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Today in things that make us scream incoherently

So We Replaced Sexy Lara Croft With Victim Lara Croft


Update: Crystal Dynamics has responded to some of the concerns about the direction of Tomb Raider.

Ever since announcements of a new Tomb Raider game started to surface in 2010, diehard fans of the series have been anticipating a reboot of the franchise led by the strong, ass-kicking Lara Croft. “Forget everything you know about Tomb Raider, we are exploring things that have never been done before in this game,” said Darrell Gallagher, Head of Studio, Crystal Dynamics. There was a lot to wonder about the new Tomb Raider — given the success of Uncharted, a similarly styled but throughly modern action-adventure platformer, would the new iteration of Lara Croft’s adopt its gameplay and the badassery of lead character, Nathan Drake? However, after the official E3 preview trailer, it became quite clear that Lara Croft had been shifted from being a badass to being utterly victimized. “A big part of that journey is seeing some of the hits she’s taken along the way and why she had to get that inner strength and the inner core to become the woman that we all know. There is that sense of seeing it and being explicit about that. It’s part of the narrative,” Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher told to the Penny Arcade Report, suggesting that it is the violence and tragedy that Lara experiences, not her strength, that makes her admirable.

And so it wasn’t particularly surprising when, Ron Rosenberg, executive producer of Tomb Raider, has gone on record with Kotaku to state that players “will want to protect” Lara Croft as she is “turned into a cornered animal” in the face of extreme violence and the threat of rape. Gee, a woman protagonist facing sexualized violence, how original. Hit the jump for more from the article.

[Warning: the rest of this post will contain discussion of violence against women and rape].

In a recent interview with Kotaku, Rosenberg argues that Lara Croft has not yet become the badass adventurer we all know and love yet, and furthermore, being a female protagonist, gamers (men) don’t relate to her normally anyway, thus, she is a heroine to be protected instead of emulated or admired:

“When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character,” Rosenberg told me at E3 last week when I asked if it was difficult to develop for a female protagonist.

“They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.’”

“She’s definitely the hero but— you’re kind of like her helper,” he said. “When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.”

This reasoning, of course, relies upon a few overused, incorrect, and frankly boring assumptions about women, namely that 1) Women must be protected because we cannot protect ourselves, 2) Men cannot ever relate to women (or women characters) in a meaningful way because we are fundamentally different and share no overlapping interests or experiences, and 3) Women do not play video games and thus have no need of a relatable woman protagonist to connect with (or, possibly, but just as erroneously, female players of the Tomb Raider games also do not project themselves into the character of Lara Croft).

Not only does this game seem hell-bent on invalidating women gamers and the idea that a female character has just as much capacity to be surprisingly competent as a male one, it also seems pretty eager to reproduce and normalize a culture in which women are blamed for being raped. As Kat Howard rightfully points out,

I have a huge problem with there being a game where, if your female character doesn’t fight back well enough, she gets punished by being raped. And my problem is because this hews too closely to the actual reactions rape survivors get. Here is what we get asked: What were you wearing? Did you know him? Did you scream? Was your skirt too short? Were you in a bad part of town? Did he spend a lot of money on dinner? Were you wearing a bra with that dress? Did you let him touch you? Did you hit him? Did you fight back? Did you fight back enough?

Lara Croft will be punished with rape for failing to complete the game objective of not getting raped. The responsibility is wholly upon her to protect herself, it is not upon the scumbag rapists who are trying to hurt her. According to the producers of Tomb Raider, it is certainly not the fault of a culture that encourages depictions of sexualized violence against women. ”The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear,” Rosenburg states. This is a pretty telling observation — in his mind, what makes Lara Croft human is her vulnerability to rape and violence provided that she is not sexy (even though being voluptuous is not the end all be all of being considered sexy, in case he never got the memo). In other words, the only women that deserve compassion after being raped, the only women that could be considered human after being raped, are desexualized women who weren’t ‘asking for it.’ He is drawing a contrasting image between a “sexualized version” of her and a “human” version of her.

To make matters worse, the first thing Croft encounters in the trailer is another woman tied up in what looks like a sacrificial altar, suggesting that this development crew is relying upon characterizing her as a helpless white woman who must be guided by a male player through  the “savagery” of the island. Problematic indeed.

Personally, the worst part about this reboot is that it is taking a traditionally feminist character (who has been embraced as a empowering fantasy in spite of the canonical hypersexualization of her character), one of the most beloved ass-kicking female protagonists in gaming, and warping her and her story to cater to a male-dominated gaming culture (and culture at large). Instead of offering women gamers a game in which we can relate to the protagonist, share her hopes and despairs, we’re left with the promise of  veritable torture porn. The promise of a new Tomb Raider held so much potential to add to a growing selection of awesome women protagonists, especially for women gamers. Ron Rosenburg, I would like my strong women protagonists back, and I would like them without having to experience the threat of rape and rape culture, even in a game. I’ve had enough of that in real life as it is.

(via Kotaku.)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    When I saw the trailer and gameplay scenes from E3, I did think “huh, seems a little weaker than before” but then they do make it explicitly clear that it’s a pre-quel and in that context, it makes sense that she would need to face challenges to make her a stronger person in the future. 
    With that said, I didn’t realized those challenges were about rape. I thought it was more falling down a cliff, or the scene that they showed with the dead body falling on her. Those are still violent and challenging obstacles but those didn’t make a difference between her being a man or a woman – just a person learning survival skills. 
    I guess knowing that it does make me torn… I still believe it’s more of a story of someone learning how to be that strong Lara that we are all familiar with and that no one just wakes up being that amazing without training, practice and experience. However, it’s also wrong to victimize women…. on the other other hand, those are real threats that a woman in a jungle would face from her enemies so perhaps the game is just striving for realism. I guess it can be hard to tell unless you play it and see how they handle it. 

  • Anonymous

    A strong character who happens to be a woman whose origin story involves surviving sexualized violence with the heavy implication that THAT is what gives her strength later on?  What a completely ORIGINAL story, I’ve never seen that one before!  :-

  • Anonymous

    I agreed with the article up until the point where you started arguing that the game blamed the victims for the rape. It’s a big accusation to make based on one trailer, especially considering all the dangers any hero must face in a video game and that none of those are blamed on him/her.

    Still, the turn of Lara Croft from a hero into a victim is very disappointing and undoes all the good that was done by making her body more realistic. It’s even worse when you read the sexist reasons Rosenberg gives for the decision.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. I know what game I won’t be playing (and I’ll be discouraging others from playing, too).

  • Anonymous

    Egads. I was excited that she was more realistically proportioned, but I have to say, bring her back as the voluptuous hero of yesterday if I don’t have to worry about her getting raped whilst I play. Yikers. I mean, that is a serious, real fear for me and most women. Fighting animated statues or zombies is not. Give me back my escapism!

  • Shannon Phillips

    I think there’s a lot of leaping to conclusions here. I mean, when you say “Lara Croft will be punished with rape” — I definitely don’t get that from the quotes, and from the trailer.

    Sexism in video games is definitely a problem, and Lara Croft has never been a shining beacon of gender equality, but I can’t get onboard with slamming this game just based on what’s been shown so far. In a lot of ways it looks like a step forward, actually.

