriously Chris, I’m sorry but I get the feeling you’re grasping at straws here.

  20. Marijn Lems says:

    Typo: visceral, I mean.

  21. Spankminister says:

    ” As Kat has pointed out, male characters have not had to suffer this much to be considered as “real” or “valid”, so why should Lara?”

    I disagree. Much like old Lara, Nathan Drake is an action movie archetype who gets roguishly dusted up in the fashion of Indiana Jones, with a bloody lip, or wounded in the side/shoulder, the designated action movie good guy wounding spots.

    Drake is entertaining enough as a pulpy pastiche hero, but Uncharted doesn’t have visceral moments like (MGS4 SPOILERS) Solid Snake as an old man, crawling and broken down the microwave corridor. That’s the direction I think they’re taking this in; it’s one thing to tell the viewer about how tough and tenacious your characters are, but in a visual medium, you should show them. I’d heard some grumblings about the fetishization of violence going into the trailer, but I think they deftly managed to avoid that.

    SEK has much more astute things to say on that subject than I, but I’m not worried, at least not after that trailer. I think it got their message of “tough Lara” across pretty well.

  22. Rob says:

    One of my all-time favorite comic book characters is Wolverine, not because he is practically invulnerable due to his regeneration, but because he FEELS every bit of injury inflicted upon him and he keeps coming back for more. I think the new Lara Croft will bring female strength into a bright new focus.

    When players finish that game, they’re going to look back at all the pain and hardship Lara had to go through and think, “DAMN that woman is a badass!” Can’t say the same for any other character who heals almost immediately (halo, gears, etc) whether they’re male or female. I think this is a fantastic new direction for games.

  23. Chr156r33n says:

    @Marijn “Wrong again?” I’m sorry, when did we start mistaking personal opinions for fact?

    As you said in your initial comment, you share some of my concerns as far reboots go. I agree that Aya and Samus are worse off than Lara, but to deny any links at all is refusing to see the issue at hand.

    Also, I was criticising what I’ve seen of this part of game, not the whole thing as you suggest. I know the whole thing isn’t just to see her tortured, but considering that’s all we’d seen when I wrote this, I thought it made sense to look at it.

    I’d like to take this moment to re-direct people’s attention to the fact that the original piece was written when there was only a handful of images to go by. I was suggesting that I didn’t like where the direction this was going.

    “I am certain that there’ll be less of an outcry at the new Lara, after all, who can disagree with their intentions? The game does sound really interesting and the new Lara is far more appealing as a protagonist.”

    I do think the amount of people have gotten really defensive over Lara goes some way to highlighting what we’re dealing with. I’m not denying her growth or empowerment. The suggestion that by protesting about the brutal ways in which she gets beaten is denying her her growth implies exactly what I was arguing against – that she needs to survive a beating to show how strong she is.

  24. CJ says:

    So far I’ve hear from plenty of hardcore gamers and gamer websites labeling the new Tomb Raider series, after the demo and trailer, as horror survival and I have to agree. I have nothing against this sort of genre at all, but from MY impressions of the trailer and demo they’re trying to make Lara Craft from hero to survivor.

    This turns me off.

    Survivor and hero aren’t the same thing. Sure, a hero is a survivor or sorts but they’re goal is always selfless. Even anti-heros like Indiana Jones. He may have been racing for the Ark of the Covenant, while dodging every kind of artillery shell, but in the end he made sure it never saw the light of day again, saving the world. But a survivor’s main goal is to survive. Yes I’m aware that Lara is trying to nurse her friend and captain’s injury, but in the end what is she doing that’s selfless? I could easily say she wants the captain to live because being alone on island with a bunch of violent savages and wildlife scares the hell out of her. Being alone in a horrible situation is far more frightening than enduring it with a companion. I think we can all agree on that.

