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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Cautiously Optimistic

Tomb Raider: A Chance to Make a Difference


I’ve had an up-and-down relationship with Lara over the years. I played the first game, in fact [my] dad did and spoilt the bit with the T-Rex but it was still awesome. Then I felt she’d become reduced to a pair of boobs, a pair of pistols and a hair plait.

She became bigger than the games and was over-sexualised. I’m fairly used to that in games but it gave the impression that ‘ladies, this isn’t for you’ and yet she was very popular with female gamers.

The chance to get my hands on her, so to speak, gave me the chance to make a difference.Rhianna Pratchett, head writer on Tomb Raider.

The Tomb Raider franchise’s imminent reboot hasn’t had the smoothest of PR roads, what with letting its executive producer say some really unfortunate things about rape, victimhood, and how men connect with female characters, days before they were ready to announce and confirm that Tomb Raider (2013) was that rarity in the video games industry: a game about a woman, written by a woman. Pratchett herself has talked publicly about how problematic those statements were and how they’re not representative of her approach to Tomb Raider‘s story. Gamers can finally get their hands on the long awaited reboot tomorrow, and we should have a review for you at the end of this week.

(via Digital Spy.)

Previously in Tomb Raider

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  • Canisa

    I would be really, really excited about this game except for the whole ‘press X to not be raped’ thing. That kind of shit’ll put me off a game real quick.

  • http://twitter.com/Ostercy Ostercy

    Feminism is all about killing as many men as possible. Or have I missed the point of the new Tomb Raider?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Tamara.Morriss Tamara Legen-Dairy Morriss
  • Canisa

    Okay, so she wants to make Lara a more rounded, three dimensional and human character? That’s good, I like that idea. But using sexual assault to do that? That’s bad, I do not like that idea.

    I’m not buying the game for that reason, and that reason alone. It’s a shame it’s in there because otherwise this game would’ve been a day-one purchase for me.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for posting that. It seems that you will need to press buttons to wrestle the gun away from the attacker. If he wins, he kills you, if you win, you kill him. Still, is it necessary to make the victims of rape who might play your game uncomfortable, just for an emotional reaction? Rhianna Pratchett thinks so:

    “If I felt that a female character needed sexual assault or rape as part of their backstory, it would be in there fully.”

    I have little to add to what I have said previously regarding this game. This phrase not only fails to empathize with gamers like me (including all genders), but there’s this idea that “rape is inevitable”, that it “needs” to happen in order to create a strong character. I cannot express my contempt for such cruel ideas strongly enough. While I am the person who I am today, due to my past, and all the lovely mental illnesses that come with it, to suggest that someone else “made me” with their attacks against my mind and body, their disarming phrases meant to take away my will, their complete disregard for my consent, their need to hurt another human being and file it away in their memory and confessions under the file “Lust” to take away the responsibility of their actions…to suggest this, is to give credit to the abuser, to tell them that they “did a good job in making the victim,” And you erase me, MY effort, to pull MYSELF from the brink. I am who I am today because of ME, and no one else. So take that little ray of sunshine that “there is some good that came out of your abuse!” and shove it.

  • Jamie Jeans

    Yeah, as soon as I saw that video, I was basically turned off from ever playing that game. It might be 10, or 5 seconds worth of gameplay vs hours and hours of non-rape filled gameplay, but it sti;;s an ugly thing to include just for some cheap shot at drama…

    Not to mention that the guy promoting it at the time said the intention was to make us want to take care of Lara, like she was some perpeptual victim instead of a character who grows as she overcomes obstacles.

  • Jamie Jeans

    The point of the new Tomb Raider is, from all that I’ve seen of the trailers, survive, discover the mystery of the island, and then get away from it.

    You, who are apparently a graduate of the Rush Limbaugh School of Ignorance and Penis Worshipping, don’t understand what feminism is about.

    At all.