  • Anonymous

     Looks like the next Catwoman offers a similar storyline. It’s like the writers sit around and say, “Wah, writing complicated, strong women is hard. What would do that work for me? Oooh! I know! Hyper-violent sexual abuse. Yup. That’ll do the trick.  Now who wants to go to Chilis?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Yea, I really agree with you. I think it’s just as bad to show someone who is just naturally awesome (cough cough Mary Sue cough) and unrealistic in that sense. It’s nice to get a story of someone starting out and the challenges they face that make them into that strong hero that we see down the road. 

  • Alexander Hooley

     Sorry, I hate to come down on the side of the games industry ‘against’ feminism, but you’re overstating the presence of this and misrepresenting the problem. Not only is the threat of rape only very briefly in the trailer (not excusing it, but implying that it’s a main and recurring threat to Lara is just false), but the connections you/Ms. Howard make between this and Lara’s less sexualised design are invention, plain and simple.

    I don’t know that “Lara Croft will be punished with rape for failing to complete the game objective of not getting raped” isn’t invention, too; it looks like something that occurs in a cutscene, not a part of the game that you can ‘fail’. I seriously doubt there’s an actual chance for her to get raped in the game.

    And there’s just the plain old rule of context. Everything about the trailer so far make the events of the game look like a harrowing, completely serious lone survivor against the world story. Is this the right direction to take Tomb Raider in? Hell if I know, and I can understand being pissed about the disempowerment involved in this origin story, but it’s not as out of place as people are making it out to be when the rest of the subject matter is equally dark. This isn’t action-escapism, this is supposed to be uncomfortable and terrifying. That, and I just think people should wait to play the actual game (or if you’d rather not give your money over, watch it on YouTube) before judging too harshly.

    With that said, Rosenberg’s comments are still disgusting, ignorant, and lead me to think this might be just as bad in the actual game, and there is still probably a strong case to be made that the threat of rape shouldn’t be there at all (everything there is the writers’ choice, etc)…but when you go beyond hyperbole to this degree you just lose legitimacy and end up going after a strawman instead of real problems.

  • Anonymous

    This is not merely in response to the trailer, but the demo and whatever other material was available at E3 last week in which, yes, Lara is was revealed to be threatened with rape in the playable portions of the game.

    https://twitter.com/the_moviebob/status/210078835574706177

  • Gregory Allen

    This has potential. One of the things I hated about Uncharted was how confusingly macho Drake was. I have a hard time believing that a man who nearly died from dehydration in the desert has his white skin complexion and can immediately start doing flips and firefights while rattling off one liners. Having a The Descent-style female protagonist who can out-characterize Drake would be a good get.

    What I don’t like is the language of “protecting” her, like a whimpering puppy, as it defeats the point of independence. It’s okay to give your character adversities to overcome. It proves their strength, but when we have Lara constantly getting the shit beat out of her crying face, it should be her character that pushes through with us pushing empathizing, not sympathizing, with her plight.

  • Alexander Hooley

     Wow. Okay, edited that bit out, because that is goddamned unbelievable, and I’m sorry for not double checking it before I posted.

    I don’t see it making it into the final game, but how did anybody think that was a good idea?

  • John Wao
  • http://twitter.com/vech2008 Vech2008

    There goes one of my favorite characters. Just the language used to describe the game is upsetting. I won’t even get into the threat of rape. It’s depressing that the people who work on games like this don’t even realize how misogynistic they’re being

  • Terence Ng

    On the one hand, the threat of rape in this situation is real, on the other hand, why am I supposed to only identify with Croft as a transformed hero after she’s faced hardships that include rape?

    Call me insane, but I’ve never had trouble identifying with Batman as a hero even though he never faced the very real threat of prison rape in a Bhutanese prison in Batman Begins.

    Something about all the OTHER realistic trials he faced was enough. I would feel the same about Croft.

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    When you say The Descent are you talking about a game I don’t know or that awful movie about spelunkers being eaten by troglodytes?

  • Anonymous

    I’m reminded somewhat of how Samus was treated in the craptastic Other M. Yes, Lara and Samus were pretty sexualized in earlier games, but they were still bad asses. As a female gamer, I could admire them for their strength and enjoy the escapism of playing as a woman who could kick that much ass. But it seems that so many writers and game designers still do not know what to do with strong female characters, so when they try and give them back story and more development they get turned into a victim, someone who needs rescuing or someone with mommy issues.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to simply be able to trust in the devs’ ability to handle it, but look at the language they’re using. ‘Protect her’. That’s there to take agency away from her, why do that?

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    I think realism in gaming can be taken too far. Whether it’s “one mistake and no more game for you!” or “rape is a very real threat for most women, we should have our female protagonist go through it”.

    As rape IS a real threat I a) don’t want to play through it in a computer game and b) don’t think it’s appropriate material for playable sequences in a game that has a huge female audience (instant PTSD trigger). Especially not when you take what Rosenberg had to say about the use of rape in the story telling.The truth will be in the playing, but I think I’ll let someone else handle that for me.

  • http://twitter.com/StevenRayMorris Steven Ray Morris

    They should never let the suits be interviewed about their properties. 

  • Anonymous

    This article provided a lot of enlightenment on this whole situation for me, so thank you for that. Those comments by Rosenberg where just…I mean REALLY? If that didn’t put me off the quick time rape event sure did; that’s more than disturbing. Tomb Raider is one of my favourite game series’ and I can’t believe it’s been changed into this; can’t believe I was defending it.

    As a previous commentator said, I’ll wait until the end product is released and reviews go out for it before I boycott it fully. But right now it’s not looking great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Burly-Snapps/1145610094 Burly Snapps

    Remember this interview with Meagan Marie?
    http://thehairpin.com/2012/04/women-and-video-games-an-interview-with-meagan-marie
    Yeah, I’m really surprised that someone who was such a self-professed fan of Lara Croft who saw her as such a role model would be at all okay with taking the game in this direction.

  • Anonymous

    I think the punishing bit in the article refers to failing quick time events in the situation. Just based on that one point I’d have to say I disagree with your comment of being a step forward.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1232957605 Leah Nardo

    Shades of Samus in Metroid: The Other M?  Dear video game makers:  You ruin everything.  Way to join DC Comics on the bandwagon of completely ignoring your female audience.  It’s not like we’re not almost half the world’s population and a major driving force in consumer economies, or anything.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G4EU7GLSNC6XT4UE6IJCFYY7UQ Will

    I agree that this SHOULD be progress for Lara.  She should be able to take a licking and keep on ticking, just like male protagonists like John McClane, Indiana Jones, Nathan Drake, etc.  But then this exec totally ruins that potential with these ridiculous quotes, and with the weird rapey content.

    I’m still cautiously looking forward to this, mostly because the Uncharted ripoff gameplay feels much more appealing than the original Tomb Raider format.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Yea, I do think his commentary is really crappy and I don’t have an explanation out of that one. 

  • http://twitter.com/Mia_says_what Mia R.

    Make players “feel protective” of Laura, and act like “her helper”? Last time I checked, the game was supposed to be about LAURA, not about Laura and her tiny invisible fairy helper telling her what to do because she’s clueless how to survive.

    Male players are “unable to relate” to female characters? WTF, game devs!? I’m sorry, did you just sleep through the past 15 years where female players managed to connect with male characters JUST FINE?

    Characters aren’t limited to their gender when it comes to appeal. If a character is truly well-written, players will connect with them regardless of gender. Look at Chell from Portal. Male players connected with her and GLaDOS just fine, even though the male players had never been a) female or b) a homicidal AI.