    So my main problem with this new fragile “human” survivalist Lara is the transition from bloody, human girl to the strong, pistol wielding woman everyone knows. By the images and demos, it seems the developers really, really, REALLY want to make Lara human. I might have anticipated this type of game/character, but the fact that I’m aware of their end goal of character development, I’m doubtful. Someone who has suffered through trauma like that, doesn’t come out on top (not unless they’re fictional–which they want Lara to be HUMAN). Again, if I hadn’t a clue what would become of her AFTER she left that island, I’d be more invested in her character. Her goal is to survive and she will. But this is Lara Craft–tomb raider, puzzle solver, extrodinair. I know she will survive and take something huge from this experience. The only way they can pull this off is by creating a whole new and different Lara Craft. Making her into something unfamiliar to the huge fanbase–risky but it might work. But as of now, I’m still cynical.

    In the trailer for FarCry 3, we have a protagonist with the same problem as Lara Craft. Except our protagonist here has to face insane people with guns. I won’t bore you with details but this guy’s goal is solely to get the hell off the island alive. From the suspenseful trailer, I find his survival situation more endearing, not because he’s male (I’m a girl, yea know?) but because that’s his main goal–to get off the freakin’ island–the only thing we as the players care about. He wants to live and I can understand that (and the fact that it’s not me who’s on the island but him., so it’s easier to, um, enjoy). Unlike him, we know Lara’s eventual outcome (as of now at least). We’re aware of the person she becomes and I fail to see the bridge between the two.

    Anyways, I’ll stop thinking.

  25. Vin St. John says:

    To me the attempt to show a more human, fragile character is akin to the recent James Bond movies. In Casino Royale they show Bond screw up a lot – he fails, gets captured, beaten, tortured, and betrayed. Through it all he’s still a likable and even competent hero. And we are meant to gather from this that these events will one day shape the near-perfect Bond we know of the future.

    They aren’t really diving deep into Lara Croft so much as showing an angle that hasn’t been done for Lara before (but has been done for many other characters). That doesn’t bother me. As in the quote in the article, I do believe it would bother you less if part of a “wider spectrum” of female characters.

    I apologize if something similar has already been said in the comments.

  26. Marijn Lems says:

    @Chris: Re: “Wrong again” – yeah, sorry, I let rhetoric get the better of me.

    I agree with you that some of the defensiveness around this issue is of the “let’s stick our head in the sand” variety. For the more honest thinkers among us, however, I think it comes down to whether or not you believe that the visceral portrayal of human suffering can be seen as a viable and ethically sound storytelling element. I think some of the stories and characters mentioned above (MGS1-4, Wolverine, Casino Royale, Kill Bill) are good examples of why I think it can be.

    Tell you what though: if the finished game proves your initial fears right, I’ll come back to this thread and admit that you were right all along!

    P.s. There’s this film that I’ve been chewing over for a while which I’d really like your opinion on. The movie in question is called Martyrs and it’s EXTREMELY hard to watch. However, I thought it was an excellent deconstruction of the “torture porn” issue that we’ve been discussing here; it actually (in a very uncomfortable way) tries to explain why we’re so fascinated by the “spectacle” of female suffering. The film has been accused of misogynism – I utterly disagree, but it’d be interesting to hear your thoughts considering the discussion we’ve been having. I have to warn you, though: a non horror fan will probably not (want to) make it to the maddeningly ambiguous ending.

  27. Marijn Lems says:

    From VG247:

    “At this stage [in the game], our goal is to introduce the player to a character they don’t know,” [the developer] explained. “A young girl, straight out of college. It’s going to take a little time in the campaign to really help us get across the fact that she’s grown. So now she’s just met Roth, she’s got the radio, she doesn’t really believe in herself. He’s got to force her – to say ‘You’ve got to go and do this. You’re the only person who can.’”

    Uh oh. A male mentor, like in Metroid Zero Mission? Sexism alert.

  28. Marijn Lems says:

    Argh! I meant Metroid Other M.

  29. Zach says:

    @KAT – You’ve obviously never played Max Payne or Metal Gear Solid.

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