  • Jamie Jeans

    Apparently, she graduated from the Marvel and DC Comics school of thinking to making strong female characters. >_>

  • Jamie Jeans

    At a convention one time, Seanan McGuire, writer of Discount Armegeddon, was asked WHEN her lead character, a woman, would be raped, and she tore into him because of his nasty assumption that that had to be something to happen to her just because she was a woman.

    And it’s that kind of thinking that needs to be squashed, hard.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Having not played the game, I’ll withhold judgement. It looks good, though, and I’m looking forward to the bow and arrow.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    She didn’t make either of the statements you’re attributing your response to. “Rape is inevitable” and necessary “in order to create a strong character” She said, “If I felt that a female character needed sexual assault or rape as part of their backstory, it would be in there.” At least, according to your quotation. Those are not all the same thing. They are not interchangeable statements.

  • WheelchairNinja

    Wait, Rhianna Pratchett is the head writer for the new Tomb Raider? Mirror’s Edge is one of my top games of all time, and she’s the daughter of one of my favorite authors. This is gonna be awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Miss.Miz Mira Tex Schaefer

    The game has been released for over five days in Australia (someone broke release) and I’ve played majority of the campaign and there is NOTHING even remotely close to a rape scene. The story is amazing and we finally have a great female protagonist. Play the game before judging it and see for yourself

  • http://twitter.com/Ostercy Ostercy

    Interesting. I was being sarcastic about the alleged “feminism” in the new (very violent) Tomb Raider and you decided that I was like Rush Limbaugh.

  • Anonymous

    Then why did she use the word “needed?” I am interested in understanding how you interpret that phrase differently, instead of stating that I’m not correct. Her statements regarding rape that I have seen in the link up above, are still quite problematic. Again, I will say that I wish she and others who made this game, actually talked to survivors of sexual assault, to empathize better with US, if they’re going to put that type of cheap emotional reaction into their story. Empathizing with Normal People who have very problematic reactions to survivors/victims (whatever you wish to call yourself) of sexual assault, like 1) Making it All About You: “I just wish I could’ve protected you!”, 2) Questioning Your Victimhood: “Are you sure you didn’t want it?” 3) Siding with The Rapist: “But zie’s such a great person! I can’t believe they could do that,” is, well, problematic. It adds to the rape culture, because we continue stereotypes that silence victims, and allow a safe space for rapists to continue to do what they do.

  • Anonymous

    The male character gropes her, yes? No only is this shown in the trailer, but it has been stated by the people who made the game, again and again. If you want to be politically correct (which I still don’t agree with this, but it’s a legal term) then he sexually assaults her. YES, that is triggering, and YES that is a perfectly valid reason for someone not wanting to play the game. Their boundaries are theirs’ to set, not for you to judge and to redraw.

  • Anonymous

    You’re absolutely right; there’s no way anyone could interpret what you wrote as sarcasm and not what you actually think…Your powers of Calling Out Someone Else’s Reaction to What You Wrote as “Wrong” are pointless, and kind of trollish. Aw, who am I kidding, it is trolling :)

  • Anonymous

    I’m finding the comments of “I will/ you need to wait and see before judging” regarding this game (and whooops “forgetting” that there’s sexual assault in it!) as a passive-aggressive silencing technique. Congrats, you are a privileged person to not have to deal with the same triggers people who have experienced sexual assault do! If YOU wish to wait and play the game, THEN make up YOUR mind, fine. But state it as such; don’t put it out there like it’s The Morally Right Thing to Do (“Come on everyone, give the rape culture a chance!” barf). We all have our limits, boundaries and triggers; they are different, depending on the person.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    First of all, “whatever you wish to call yourself”. Nice. I question the phalanx, so I must be be an asshole. Whatever.