  • http://twitter.com/lilacwire Christine

    When I got to college, I nearly broke my bank to buy a playstation so I could purchase the new Tomb Raider game that was coming out at that time. Now? Plenty of disposable income and the idea that my money would be supporting this kind of drivel makes me sad.

    Why is it so hard for designers to believe that women want to see themselves reflected in games? Lara Croft used to KICK ASS and she was one of the only avatars in gaming that I could put myself into.

    Way to go on this, Crystal Dynamics.

  • http://twitter.com/lilacwire Christine

    I wouldn’t have minded if this was a pure survival game, but games with male protagonists NEVER feature them being raped. This is such an old, tired trope. Yes, Lara has a digital vagina, but MUST we make that a plot point?

  • http://twitter.com/SmarmyJerkface Chuck

    “Lara Croft will be punished with rape for failing to complete the game objective of not getting raped. The responsibility is wholly upon her to protect herself, it is not upon the scumbag rapists who are trying to hurt her.”

    I’m entirely confused by this logic, as if the video game character is somehow self-aware and/or a real thing. It’s up to the player to prevent bad things to their digital representatives. If you fail as a player, game over. Whether that be rape, death, whatever. It’s an end game state. Something bad happens, and the game ends.

    How come this has never come up the billions of times Lara has “died” in all the previous installments of the Tomb Raider franchise? Wasn’t it up to Lara not to die? Why didn’t Lara protect herself from death? Isn’t it the responsibility of the scumbag murderers not to murder her? That logic doesn’t fly in those scenarios. Why would it when you simply substitute the word “die” with “rape”?

  • Jackie por

     DEMAND that Crystal Dynamics: Remove the attempted Rape scene & storyline from 2013 Tomb Raider
    PLEASE IF YOU RESPECT WOMEN AND HOW WE ARE DEPICTED IN VIDEO GAMES, SIGN THIS PETITION

    http://www.change.org/petitions/crystal-dynamics-remove-the-attempted-rape-scene-storyline-from-2013-tomb-raider#

  • http://twitter.com/SmarmyJerkface Chuck

    Can all the murder scenes stay in?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    I agree. It’s like the Arkham games – when you die, you have your enemy looking into your face explaining the horrible things they’re going to do to you. I have yet to hear a complaint about this. 

  • http://twitter.com/SmarmyJerkface Chuck

    Attempted rape was a portion of the prison chapter in Mafia II. Male protagonist, escaping rapists.

  • http://twitter.com/giualonso Giu Alonso

    Because “to die” is a threat that male characters face as well, but “to be raped” is not. Why only go with “to be raped” when the digital representative is a female character? 

  • Jerry Snook

    It’s also baffling since it really didn’t seem like a tough thing to do right: Remove the hypersexualized part, make her character realistic and cool, and still have her fight people trying to kill her. She’d be a badass just like in the past, with a few exceptions, the biggest being a new (and more realistic) look. The other exception being gameplay that fits better with modern action console games (a bit more Uncharted-like, shall we say…)

    …and right, Leah (in the comments below). The same issue happened with Samus in Other M (new character, switch to victim.)

  • http://www.whitneydrake.com/ Whitney Drake

    Death is the standard outcome in any game if you fail.  We all know this.  You die and you start over.

    Rape might the “end point” in game play, but it’s something that we know in real life isn’t the end point- it’s something that sticks with people and hurts them in a very real way.  (1 in 4 women will be raped in their lifetime, so it’s not as though a hair number of players probably won’t know someone affected by it and project)

    Rape is humiliation and degradation.  There’s no need to include that in a game that’s supposed to “strengthen” Lara.

  • http://twitter.com/SmarmyJerkface Chuck

    In a harsh world filled with an unbelievable number of assholes, a female protagonist would face even more variations of adversity than a male one. And as a gamer, it’s our job to make sure nothing happens to our character. Rape, assault, torture, death, etc. 

    The whole game isn’t about protecting Lara’s vagina. If it was, THEN there’d be cause for outrage.

    There’s a whole chapter of Mafia II where you’re avoiding prison rape. You, playing as a male protagonist.

  • Adam Felt

    The point of the game is that she learns how to be a hero. You think they teach you how to scale temples and use weapons in archaeology classes? No, obviously. How can she become a fearless hero without knowing what real fear is?

  • http://twitter.com/smoke_tetsu Smoke Tetsu

    Yeah, except Samus wasn’t always sexualized. I mean many people didn’t even know she was a female until the very end of the game. Up until Other M her attire (her armor) wasn’t sexualized in any way. 

  • Chris Scott

    Just a few points:

    1. Crystal Dynamics have stated it never goes as far as what’s depicted, so you don’t fail a QTE and get raped. The actual scene shows the mercenary about to touch Lara’s hip and then she knees him in the groin and that’s what plays out in the game. 
    2. If this was a book it would not be an issue because you view it as a mature and adult platform to handle these issues, which isn’t right, as games should be allowed to be mature as well and deal with serious and adult content. It is entirely right that Crystals Dynamics have the creative freedom to put sexual assault in a mature game and it makes sense within the environment, these aren’t Disney villains out to tickle her in prison they are scumbags looking out for themselves and not following any moral code.

    I see why they wanted to portray Lara as weak because they wanted to make her human and believable as a character, personally I hope the weak version of Lara is a very small portion of the game and she transitions into a badass after some serious events fairly quickly into the game, but unfortunately I don’t believe this is how Crystal Dynamics will handle it.

  • http://twitter.com/smoke_tetsu Smoke Tetsu

    Good example, although more of an exception than a rule.

  • http://twitter.com/SmarmyJerkface Chuck

    Having rewatched that trailer, there are some outlandish leaps in logic going on in this thread. Was there a threat of rape? Sexual assault, sure. Did it end rather violently for the attacker? Yes, and deservedly so. Does it look like a “quick time event where if you fail you get raped”? No. Hardly.

  • http://twitter.com/LikoNatera Liko Natera

    I was playing TOMB RAIDER LEGEND a minute ago and I was shocked to find this note tweeted by a friend. I have to say that as a male gamer that bought every single Tomb Raider game ever released I never thought of Lara Croft as other thing but a strong and capable hero first and (if I had to) a female character last. This new “Tomb Raider” undermines her as a woman more than those ridiculous ‘nude code’ rumors and mods that I never ever cared about. Adventure, excitement and FUN is what makes TOMB RAIDER game. This makes as much sense as a Metroid game where you have to fend-of penis tentacles because Samus is a woman.

  • http://twitter.com/IvidiaKt Ividia Kt

    Sigh…

    She has to face tough circumstances to make her tougher…okay, I get that.  But to pick that particular trope…shows a complete lack of insight and more…

    Have they NEVER heard of Sarah Conner or Ellen Ripley just to name a couple off of the top of my head??

    As for men not being able to relate, I call BS.  I’ve been gaming for years, both console and person to person games.  I personally know a few men who predominantly run / play female characters as a matter of choice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    I hate to be stereotypical here but those kinds of jumps in logic have really turned me off of a lot of female oriented blogs. I understand (as a women, mind you) that women have faced a lot of difficulties and unfortunate circumstances but I do worry that as such, some spend too much time reading into things too much. 
    I just watched the trailer two more times trying to figure out what the rapey scene was and while I did see a lot of scenarios where Lara or another female character being held captive by a man… yes, you could assume that he may try to take advantage. Yea, some of those scenes can be hard to look at with or without that assumption, but that’s why people can choose not to play the game.
    I don’t know, I get really annoyed when there is this much backlash and exaggeration over something that isn’t that clearly shown. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    This is going mostly off of the movies but I kind of felt that Lara had kind of a removed anti-social quality about her kind of like Batman. I feel like this kind of difficult situation would definitely bring that out in a person. 

