Get Back Up

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Fiz_The_Toaster:
Great article and I think everyone who has reservations about the game because of the scene in the trailer should read this.

It's nice to see that some developer at least is making an attempt to make a female character, albeit a rather famous one, fight for herself when shit hits the fan and become stronger for it. Probably why I love Heather Mason and Jade as much as I do, but it's cool how CD is trying to make Lara relatable.

I hope they don't screw this up, but points for trying.

The issue, I suppose, is that it is alarmingly common for origin stories to feature a woman being half-raped. The implicit suggestion is that a young female hero needs to be violated before she can evolve into a badass; something which tends not to happen with most male protagonists. For guys, being an adventurous, tough hero comes naturally. For a girl, they have to be forced into it. I understand where the makers are coming from - they want to show a strong willed individual who has overcome great odds and survive real threats. Unfortunately though, the prevalence of this arc leaves some to come away with a different message; that women can't get their tough girl badge without a sexual assault badge.

Interestingly, it effects male characters in a different way - a male hero isn't a hero until he gets a scene where he saves a beautiful woman from a gang of roving street rapists. Lord knows where all these street rapists materialise from. Are they just waiting there for a sexy lady to pass down the dark alley, or is it always a coincidence?

Too many people I disagree with in the comments section to bother replying to them all. I just have a few observations:

1. You can't complain about an implied threat of rape scene that is clearly not in any way sensual. A few bad camera angles and some slightly different reactions would have made this awful. As is, it plays into the over-arching theme of the trailer...

2. External adversity vs. internal fortitude. I felt uncomfortable watching the trailer for the first time, but at least I felt something. She gets beaten bloody, tons of times. Not only does she get back up after it, she perseveres in spite of the internal conflict and doubt that she has.

3. Similarities: It's crazy how much they want this game to be like the opening scene of Uncharted 2. I've played through the entirety of all 3 Uncharted games, and I feel like I have a better connection to the Lara Croft featured in the trailer than any character in that series, especially Nathan Drake.

4. The bow. Being shipwrecked on an island with a bunch of sadistic criminals and using a makeshift bow for both survival and as a weapon is easily DC's jolly Green Archer's story, to the point of near plagiarism. However, I'm betting on it being a cash in on bow-fever caused by the Hunger Games.

Lyri:

Susan Arendt:
Get Back Up

Another way to look at the controversial Tomb Raider trailer.

Read Full Article

I agree so much with this article, although there is one point that I don't and that is the point about if you don't feel emotions for her then you're not a decent human being. Perhaps I am in the minority here but I watched the trailer and I never looked at Lara as in trouble like that, I have separated what is real and what is fiction and I didn't feel any sympathy for her.
Does that make me a bad human being?

I do however feel quite compelled when I see her getting up every time, it's a strange reversal from no concern of the injury but I want to applaud as it goes on and on.
I think part of me finds the lack of perfection appealing, frankly I'm sick of video games who have their heroes in dire straights and they don't look worse for wear at all. The image of Lara falling down a cliff took me aback for a second, I thought to myself that had this been the old TR then she would have been sliding down that gradient instead of tumbling.
To me this is trailer is more inspiring than anything I have ever seen from the video games industry, Lara is human.

I never meant to imply that you weren't a decent person if you weren't troubled by the trailer. I was just trying to counter this notion that if people were uncomfortable, that therefore meant the trailer was in some way wrong. It's ok to feel uncomfortable when you're watching something unpleasant...that's kind of the point. Not everyone gets like that, of course - some people cry at movies, others don't. So, no, I don't think you're a bad person if you weren't squirming every time she got hurt.

maninahat:

Fiz_The_Toaster:
Great article and I think everyone who has reservations about the game because of the scene in the trailer should read this.

It's nice to see that some developer at least is making an attempt to make a female character, albeit a rather famous one, fight for herself when shit hits the fan and become stronger for it. Probably why I love Heather Mason and Jade as much as I do, but it's cool how CD is trying to make Lara relatable.

I hope they don't screw this up, but points for trying.

The issue, I suppose, is that it is alarmingly common for origin stories to feature a woman being half-raped. The implicit suggestion is that a young female hero needs to be violated before she can evolve into a badass; something which tends not to happen with most male protagonists. For guys, being an adventurous, tough hero comes naturally. For a girl, they have to be forced into it. I understand where the makers are coming from - they want to show a strong willed individual who has overcome great odds and survive real threats. Unfortunately though, the prevalence of this arc leaves some to come away with a different message; that women can't get their tough girl badge without a sexual assault badge.