    Second, I’m not interpreting the phrase. The sentences are different. They mean different things. It isn’t complicated. The quotation that I referred to, that got the ball rolling, “”If I felt that a female character needed sexual assault or rape as part of their backstory, it would be in there.” says nothing about the inevitability of all characters or all female characters and says nothing about sexual assault or rape creating a stronger character. The intention of the rapist or of including the act in the backstory are not included in the quotation. She is speaking as an author deciding whether to include sexual assault or rape as part of the backstory in a fictional character’s life. That isn’t an interpretation. She isn’t saying anything about all characters, all women, or anything about the act itself. I’m reading rather than warping. I don’t have an agenda…I do have a pet peeve, however, in seeing statements misconstrued based on interpreted context. These aren’t hieroglyphics They’re words we’re all used to reading.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    I’ve seen the full scene at Gamescom. It’s actually not as bad as what I thought it was initially. I don’t know how to explain it, just a see for yourself kinda thing.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    I kind of agree with Adam. I interpreted Pratchett’s statement regarding story development rather than character development.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karim.hayawan Karim El Hayawan

    I got send the game early and am playing it. I can tell you that Lara isn’t a perpetual victim. She is a fully realized character with her own agency. Those scenes happen very early and are there to set the stakes and convey to the player that the islanders are inhuman. The game does exactly what you think it doesn’t. Over the game Lara has to overcome obstacles and adversary and grow as a result. That comment from the producer was a miss-formulation. The game doesn’t want you to protect Lara but it’s set up so you want her to overcome all the challenges. It puts the player very firmly in her shoes and NOT as some 3rd person protector.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karim.hayawan Karim El Hayawan

    (“Come on everyone, give the rape culture a chance!” barf)

    No one said that. It’s disingenuous of you to formulate that sentence and imply that someone said it or meant it. People who are saying “I will/ you need to wait and see before judging” only want to judge the controversial scene having seen it in its proper, complete context. You can never understand anything without viewing it in context. You jumping to conclusions isn’t the most ethical thing either.

    Yes people have their triggers and experiences that influence their endurance threshold but we are trying to have a discourse and putting our different views on the table. Why risk missing out on what could be a great game that might have a very well written possibly empowering female character because a producer had a communications meltdown. The review will clear it up once and for all.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad you’re asking what I meant rather then jumping to conclusions….the phrase was aimed at people who have been assaulted, not you. Some people might feel empowered or dehumanized by calling them a “victim” or “survivor” (or being defined by their rape at all).

    Nor did I state anything about all the female characters, ever, so I don’t know where that came from. As for the phrase “If I felt that a female character NEEDED (empathis mine) sexaul assault or rape as part of their backstory, it would be in there,” This suggests the idea (there’s a better way to phrase my statements) that rape is needed. For a stronger character, for someone to emathize with, I don’t know what she means by that. The rest I assume, which is what you’re doing as well. I assume that it means she feels a rape back story would make a strong character. And that is disgusting.

    As for your pet peeve, okay. I disagree with you.

  • Anonymous

    And it’s also kind of a “What doesn’t trigger you will trigger others” type of thing, which is my point. Here’s an example: Not everyone is afraid of spiders, to the point where seeing them triggers an intense anxiety reaction. Some people that have this phobia cannot play video games, such as Skyrim, etc where they have huge spiders come and attack you. While I find spiders scary, I would not limit myself by not playing a game with them in it. However, I can empathize with people who have that fear, thinking “Man, it must be scary to be playing a fun game, and then be triggered like that,”

  • Anonymous

    I agree no one said that; I did. See? Right up there, quote me. You’re right; seeing a person grope another person, while the person being groped has the body language of “I did not consent to this!”, obviously we need to see it in the “whole context”. You do not wish to view it as sexual assault, okay. Whether it is or isn’t (I stand firmly beside the idea that it is, because no consent=assault) can be debated forever, but the point still stands that some people are triggered just by watching that clip.
    And again, this idea of “just wait and see!” is gross. You are telling people who do not wish to be triggered by a game, to forget their triggers in favor of “giving a game a chance”. You are telling people that their feelings are invalid, because “this game could be good!” THAT, right there, is what I have beef with.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I don’t see how you can say that I’m making any assumptions…I’m trying very hard not to. I’m just taking the literal meaning since we don’t know what she was thinking.