  • http://twitter.com/Nyoka_ Nyoka

    This is what Ron Rosenberg means:

    “When I play Lara, I don’t really project
    myself into the character … I’m more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of
    dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect
    her.’”
    “She’s definitely the hero but— I’m kind of like her helper … when I see her have to face these challenges, I start to root
    for her in a way that I might not root for a male character.”I hope he learns soon enough that his preferences regarding female characters don’t coincide with his audience’s.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/N4YIKVWPMLCM4HYPGZD7PGEYNQ Valentina

    “Personally, the worst part about this reboot is that it is taking a traditionally feminist character (who has been embraced as a empowering fantasy in spite of the canonical hypersexualization of her character), one of the most beloved ass-kicking female protagonists in gaming, and warping her and her story to cater to a male-dominated gaming culture (and culture at large). ”

    Couldn’t have said it better – the E3 trailers SO turned me off, and the comments from Rosenberg just solidify it.  Not gonna get my money thanks.

  • Jon Cooper

    Everyone hated it when they did this to Samus in Other M. What makes them think people will like it when they do it to Lara Croft?

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone question Eidos/ Crystal Dynamics/ Square Enix or try to see what happens when you fail the QTE ?

    The whole thing feels badly executed by Dynamics. What seems to be a major turning point for Lara where she is forced to kill someone for the first time comes is now being talked about because of the assault.

    I think trying to ape Uncharted in terms of gameplay is a mistake. Tomb Raider is the exact opposite of Uncharted. It’s more about a sense of isolation and less run and gun.

  • Anonymous

    thanks for the clarification on the QTE. 

  • Anonymous

    i dunno, they pretty consistantly gave Samus without her armour on as a reward for completing the game faster/better. certainly not as bad as having it all the way through, but it’s been there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristin-Frederickson/852880113 Kristin Frederickson

    The company has since updated on the issue, saying that it’s not really an attempted rape scene… even though it very clearly is sexually motivated in the trailer.

    It’s sad and cliched that one of the first things they went to was sexual assault when given a female protagonist to write for. Rape isn’t a gendered thing, it can be done to and inflicted by either gender, and yet we’ve constructed this false idea that only men ever victimize women, and that it’s the woman’s responsibility to protect herself from such attacks.

    The idea that defending herself from rape is the event that transforms Lara into a strong, heroic person has some pretty disgusting implications. Does that mean that people who fail at fighting off their rapists aren’t fully formed people? That they’re weak, both physically and emotionally? That they’re flawed? What about people who don’t fight back at all?
    And as for the “men can’t relate to female protagonists” bit, I’d say the problems with that are pretty self explanatory… My only question about that is, wasn’t Lara’s appearance rebooted with the express purpose of attracting more female players? What happened to that?

  • http://twitter.com/GeekLock Dingo

    Wait. Isn’t Lara basically getting the Green Arrow treatment? Trapped on an island, not really able to defend herself at first, survives out of pure force of will and slowly but surely trains and masters the survival abilities she learned growing up, but neglected to take seriously until now. She even gets a bow!

    Ok, yeah, the threat of rape is really shitty (understatement of the year, but not sure how else to put it), but otherwise It seems mostly fine, especially since Chrystal Dynamics has stated that she is only super vulnerable at the beginning and starts to kick more ass as the story progresses. Which makes sense, that is how most games work. They are just giving us a story reason for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristin-Frederickson/852880113 Kristin Frederickson

    During times of war, captured male soldiers are frequently sexually tortured and raped by their captors. Male on male prison rape is a huge problem in the US and many other countries. There are plenty of games out there where you encounter thugs who follow no moral code, yet I can assure you you will never play a Call of Duty game where your male POW soldier is nearly raped by enemy forces, nor will you ever get sexually assaulted while doing jail time in GTA. And if that ever does happen, I can assure you no interviewee is going to try to sell it as an empowering experience for the character.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristin-Frederickson/852880113 Kristin Frederickson

    I think you just nailed it. They’re handling her as a woman first and a hero second, when it should be the other way around.

  • Terence Ng

    Agreed. I always viewed Lara Croft as someone who could damn well handle herself, just like any other video game protagonist. I’m not a helper, otherwise I would have been Navi in Legend of Zelda.

    Why dose Rosenberg feel that he needs to “protect” his protagonist? Does he feel like he needs to protect Link, Batman, or James Bond in any of their games?

  • Terence Ng

    PREACH.

  • Terence Ng

    I dunno, the fact that once you learned she was a woman, she was running around in a bikini was sexualized to me. Not in an erotic sense, but in the sense that “Suprise! She’s a chick! And to prove it, here she is without her armor in an inexplicable 8-bit bikini!”

  • Terence Ng

    Batman’s a fearless hero. Where’s his near-sexual assault/rape story to prove to me that he’s truly fearless?

  • Anonymous

    A while back, I did a post on the sexualisation of Lara Croft and how changing her physique for the “more realistic” (though this really wasn’t the case in the Crystal Dynamics games despite their protestations) is meaningless when one’s changing her personality for the worse.  Agency matters more than physique, in my opinion: a sexy protagonist who has it is better, in my opinion, than a non-sexy protagonist who has none.  A feminine physique is not sexualisation in and of itself: it’s the portrayal and exploitation of the feminine physique which does. Besides, Gina Carano has a decently buxom and curvy physique while also being fit and kickass, no reason Lara can’t be either.

    In Tomb Raider, Lara Croft was a kickass female protagonist who was barely sexualised at all despite being curvacious in certain areas.  It was in Tomb Raider II and the marketing that she was presented as a sex symbol, in ways that are nowhere nearly as prevalent in the first game.  Compare Lara as she appeared in the original games to, say, Anna Williams in Tekken 2 or Elexis in SIN, and tell me she’s hypersexualised.

    “When people play Lara, they don’t really project
    themselves into the character,” Rosenberg told me at E3 last week when I
    asked if it was difficult to develop for a female protagonist.
    “They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of
    dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect
    her.’”
    “She’s definitely the hero but— you’re kind of like her helper,” he
    said. “When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root
    for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.”OK, THIS ticks me off no end, because this exact problem has plagued Tomb Raider since the beginning, except in the older games, it was an artefact of the controls rather than a deliberate story device.  The classic Tomb Raiders were more like grid-based puzzle games: you weren’t controlling Lara so much as you were “piloting” her like a car or tank, which resulted in a fiddly and often frustrating controlling experience.  Thus whenever she died or made a wrong step, the player isn’t angry at themselves, but angry at LARA for failing.

    One of the few things Crystal Dynamics did well is make the player feel like they were Lara, and not “driving” her.  But to read this condescending “protective” garbage about a character who is supposed to be a kickass heroine is simply another form of sexist pandering.  Instead of viewing Lara as a sexually desireable object to be controlled, now gamers are encouraged to view her as a little sister to be protected.  That’s not better: at least the sexual Lara had personal agency as a character, if not in gameplay.