They will only come away with that message if they already think that way.

A more neutral observer will note that Lara must have already been fit and trained, to survive such an environment and the enemies in it.

The suggestion of Lara needing that abuse to grow, is yours. Mirroring that suggestion on every other woman in the world is also NOT the game.
There is not even any rape in that trailer and even the violence isn't painted in a gleeful sadistic manner.
It's all in our dirty minds already.

I reckon some gamers just WANT to be offended at things. I will admit that the discussions are entertaining.

BrotherRool:

tzimize:

In short: Yep.

Also to OP: I completely agree.

Also in general: I wish people stopped being so fucking offended all the time. Or even better, BE offended, but know that its ok to be offended and that the offensive item still exists.

I wish game companies grew some fucking balls and learned that offending people might not be a bad thing. Dont offend for the sake of it of course...but as for the hinted rape...DO IT. Its an unusual thing to do, and its an uncomfortable thing to do...but that makes it interesting. Experiencing this situation in a game does not mean that anyone playing the game is supporting rape.

Goddamnit people can be so extremely dense.

I agree that the gaming community is becoming increasingly negative at the moment and it's just as bad having companies fall over themselves trying to fix it. It'd be nice is people just thought 'Hey we're getting a new Deus Ex, could be cool!' rather than 'My childhood will be ruined!' We're getting a bit Lucasy about everything at the moment.

Saying that I'd say no to the rape, it's just such a traumatic thing for people who know about it, that you'd need a really really good reason to justify including it, rather than another reason to show hardship

And yet, we shoot people in games ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

What about the veterans? Post traumatic stress disorder? What about victims of car accidents, should we not make GTA?

I utterly fail to see how a hinted rape can be worse than straight up KILLING people in a game. Please, enlighten me. This is what I was talking about in my last post. The density.

You know, this makes a lot of sense. I am still in the "wait and see" party, but thank you for making me feel much better about the whole thing.

From what I have seen of the game so far, your description has pretty much been right on the mark, and it is a good thing. I don't think I could have seen this myself.

Thank you for keeping me humble.

veloper:

maninahat:

Fiz_The_Toaster:
snip

The issue, I suppose, is that it is alarmingly common for origin stories to feature a woman being half-raped. The implicit suggestion is that a young female hero needs to be violated before she can evolve into a badass; something which tends not to happen with most male protagonists. For guys, being an adventurous, tough hero comes naturally. For a girl, they have to be forced into it. I understand where the makers are coming from - they want to show a strong willed individual who has overcome great odds and survive real threats. Unfortunately though, the prevalence of this arc leaves some to come away with a different message; that women can't get their tough girl badge without a sexual assault badge.

They will only come away with that message if they already think that way.

A more neutral observer will note that Lara must have already been fit and trained, to survive such an environment and the enemies in it.

The suggestion of Lara needing that abuse to grow, is yours. Mirroring that suggestion on every other woman in the world is also NOT the game.
There is not even any rape in that trailer and even the violence isn't painted in a gleeful sadistic manner.
It's all in our dirty minds already.

As far as I understand, this is an origin story. She's never killed before, probably never been in any real danger, or fired a weapon. Now they could have told the story without an attempted rape scene, and it still would be a tale of Lara overcoming adversity and peril. If it were a male protagonist's origin story, there wouldn't have been a rape scene. It wouldn't have been deemed "necessary" in his story.

now if this were an isolated story of one woman narrowly averting a rape, then people probably wouldn't have kicked up a fuss. But this game wasn't made in a vacuum. Comics, movies, games etc are always working in a sexual assault for a woman to fight off/be rescued from/be broken by. After a while, it just becomes a gratuitous plot device that exploits our gut responses. At best it is overdone and lazy, at worst it is exploitative and insensitive. The words of the Exec producer suggest Tomb Raider leans towards the latter.

I reckon some gamers just WANT to be offended at things. I will admit that the discussions are entertaining.

You should say that the next time you or someone you care about is offended. I'm sure it'll help.

Woodsey:

While the trailer certainly pushes expectations quite heavily in a certain direction, it doesn't quite show enough to make definitive statements on how Lara behaves throughout it. (Nor should it; it's a trailer, not an academic dissection)

And as I apparently wasn't clear on it: he certainly has a point, and in all likelihood it's a valid design perspective. The problem, however, is that this is a middle-aged male from a notoriously chauvinist industry, working on a classic sex symbol in gaming, that mentions players feeling something very akin to "hero saving damsel in distress".