  • Anonymous

    But these statemennts do not exist in a void; that is what I’m trying to state. Whether it was aimed at story or character development, that’s fine. But feeling that she might “need” a character with a rape backstory (and will display it all for the sake of a cheap emotional reaction!) is problematic. I personally find it repulsive and have my own strong, emotional reaction to it, as I’m sure you can tell by my posts.

  • Charlotte

    I think the quotation about putting rape in a character’s backstory is her way of saying that there isn’t any rape or near-rape in the game because if there was, it would have gone beyond what we see in the trailer. I do think the idea of a backstory ‘needing’ rape is an iffy one though- unless you’re doing a story specifically about the subject then there’s no ‘need’ at all.

  • Anonymous

    What she was thinking…is not the problem. The intention does not matter. What was said, and the effects of those words, are the problem. The problem is the problem; not her, or her personality, or the story they were really trying to tell with this game!!11, whatever. The words, their effect. That’s what I’m talking about.

  • Anonymous

    ^ Spot-on. Thank you.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    You do realize that’s incredibly impractical? Yes, everyone perceives the world through their own prism, but asking that every individual perspective be conscientiously considered before creating art in any form is like asking them to tailor it for literally everyone in their market.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I suppose if you want to use the word projection instead of saying that I’m disagreeing and arguing my position, then it might seem like that.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I think she could have chosen a better word than “need”, however, in terms of world building, character creation, and writing, what else should we take off the table? Murder is a thing that people deal with in real life, so should authors not be allowed to include murder? What about naughty language?

  • http://twitter.com/Ostercy Ostercy

    How very odd :) This place does ad hominem almost literally. And even trying to stand up for oneself is “trolling”.

  • Travis Fischer

    Are you serious? Further up on this very page your position is “it doesn’t matter what she said, it’s what she meant” (or rather, “what I think she meant”) and NOW you’re taking things literally?

    You feel the need to “interpret” what Pratchett says but THIS you decide should be taken at face value. Unbelievable.

  • Anonymous

    And that’s fine. The scene, which is there in the trailer, and is said to be there, by the makers of the game, is triggering. The fact that some people might not want to play this game, due to that fact, is what some people in these comments are misunderstanding.

  • Anonymous

    Same to you :) Which is why I used the word correctly.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, it would be hard. But it can be done. We are taught how NOT to empathize, to be an individual and “bootstraps!” We are taught, in a sense, how Not to be Inclusive. To Other people who are Not Like Us (fat people, people of color, people with uteri and/or identify as women, people with physical and/or mental disabilities, etc). So why would someone, who is the Other, strive again and fail again, to be included in a world that wants nothing to do with them? That is hardly fair. But asking to be included is DEFINITELY fuckin’ fair. “I exist, acknowledge me and treat me like an equal” is a goddamn right.

  • Anonymous

    No. Do not pretend that “murder” and “naughty language” are anything like rape. But I am glad you saw that the word “need” is a problem.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I think that in the context they are the same. I think that once you start drawing lines, you’re asking for censorship in art and that is wrong.

    However, yeah, “need” makes it sound like she tried the soup and it needed more salt.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    If you’re still looking for an agenda, it begins and ends with, “I think I’m right and I’m enjoying the discussion slash argument.”

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    You’re arguing for inclusion while describing what you’d like removed. That sounds like every Democrat/Republican argument I’ve ever heard. It’s endless. I’m not saying, “Why try, cuz things are hard,” by the way. But if everyone has a trigger and everyone wants their trigger removed, what’s left is a few hunks of metal and no bang sounds. No conflict. Drama necessitates conflict.

    I agree that rape shouldn’t be used like a spice but I do believe that context matters…and, I see elsewhere, you don’t think context matters. So, we might be at an impasse.

  • Anonymous

    Okay.