  • Anonymous

    Now imagine that being present in nearly every strong male character’s backstory.

  • Anonymous

    Yes VAGINA FEAR is the only “real fear” for women.

  • http://twitter.com/smoke_tetsu Smoke Tetsu

    So even the hint of a bikini for two seconds at the end of a game is the demonic sexualization? Maybe she should have been a mishappen blob underneath the armor. ;)

  • Anonymous

    Of course. What? You thought you had some sort of “gotcha”? Haha, no. Sorry.

  • Anonymous

    You do not get punished with rape, there is no rape in this game. There isnt even any attempted rape, its essentially just implied rape threat.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Adanac Joe

    Hmm – this is a very good article, and makes excellent points.

    One major problem I have with your line of reasoning, however, is that “ass-kicking” is okay, great, and something to aspire to, just as long as there is no sexual component to it. Or, more precisely, just as long as women aren’t being sexualized. In other words, according to your argument, an “ass kicking” hyper violent heroine is awesome and violent aggression is something to admire in player controlled characters, but the second any sexuality gets involved (an inseparable part of the human experience), that violence only then suddenly becomes morally objectionable.

    At the risk of taking your words too far (in possibly the same way you have taken Rosenberg’s), you seem to be suggesting it is okay if Lara gets to “ass kick”, hurt and kill MEN, but that because she is a “feminist role model”, she herself should never be subjected to similar abuse or victim status simply because she is a woman.

    So you see there is a hint of underlying sexism in your argument, as well. The truth of the matter is, whenever violence is used to solve problems by two sides (people or countries), they quite often alternate back and forth between victim and aggressor to the point where the line between the two becomes impossible to see any more. That is the dangerous cycle of violence. Reflect for a moment: in past games, at what point did player controlled Lara switch from purely self-defense to “finishing off” downed or incapacitated enemies in an aggressive state of bloodlust? That line is impossible to define in the games, just as it is in real life.

    So one cannot glorify “ass kicking” violence while at the same time criticizing sexual violence. The two are one in the same part of a culture that glorifies violence, period. Whether it is inflicted on men, women or animals. On that note, I also don’t see any objections in your posts regarding all the semi-innocent animal victims that have been killed by Lara in past games, or her current violent confrontations with bears, wolves and deer depicted in this trailer (and your opening screenshot). Your article is all about feminism as being the only (worthy) victim perspective.

    All life forms (including the unborn) can be victims of violence, and one type of violence (rape) is not worse or better than another (murder by gun or bow).

    If one is truly seeking to advance a consistent moral argument, All depictions of using violence as the only means to solve problems should be objected to in videogames. Only then can we encourage the gaming industry to develop more compassionate, intelligent and spiritually uplifting games such as Journey.

  • Jared Campbell

     You know of more mainstream video games with rape as a part of the gameplay? At the moment both Tomb III and Mafia II both look like exceptions.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Adanac Joe

    Regarding Sarah Conner, please re-watch Terminator 2 and tell me Cameron did not use implied sexual violence against Sarah in the mental institution (the guard licking her cheek while she was strapped down) as a motivating force empowering her to escape. No different from Tomb Raider, which looks to have even subtler implied sexual abuse. Also, it is ridiculous to suggest the Aliens and Terminator series are not full of countless overused tropes.

  • Anonymous

    We’ve known for a long time it was to be influenced by survival horror it’s kind of the point of the genre that your character scrapes through the ordeal.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Adanac Joe

    It’s not even established yet if it is a QTE. Simply people’s conjecture. More likely it is a non-interactive cutscene.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Adanac Joe

    Why should I bother imagining something that is a complete exaggeration of reality? Rape is NOT present in most female game character’s backstories. Claire, Jill, Joanna Dark, Chun-Li, Cammy, Nina and Anna Williams, I could go on and on. In fact it’s very difficult to think of ANY female videogame characters scarred by rape. So it’s no more common among female gaming protagonists than male.

  • http://twitter.com/Nyoka_ Nyoka

    No different from Tomb Raider? Very different from Tomb Raider. You must be joking. Sarah Connor endures the pig in order to make him believe she’s completely out of touch with reality, so he won’t worry about her, so she can catch him off guard when she escapes. She’s being cold and calculating. And two minutes later she beats the crap out of him.

    You haven’t heard Sarah Connor squeaking and moaning in pain and terror while she was doing that, and having an expression of fear on her face. You don’t want to protect Sarah Connor. You feel her hate, not her helplessness and horror.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5ZXIEGCAFZ4F7LBI6QTTN3YJCY Ashe

     Very well put.

    One side, it’s excused, handwaved, downplayed, or repackaged as ‘acceptable drama’. On the other side, it’s swept under the table into obscurity.

    Such a frustrating and disgusting issue the game industry is clearly not equipped to handle.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Adanac Joe

     I agree with everything you wrote here.

  • Anonymous

    “Incorrectly referred to as an attempted rape scene [...]Sexual assault of any kind is categorically a theme that we do not cover in this game [...] We’re sorry this has not been better explained”

    http://www.tombraider.com/gb/base/brandsite?refer=71

  • Anonymous

    like @Rachel:Disqus said I’m impressed that a mom can get paid $6884 in 4 weeks on the computer. have you read this web link 

    *Just Click At My name for The Link*

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5ZXIEGCAFZ4F7LBI6QTTN3YJCY Ashe

     I’d be cautious about using the ‘Well, what about…” as an argument. It sounds an awful lot like derailing, and doesn’t really diminish the impact of the issue at hand.

    It’d be like going “Well, what about spousal violence?” in a conversation about child abuse. Your points aren’t irrelevant, but neither are the ones stated above. Rape is horrifically convoluted enough without someone switching the topic, well-intentioned you may be.

    I’m with you on more compassionate and uplifting games, though. Jenova Chen’s work really is a beacon for a better future.

  • http://www.thedungeoncrawl.blogspot.com/ Sean Samonas

    I don’t understand all this arguments about how “and that it’s the woman’s responsibility to protect herself from such attacks.”  I mean, if you are stranded alone on an island with no one but thugs and criminals…whose responsibility is it to protect herself from such acts?  I mean, it’s not like she is in the middle of a city and a bunch of dude rape her on a bus or something…these are vile men doing vile acts.  It is completely in the realm of reality for such a thing to occur.  Some may find it offensive, but the realistic thing to do with the character would be that she would be raped and victimized several times and either killed or left for dead. 

    Also, I think a lot of people are making some broad assumptions about what the game is saying.  For example, one person stated that by saying that Lara is “humanized” by defending herself from rape, then all other women who don’t defend themselves are therefore not human enough.  I think you are projecting and making sweeping assumptions there.

    Though really, it’s hard with such a sensitive subject such as rape to really have a two way discussion, as typically one side will simply pull the card that rape can’t be trivialized by being used in entertainment.  Personally, rape is violence to me.  It is just as horrible as murder or any other form of violence that one human being does to another.  I do not condone rape, yet I will not turn a blind eye and act like it is some taboo topic we should never address.

  • Anonymous

    Great. I had hoped this would have been a game I could have bought my daughter to finally get her a fun adventure game with a female lead (a legendary female lead!). No way am I going to have her experience this gmae with sexually threatened and potentially sacfiriced women.

    I’ll give our game money to someone else.