He might mean well, but he's certainly planted himself in a minefield of knee-jerk reactions - and all precedence is heavily stacked against him.

Kotaku article? What article?

tzimize:

BrotherRool:

tzimize:

In short: Yep.

Also to OP: I completely agree.

Also in general: I wish people stopped being so fucking offended all the time. Or even better, BE offended, but know that its ok to be offended and that the offensive item still exists.

I wish game companies grew some fucking balls and learned that offending people might not be a bad thing. Dont offend for the sake of it of course...but as for the hinted rape...DO IT. Its an unusual thing to do, and its an uncomfortable thing to do...but that makes it interesting. Experiencing this situation in a game does not mean that anyone playing the game is supporting rape.

Goddamnit people can be so extremely dense.

I agree that the gaming community is becoming increasingly negative at the moment and it's just as bad having companies fall over themselves trying to fix it. It'd be nice is people just thought 'Hey we're getting a new Deus Ex, could be cool!' rather than 'My childhood will be ruined!' We're getting a bit Lucasy about everything at the moment.

Saying that I'd say no to the rape, it's just such a traumatic thing for people who know about it, that you'd need a really really good reason to justify including it, rather than another reason to show hardship

And yet, we shoot people in games ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

What about the veterans? Post traumatic stress disorder? What about victims of car accidents, should we not make GTA?

I utterly fail to see how a hinted rape can be worse than straight up KILLING people in a game. Please, enlighten me. This is what I was talking about in my last post. The density.

Rape is considered an especially unpleasant crime, and it is specifically due to popular media that rape often seems worse than murder. In games, movies etc, killings are often quick and clean. A faceless mook is shot, he drops to the ground instantly and he dies with nothing more than a yelp or a grunt. Though killing should be the worst possible thing, it is often depicted as sanitised, instantaneous, and if it was a henchman's death, inconsequencial. Compare that to depictions of rape or torture, which requires a display of agony, fear and prolongued suffering. There is no wonder why people respond more harshly to rape.

Also, the argument that murder is worse than rape does not excuse depictions of rape. If anything, all you are arguing is that we should condemn depictions of murder as well. Perhaps we should.

I'm glad someone agrees with my view that this Lara is a strong if not stronger than her future counterpart. In that she is stronger in will, not physical capability in training. It's not meant to be getting off on seeing a young women get hurt, or wanting her to get "rescued". It's about the strength of will and tenacity of being thrust into this unbelievably harsh situation and overcoming it.

Kargathia:

Woodsey:

While the trailer certainly pushes expectations quite heavily in a certain direction, it doesn't quite show enough to make definitive statements on how Lara behaves throughout it. (Nor should it; it's a trailer, not an academic dissection)

And as I apparently wasn't clear on it: he certainly has a point, and in all likelihood it's a valid design perspective. The problem, however, is that this is a middle-aged male from a notoriously chauvinist industry, working on a classic sex symbol in gaming, that mentions players feeling something very akin to "hero saving damsel in distress".

He might mean well, but he's certainly planted himself in a minefield of knee-jerk reactions - and all precedence is heavily stacked against him.

Kotaku article? What article?

The one which posted his comments to begin with.

http://kotaku.com/5917400/youll-want-to-protect-the-new-less-curvy-lara-croft

Selective quotes and more than a little geared towards provoking a reaction.

Anyway, it seems we agree.

Pretty amazed at all the glass-half-full nonsense here. The combination of "they didn't -really- show rape" and "they didn't -really- mean to be chauvinistic" and "hey, nothing wrong with threatened sexual assault to humanize her" is just baffling. Are we really going with the "yeah its kinda bad but look in the bright side, she gets up afterwards"? And if you think writing rape and violence for a female protagonist is edgy, well you need to read more. It is one of the more tired tropes there is; lazy and uninventive.

Looking for a bright side of this kind of sexual violence trash is Pollyanna nonsense.

maninahat:

veloper:

maninahat:

The issue, I suppose, is that it is alarmingly common for origin stories to feature a woman being half-raped. The implicit suggestion is that a young female hero needs to be violated before she can evolve into a badass; something which tends not to happen with most male protagonists. For guys, being an adventurous, tough hero comes naturally. For a girl, they have to be forced into it. I understand where the makers are coming from - they want to show a strong willed individual who has overcome great odds and survive real threats. Unfortunately though, the prevalence of this arc leaves some to come away with a different message; that women can't get their tough girl badge without a sexual assault badge.

They will only come away with that message if they already think that way.

A more neutral observer will note that Lara must have already been fit and trained, to survive such an environment and the enemies in it.