  • Anonymous

    And that’s where we differ. I don’t feel the need to continue this discussion, because the only way is further conflict. Unless of course, there’s a willingness to empathize.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right; I’m exactly like the GOP, who wish to take away the rights of people who have uteri, who are not born in America, who are note White, etc. Difference between these groups, dude, is one has an agenda of “let’s build Us up while we stop progress” and the other one’s…well, kind of misguided. And trying to be neutral on things they shouldn’t be. For real, telling a person to be conscious of their actions, to be more inclusive, does NOT limit their abilities. I am in such groups, via volunteering and friends, and I have never felt more safe, nor free to express myself. So really, I feel you have it backwards.

    There is a huge difference, and I encourage you to see it. Context DOES matter, but the effect of things you put out in the world are still your responsibility (again, metaphorical “you”. I state this, because looking back at my comments, I saw how you could take something I said personally, a few comments back. Because I empathized with you and took responsibility for my words.)

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I said the same thing to you elsewhere…and, no, you haven’t seemed very capable of getting out from behind your own point of view anywhere in our discussion or the one you’re having with others in this thread. I can understand why but it doesn’t change anything.

  • Anonymous

    You can understand, then dismiss why you think I stand by my point of view. No, I’m not going to “get out from my point of view” because I was raised in a pro-rape, pro-abusive, racist, homophobic, sexist society (as we all were). I refuse to be those things. And I am interested to know where you stated this before, that we are at an impass, and then I continued the discussion anyway.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I wasn’t comparing you to the GOP, I was comparing the argument to the sort of argument you normally hear between two political parties. An endless circle of takers explaining how they’re giving.

  • Anonymous

    I know it was both, I’m aware. But I think it’s gross to assume I’m anything like the Republican party, which is one of the parties you were comparing me to. And I was expressing my contempt for them, which is endless.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    No, that’s incorrect.I understand your P.O.V. but it doesn’t change mine. If that’s a dismissal, then you’re just as guilty.

    The implication of what you’re saying is pretty insulting and very disingenuous to describe your perceived opposition in terms that you are not…for example, “pro-rape, pro-abusive, racist, homophobic, sexist”…so, if you refuse to be those things, your perceived opposition is described in those exact terms. The world is, unfortunately, not so black and white.

    As for the impasse, it’s Ctrl+Fable,but alright: “So, we might be at an impasse.”

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Alrighty, hoo-ra, down with the GOP.

  • Anonymous

    “No, that’s incorrect.I understand your P.O.V. but it doesn’t change mine. If that’s a dismissal, then you’re just as guilty.”
    Guilty as charged.

    “The implication of what you’re saying is pretty insulting and very disingenuous to describe your perceived opposition in terms that you are not…for example, “pro-rape, pro-abusive, racist, homophobic, sexist”…so, if you refuse to be those things, your perceived opposition is described in those exact terms. The world is, unfortunately, not so black and white.”
    According to you, which is a privileged position, that is not socially conscious of the these things. Society is this, and so are people who do not consciously include the Others. I am these things at times (racist because I have the privilege of being White, ablist because I have the privilege of a abled body, etc), and it’s something I am constantly trying to work on. So no, you’re right, the world is not that black and white. It’s hard, tough work to be progressive, and you still fall. But trying, and at times succeeding, that’s where the difference lies.

    “As for the impasse, it’s Ctrl+Fable,but alright: “So, we might be at an impasse.”"
    I understand that you had this statement, I was looking for where I disregarded it and escalated the situation. I don’t see that.