  • Anonymous

    I was molested as a child (I am male) and it was NOT an empowering experience. In fact, it crippled my self perception and confidence for over a decade. The implication of this game for many who have had similar experiences is surely that ‘you were weak, you should have overcome the experience and became stronger as a result.’ The whole approach seems to have misunderstood what being a victim actually means. A PR disaster, I think!

  • http://twitter.com/SynGamer Dustin

    Could this article be any more feminist? Seriously…

    I’m not going to waste my time pointing out the flaws in the Kellie’s article, but I will bring up a few of her points and explain what she is wrong:

    1) Women must be protected because we cannot protect ourselves

    Clearly you’re just trying to stir up anger that a woman “must be protected” in a video game. It’s not that she’s a woman, it’s that she’s in an unfamiliar place, with people trying to hurt her. The developer is trying to create a game where the player cares for the main character, regardless of sex. This just so happens to be a Tomb Raider game where the main character is a woman.

    2) Men cannot ever relate to women (or women characters) in a meaningful way because we are fundamentally different and share no overlapping interests or experiences

    I’m not at all sure how you came to this assumption, other than perhaps your blind hatred for anything that doesn’t portray women as an Amazonian-like warrior. Aside from the clear, genetic differences that dictates who we are, no where do I see the developer telling the audience that Lara is different and that men simply can’t understand the dire situation without showing her at the mercy of one of her (man) hunters. I’m pretty sure regardless of gender, If I (a male) were in the same situation, I’d be hoping like hell I could get out of the situation alive.

    3) Women do not play video games and thus have no need of a relatable woman protagonist to connect with (or, possibly, but just as erroneously, female players of the Tomb Raider games also do not project themselves into the character of Lara Croft)

    Here is where your argument COMPLETELY breaks down. How is the developer insinuating that Lara is not relatable? This Lara Croft is far more realistic, less T&A and more well-rounded overall. If anything, women should see that the character has made it to this remote location. She’s still alive, and now people are trying to harm her, but we know she’ll pull through, she’s Lara-motherf***ing-Croft, so to speak. The Lara Croft of the past was a TERRIBLE model for women to try and relate to. She wasn’t proportioned right what-so-ever, and clearly it was a situation of “sex sells”. Now, while I personally find her to be a far more attractive character than previous attempts, she’s still kicking more ass than I believe I ever will. And that is the very reason I want to play the game. To explore this far off location. To shoot guns, take people down if try to stop or harm me. And ultimately prevail when others expect me not to.

    Now, that all said, I find rape to be completely inhuman. If a man rapes a woman, and it is proven he overpowered her, even while she pleaded and said no, he should be castrated and then locked up. But Kellie solely looks at this game and sees it in black and white: either succeed or be raped. Well, considering the setting, I wouldn’t put it past a man like this to rape her for failing the objective. If this game was entirely about raping Lara Croft, the ESRB would have been all over this. But the fact that you have no problem with the developer stereotyping men as rapists…perhaps that says it all?

  • Anonymous

    There’s a reason there’s outrage at this, and that’s because too many woman character (never limited it to just video games) have sexual assault in their back story. Saying “but Chun-Li!” doesn’t make that not be true.

  • Anonymous

    You say feminist like it’s a bad thing.

  • Anonymous

    Rape isn’t taboo, but treating rape without the severity it deserves should be. Throwing in sexual assault to toughen up a woman character is wrong on so many levels. It’s not exploring the tragedies of rape – in fact, the opposite is being said (that it makes you more awesome!), and it’s not dwelled on for too long, because too often it’s assumed that rape survivors will just get over it like they get over a scrapped knee. No, it sticks with you for the rest of your life. And, what really makes this sexist, is that is rarely ever, ever, ever done for male characters. Even though men are raped too, you probably won’t stumble across that in your entertainment. So ask yourself, why? Why are more women being raped in media, if men are also victims of it in real life?

    If you still can’t understand, then just stop speaking out against those who do. Respect those that have been horribly mistreated in their lives by NOT actively supporting awful representations of the trauma they went through. The more we support or allow these plot lines, the more trivial we make rape out to be. Which you prove, by stating how very underwhelming the act is to you already.

  • http://twitter.com/Nyoka_ Nyoka

     1 – Wrong, it is that she is a woman. You should read the Ron Rosenberg quote that you can find in the article you’re commenting on: “You start to root for Lara in a way you might not for a male character”. That she is a woman is exactly why the creators of the game think you will feel like you have to protect her.

    2 – You’re really beyond clueless. Read again the Rosenberg quote: “When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character … They’re more like ‘I want to protect her’.” Rosenberg obviously can’t identify with Lara the way he can identify with, say, every male hero in history. He feels he has to help her, instead of to play as her.

    3 – The whole Rosenberg quote is directed at men. He’s talking about guys and guys exclusively. He thinks guys want to protect Lara, and guys don’t really project themselves, and guys will root for her in a way they won’t root for videogame men. It would be absurd to claim that women will want to protect Lara and help her instead of just playing as her, like the videogame character she is. Rosenberg hasn’t even thought about the fact that women are part of the audience.

    Get a clue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003349751909 Fabian Kauz

    I read the article, many of the comments, and thougt, that the most comments sound very over the top “feminist” (sorry, no native speaker i mean feminist in the “all men are baaaad” way) I then watched the trailer, to get, what everyone was bragging about. I have to say, i (male) had definately this “omg, i am f****d” feeling in the first seconds of the trailer,as i tried to imagine myself playing the game and i had no problems beeing afraid of the height, the man and the dog. The most points of critic here are that rape is used as a threat, i would say: can you imagine a scenario, where you are to build a hero cast away on a remote island with wild dogs and dangerous caves, and then you have immoral asshole villains who will NOT be sexually harassing their victim (regardless of the gender)? And i didn’t get the feeling that the game mechanics would be “oops, failure – rape” but “dangerous cave – get out” “dangerous dog – kill” etc. You don’t even know if the story gets to a point of beeing in danger of rape. These situations in games are almost allways; you get caught-cutscene-building of tension-endcutscene-KILL’EMALL. and if you fail that, the villain kills you. not rape you. even if the threat was there before, after Lara punched him, maybe wounded him, and ran away, there would be (story-wise speaking) enough to switch the motivation “oh, a victim, i’m gonna rape it” to “f**k, enemy, I’m gotta kill it”. So the realistic scene would be realistic, and not getting to a point where it would be dificult to argue, why a girl with such traumatic experiences would become a heroine (as it was pointed out, may be unrealistic)

    For me the trailer looked pretty good, and i could relate to lara. and i couldn’t relate to her in the first installments, back then it WAS more of a “helping her” feeling, just like super mario. I can imagine the game beeing good in inducing the feeling of “I’m in Danger” not “he/she is in danger” i hope my thoughts are understandable :)

  • http://www.thedungeoncrawl.blogspot.com/ Sean Samonas

     I think you misunderstand me.  When I say that rape is the same level as violence, I’m doing the opposite of what you are assuming.  I’m not trying to belittle rape.  Nor am I “underwhelmed” by the act.  You know nothing about me or what I’ve gone through in my life.  Maybe I know more about survival and just “getting over” it then you think.  I’m not arguing that rape should be glorified, I am simply stating that there are two sides to all issues and that when things like rape come up people are much too hasty to make judgements based on too little evidence.