  • Laszlo

    She did use the word “needed”, but you can’t just ignore the rest of the sentence, especially the “if I felt” right before it. To me it seemed she was saying she didn’t feel it was needed, the point of the scene was Lara’s reaction in that situation, that’s why they don’t actually show rape. Of course, that is another questionable way of thinking.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Disagreement isn’t disregard and one can sympathize without agreeing. Back to the topic, you can lobby all day long to change the law, but until you succeed, then artists and other creators are going to be able to continue to do terrible things to their creations. Sometimes this will scandalize them or turn off their audience and, yes, sometimes they’ll do it as a form of sensationalism…but sometimes it happens organically as part of the story being told. I don’t believe that should change. There’s a book series — one volume is called “Zombie Butts From Uranus!” if we could pick and choose what’s for sale, I’d pull it off the market in a heartbeat, having never read a page, based solely on the title and my perceived notion of what reading trash like it does to children, but what else would get pulled? One form of censorship is like any other. Everyone has their reasons and everyone believes that theirs is the most valid.

    You said below that what the author/writer was thinking isn’t the problem and that what she intended didn’t matter. Of course it does. How can your point of view matter more? The work doesn’t exist in a vacuum, nor was it created outside of the human race.

  • Canisa

    Well, damn, what very little sympathy I had for you evaporated the moment you compared rape to bad language. What the everloving fuck?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I didn’t compare rape to bad language. I explained my belief that censorship of one thing will become censorship of all things. I’m not talking about actual rape or rape as a character trait. Thae86 is saying that since the subject is her trigger, that they included it at all is so morally reprehensible that they shouldn’t be allowed, and I’m in agreement with the author’s right to include it. They aren’t anything alike in their real life forms, of course, but as symbols, as components that can be censored, they are. You start a blacklist why should you ever stop?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Something else we disagree on, then.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Ok. There is NO rape. None at all. Not even implied rape. The bit where it looks like he’s smelling here hair: he’s whispering in her ear. If you fail to defend yourself here you get strangled. That’s it. Nothing sexual. It was unfortunate that we didn’t see the result play out at the E3 demo cos the scene left a lot to people’s imaginations unfortunately. The PR definitely didn’t help either.

  • Anonymous

    Adam….you really need to start reading what people post. If you don’t understand something we are trying to get across, THEN ASK. You are, once again, projecting a lot of stuff onto me, and my patience is wearing thin. I am an actual human being you are commenting to, and THIS IS THE STUFF OF MY LIFE YOU ARE “DEBATING” ON. Please keep that in mind if you wish to continue this conversation. Honestly, I’d rather do it in private at this point, since we’ve taken the original point far away from where it started.

  • Anonymous

    Nope. It is pretty obvious that this person is here to stir up shit, and you’ve taken their side.

  • Anonymous

    You are an adorable troll :)

  • Anonymous

    What is your point?

  • Anonymous

    We’re not arguing whether “it’s rape/ sexual assault/ wev” or not. That’s not the point. The point is, just that scene alone, is triggering to some people (myself included). And the lack of empathy shown, again and again, by the creators of the game, to not even own up to what they did, only adds salt to the wounds. If some people have a boundary of not wanting to play a video game, or watch a movie because there are things in there that THEY find triggering, they are perfectly valid to do so. If YOU are not triggered by what is shown, that’s your thing.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Right, I’ve seen that before. But did you ever consider that I also have a life? And have managed not to bring it up? Because the discussion I am having isn’t about my life. I am able to separate myself from the subject matter. You can’t, okay, but throwing that in my face doesn’t make you right. It makes you touchy. So?

  • Pink Apocalypse

    If you’re confused about the negative votes you’ve received, it’s probably due to your use of false equivalency (Google it), and becoming insulting in the process.

    Spiders cannot ‘attack’ you. Rapists can, and do at the rate of about 250,000 victims a year, not counting unreported war crimes.

  • http://twitter.com/Bennjoon Charlie

    As someone who could be ‘triggered’ by the scene in the game. I was not, I really enjoyed it and found it very empowering. We need to fully support this game if we are ever going to see a change in female video game characters.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Ok, but like you said, someone with arachnophobia may not want to play Skyrim. Should the developers have apologized to arachnophobics everywhere for that? Though the scenes as you said are triggering to you, they are incredibly mild and relatively fleeting. No one is dismissing your feelings, but not everyone knows what constitutes an abuse victim’s trigger.