    And I think that a lot of people tend to have a knee-jerk reaction when rape is used in storytelling.  I think as far as this whole Tomb Raider deal, everyone is making a hasty judgement based on very little evidence.  No one has played the full game, so no one can really know how this will all play out.  You have no idea whether or not this will be handled respectfully or botched.  When the final game comes out and it turns out to be done in poor taste, I’ll be the first to condemn it.

    However, until all the evidence is in, I hardly see the point in immediately jumping to conclusions based on what is currently available. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kalynn-Osburn/100000209378615 Kalynn Osburn

    Hemhem…

    I DARE them to ask Angelina Jolie to play this out. 

  • Anonymous

     Saying that a character is sexualized, and let’s face it she was a sexualized character, does not make it demonic and it does not invalidate the entire game. You’re making some pretty big jumps there. Acknowledging that yeah, the characters were originally female because
    they wanted to make them sexy isn’t an insult. It’s just a fact. My problem is with sexism and bad writers taking strong female characters and turning them into victims, not with the original games being evil. Why does ‘overcoming adversity’ always involve abuse, rape or motherhood when the character is a woman? Why does she suddenly need to be rescued? It’s like when she was primarily a sex symbol it was fine for her to be powerful too, but when they tried to make her human they had to make her weak.
    Also, come on…would you wear a bikini underneath metal armor?

  • Anonymous

     Also, in Super Metroid your armor explodes off of you every time you die.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=607464418 Rusty Patti

    You beat me to it. 

  • Anonymous

    Let me be more clear: this type of reaction is EXACTLY THE SORT OF REACTION THAT CRAPPY DEPICTIONS OF RAPE IN STORYTELLING SHOULD GET. Why? Because rape culture.

    Google it if you don’t know what it is.

  • http://twitter.com/IvidiaKt Ividia Kt

     Thanks, Nyoka.  I was about to reply when I saw yours.  You nailed it head on.

  • http://twitter.com/IvidiaKt Ividia Kt

    Too add to what Nyoka said …

    Her motivating force was not the behavior of the
    guard but rather the police photos of the Terminator.  He was back and
    once again after her son.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    There may not be rape in Arkham City but you don’t think it’s just as disturbing to fail a mission and hear about how they are going to kill you slowly and painfully? There is just as much implication of rape in that as there was in trailer. 

  • http://twitter.com/10000_buckets Ten Thousand Buckets

    I watched the gameplay trailer last week, via the Penny Arcade link. One of the words in their headline was “rape.” I scanned that, and watched the trailer, but I didn’t see any rape. Nobody mentioned rape. There was a man acting in a very threatening fashion toward a bound Lara, and he does begin to lower a hand to her waist, but… I don’t think that that, by itself, counts as a rape attempt.

    I have read Rosenberg’s comments. I am fully aware of the sexual assault victim = badass woman trope, and I’m very tired of it. The game probably does contain the threat of rape because it’s so overused by this point, but I don’t think that the trailer itself is pointing directly to it. If I had watched the trailer cold, and then somebody asked me what I thought of the rape attempt scene, I wouldn’t have any idea what they meant. The good news is that this means it would be very easy to cut 2 seconds of animation, and turn Lara’s struggle back into a straight up fight.

    That said, I am remarkably tired of men being allowed to be badass with no backstory, and women requiring a traumatic backstory to become badass. The Lara I know was forced into a survival situation, and came to enjoy the thrills of adventure. That was her whole backstory. They later retconned some stuff about her mother. That story was good enough – let us play Lara down the mountain. Change it to an island, fine. But there’s a major tone shift when we stop exploring tombs (and fighting off the occasional human) and begin strictly fighting “bad guys” (while exploring a few tombs). Don’t they remember why nobody liked Angel of Darkness?

  • http://twitter.com/10000_buckets Ten Thousand Buckets

     Oh, thank you for the link.

    It’s interesting that they’ve addressed it. While I personally don’t think that the trailer is giving off a particularly rapey vibe, it – combined with general discussion on the internet – did make me consider that they might play up the rape as traumatic backstory aspect in another part of the game.

    Crystal Dynamics would do well to remove the footage of the man’s hand moving toward her waist, as that is probably what has sparked the outrage. Maybe just have him tighten his grip on her arm, instead. Everything else in that scene happens so quickly it’s hard to tell what’s going on.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t expect to see so much against this game on here. I’ve seen the trailer many times already, and I’m jazzed for it, my sisters jazzed for it, it just looks great. I’m glad that Crystal Dynamics has chosen to present a more vulnerable side to Lara in this installment. I mean we’re seeing her at the beginning, facing major threats, where just trying to survive is paramount.

    I don’t really see Rosenberg’s vision of it though, but then again, art is subjective. I don’t feel the urge to protect her, but rather just want to make sure she survives and overcomes anything thrown her way. I felt the same way in Heavy Rain and that was a male protagonist

  • http://www.facebook.com/hekateras Katerina Monstermütze

     I guess they’ve learned from the utter failure that was teenage and adult males being completely unable to connect to awesome female Avatar characters like Toph, Suki, Azula and Korra.

    Oh wait.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hekateras Katerina Monstermütze

     Part of the gameplay, no, but that’s probably more an issue with avoiding overly high ratings than anything else. Many, many games, depending on their rating, have rape as implied or stated backstory of a female character. Take Dragon Age I and the city elf origin, for example.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hekateras Katerina Monstermütze

     IMO, not really, because the depiction of males being killed slowly and painfully in the media has conditioned the viewers to imagine very clean, dignified torture. It is practically unheard of for a strong female character’s dignity to be threatened and undermined. I mean, can you imagine Conan the bBarbairan being treated the way Lara is, or otherwise tortured in a sexual manner?

  • http://www.facebook.com/hekateras Katerina Monstermütze

     I’m sorry you had to go through that. Thanks for the input, that is it precisely.

    Am I the only one who looks at the trailer and thinks, man, she’s gonna be a traumatised, paranoid wreck after that? While it does presumably make her strong in the sense of having mad skills, that is not the same thing as being well-adjusted or emotionally stable.

  • http://www.thedungeoncrawl.blogspot.com/ Sean Samonas

     But how do we know it is crappy?  The final product hasn’t been released yet.  I also don’t see how the scene as currently released “normalize, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence.”

    Also I don’t see the following occur in the trailer either: “Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape.”

    I maintain that I think a lot people are simply jumping to conclusions that since rape stories have been mishandled in the past they will continue to be done in that way.  We have seen a trailer.  We have not been given any context for the story, nor have we been given any context for the situation.

    And for those saying they were going to buy this for their kid, the game is rated Mature, you shouldn’t be buying it for your kid regardless.

  • Brett Phillipson

    Thank you. I am also a survivor of sexual violence, and I think all this “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” stuff is bullshit. What I went through didn’t make me stronger, it gave me panic attacks and made me incapable of functioning. Turning it into a “you go girl!” moment is an insult to survivors, and moreover, it’s an insult to Lara Croft, who has been a badass for a long time without a clichéd history of victimization tacked on. 

    I can’t tell which I hate more: the idea that surviving sexual violence is empowering, or the idea that female characters NEED to have survived sexual violence to be powerful. I’d rather see Lara with ridiculously huge pointy boobs (<3 90s graphics) than this. 

    P.S. Amuro, I'm sorry for what you went through, and I hope you're OK now. You are not weak, regardless of how you have processed your trauma. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KRJYWQUKW24OE5XCCGI2G2QMZA Inja

    …”The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear,” … it’s telling that he doesn’t see women as (fully) human when in a sexual context. I hope he’s not one of those people who roll their eyes when objectification is mentioned.

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    I don’t see what point you’re making in reference to my comment. Last I checked no one tried to rape Leon Kennedy in-game… not that Resi has been survival horror for a long time, so I haven’t played much since Code Veronica and may have missed Wesker trying to bend Chris over a storage chest.

    Huh, I know I completed 5 the once but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it was about… *getting side tracked*

  • Anonymous

     Sorry, I can’t remember who I was meant to be replying to but it wasn’t your comment. Perhaps it was deleted or I mis-clicked IDK.

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    Or Disqus is being weird after all the updates.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jan-Tewi/100003403070889 Jan Tewi

    Rape and humiliation fantasies can be empowering.

  • http://www.facebook.com/clare.markley Clare Matvey Markley

    I can see if they wanted to make her “accessible” by having a traumatic back-story and having had her go through some sort of prisoner experience where there were other prisoners also, both males and females, and at the end your character is able to make it through the trauma, rescue the others and triumph… but this is just disgusting.  Traumatic back-stories are part and parcel of the superhero/hero genre but misogyny and rape should NOT be. Not only is this an insult to female gamers, but this is just one more “input” into minds of young men and boys as to “acceptable” ways to portray women in media…

    My daughters all play video-games and so do I.  I remember about 10 years ago talking to my Commanding Officer about World of Warcraft.  We were surprised to find someone else at work that played it (although after that I found many other military people I knew did) and his first comment when he heard that I and my daughters played was, “Oh, so you all must play on an RP server, right?”  So, I asked him why.  He said, “Well, you know… on the PVP servers there is so much fighting and all…”  I had to laugh.  At that time my oldest daughter was one of the top ten ranked PVPers on our server.  Yeah, so many assumptions.  It’s really too bad that Felicia Day doesn’t get into *creating* games for women, not just playing them.

  • Moggy Farron

    Just wanted to say, that I’m a guy and my most favourite characters are pretty much all female ones. Not because they’re hot, but because in-general I just find female characters to be more interesting and have better development when done right. I’d take Lightning or Shion over Nathan Drake ANY day of the week. 

  • Laura whisman

    Adventure, excitement, fun…and a ridiculous misproportioned bust size you mean?

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.friend.3 Christopher Friend

    I am afraid but I diagree with the author. This is a origin story about a young college graduate that is shipped wrecked on an island with pirates. As we see her overcome starvation, violence, and pain we see her grow into the legendary tomb raider. Lara croft has always been known to go where other wouldn’t and survive what others can’t. Unless people are forgetting this the team making this wanted to be more realistic. People stranded on island filled with pirates that would assault women is realistic.

    If you saw the trailer you would know she doesn’t get raped but kills him. Than she cries because that is the first person she killed. That sounds more realistic than a billionaire woman who suddenly becomes out of no where the tomb raider we exspect from her.

  • http://twitter.com/howitzer89 bahga

    Gaming is the only form of media where every single portrayal of every single female or non-white male MUST be completely devoid of stereotype, trope, and possible offensive trait. Why is this? Why must gaming be put under the magnifying glass as opposed to film, music, or literature?

  • Anonymous

    You haven’t been here very long, have you?

  • http://twitter.com/howitzer89 bahga

     That doesn’t really answer my question.

  • Kitty Page

    Wow. This is a near textbook example of what people complain about -all the time-. You’d think developers would stop doing this crap! It’d be really great if we could stop getting female characters whose stories involved sexual abuse, especially when it’s depicted as the reason a character is who she is. And it’d be awesome if game creators could wrap their heads around the fact that sexist portrayals of women go -way- beyond just a character’s appearance. 

  • Spencer Bennett

    “The responsibility is wholly upon her to protect herself, it is not upon the scumbag rapists who are trying to hurt her.” Uh, yeah. If Nathan Drake is getting shot at or about to be raped he’s on his own to protect himself. Why would the rapists protect her from the rape they hope to inflict?

    I’m not saying you’re wrong or taking this way too seriously. All I’m saying is… fuuuuucccckkkk yoouu.
     

  • Spencer Bennett

    DELETED

  • Spencer Bennett

     Well, to be fair he did sort of getcha and you just got yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Adanac Joe

     I only brought up the animal violence to once again make the point that perhaps violence is the problem in Tomb Raider and most other big budget modern games, period. Not just violence against women. Otherwise one is drawing artificial boundaries around a problem using their own inherent biases (in this case, possibly a feminist outlook on the problem). Let’s not ignore the forest when examining a particular tree etc. The problem, once again, is glorification of violence.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YTWCFYIQZ2P6CN3NMDUQXZ33T4 Diptarko

    Agreed. I’m a male and I can very well relate to a female character as long as the story is well written. I think I even subconsciously become the character at times, irrespective of the character’s gender. I don’t see why gamers would have to ‘protect’ Lara to relate to her. That’s dumb.

    But I think certain things in this article are exaggerated. For example, it’s not misogyny to show a rape scene. It’s unoriginal, yes, but it’s not misogyny, especially when the woman successfully fights against it. Then, nowhere does the game suggest that if Lara cannot defend herself against rape, then she is to be blamed. No. It’s like murder. If you can’t defend yourself against it, you get killed. But no one actually blames the victim for not being able to defend himself/herself.
    I don’t blame rape victims. I just think that a gamer defending a female character from rape is the same as defending her from getting killed. Nothing misogynistic about it.

  • Valaska Averia

    No, but it was implied that is what drove her to “become” stronger. Everyone saying this is a trope in video games is pretty far off, rape either way is pretty god damn rare.

    This isn’t misogyny, no more than it is to be murdered and then blaming the female/male character in not being able to defend themselves. The -only- problem here is working from a very strange interview, you can interpret the attempted rape (and her killing the guy) as “Women have the power to fight back” or you can interpret it as “Oh its her fault I can’t figure out the quick time, its all a rape victims fault.”

    Hell the fact you go that route is really concerning…

  • http://twitter.com/madmanmarz Marz

    Game is great but the new Lara is nothing more than a rape victim now. crystal dynamics just showed how low they will go just to sell a game i like to play violent stuff, but damn watching Lara get brutalized through the entire game is just wasn’t fun to watch this is a snuff film now. Don’t get me wrong, it looks damn good, but they’re so brutal to Lara it’s like the developers at crystal dynamics had some sick fascination with hurting her. This is beyond violence this is sick and Disgusting. I hope there happy on that mouton of money they made off of this so called origin story BS.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    If that’s what you really think, why do you say it’s great and why is your twitter banner and background images of the new game?

    You should check out our review: http://www.themarysue.com/tomb-raider-review/

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see how you missed that the Tomb Raider reboot is about Laura going from a vulnerable, idealistic girl to a supremely self-confident, tough-as-nails adventurer? She comes from a background where no one has ever lied or tried to take advantage of her, and gets dumped into the wilderness where everything wants here dead or to take advantage of her. Through a set of harrowing experiences, she grows up to realize not everyone is nice, and learns to take care of herself in ways many adults never learn to. Rape happens. It scars you and you can either learn from it or let it dominate you for the rest of your life. I know plenty of rape victims and it’s educational to see how they react to it differently.