The suggestion of Lara needing that abuse to grow, is yours. Mirroring that suggestion on every other woman in the world is also NOT the game.
There is not even any rape in that trailer and even the violence isn't painted in a gleeful sadistic manner.
It's all in our dirty minds already.

As far as I understand, this is an origin story. She's never killed before, probably never been in any real danger, or fired a weapon. Now they could have told the story without an attempted rape scene, and it still would be a tale of Lara overcoming adversity and peril. If it were a male protagonist's origin story, there wouldn't have been a rape scene. It wouldn't have been deemed "necessary" in his story.

now if this were an isolated story of one woman narrowly averting a rape, then people probably wouldn't have kicked up a fuss. But this game wasn't made in a vacuum. Comics, movies, games etc are always working in a sexual assault for a woman to fight off/be rescued from/be broken by. After a while, it just becomes a gratuitous plot device that exploits our gut responses. At best it is overdone and lazy, at worst it is exploitative and insensitive. The words of the Exec producer suggest Tomb Raider leans towards the latter.

I reckon some gamers just WANT to be offended at things. I will admit that the discussions are entertaining.

You should say that the next time you or someone you care about is offended. I'm sure it'll help.

I'm trying to save up some righteous anger right now for when someone actually shits on my own couch.

Square has trolled the internet magnificently and now all those indignant gamers are dirty accomplices for making that trailer a rape scene.

In the other lara rape thread (#10324031250), some poster said that the trailer is a very lazy way to create drama and he's right, but my god what drama. What free publicity.
+1 million for Square.

I agree with this... I also like the details such as lara saying "I'm sorry" as she kills a deer for food. It's how most girls I know would feel about killing something else for themselves to survive. It's necessary but they dont want to do it. The plotline also looks pretty good, it isnt just Lara going it on her own, she has to meet up with the other survivors and get off the island, like anyone would want to.

tzimize:

And yet, we shoot people in games ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

What about the veterans? Post traumatic stress disorder? What about victims of car accidents, should we not make GTA?

I utterly fail to see how a hinted rape can be worse than straight up KILLING people in a game. Please, enlighten me. This is what I was talking about in my last post. The density.

Because death is just over. You don't get people recovering from a horrible death they had. And death doesn't have to be bad, it can be quick, it's not explicitly painful, explicitly humiliating. Death isn't a matter of taking control away from somewhere and then forcing them to endure whilst they're helpless. It can be, but not always and the way we normally experience death in games is in a removed or fantastic manner. If a game lingered over someones slow death, then that'd be equal. Equally we've been desensitised to death so as a culture we're more resilient, whereas there's very little in the way of that regards to rape. We have power fantasties associated with death, death in our culture is permittable in certain cirumstances (particularly in war). There are no circumstances where rape is permittable.

The thing is there is no light and fluffy version of rape.

I think my memories fuzzy, but I didn't always think this way, but now my life has taken paths where I shudder at the idea and would find it very hard to watch. But I've had equal exposure to death and has not had the same affect.

When someone dies it's over, the way death brings grief is when it affects people you know and have relationships with. So it's easy to represent an 'okay' death, because you just kill people who we've got not attachment too. When people you know die it can be a long time before that becomes real to you and overcomes you, how much more so for people you don't know?

Rape is nothing like that, rape is more akin to torture and even then, rape is worse. We have debates over when torture is permissible, the degrees of torture and power fantasies of badasses who can withstand torture. Even still we have the word 'torture-porn' and a game that dwelt on the darkside of torture better be making a more important statement than just an entertaining game.

maninahat:

tzimize:

BrotherRool:

I agree that the gaming community is becoming increasingly negative at the moment and it's just as bad having companies fall over themselves trying to fix it. It'd be nice is people just thought 'Hey we're getting a new Deus Ex, could be cool!' rather than 'My childhood will be ruined!' We're getting a bit Lucasy about everything at the moment.

Saying that I'd say no to the rape, it's just such a traumatic thing for people who know about it, that you'd need a really really good reason to justify including it, rather than another reason to show hardship

And yet, we shoot people in games ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

What about the veterans? Post traumatic stress disorder? What about victims of car accidents, should we not make GTA?

I utterly fail to see how a hinted rape can be worse than straight up KILLING people in a game. Please, enlighten me. This is what I was talking about in my last post. The density.

Rape is considered an especially unpleasant crime, and it is specifically due to popular media that rape often seems worse than murder. In games, movies etc, killings are often quick and clean. A faceless mook is shot, he drops to the ground instantly and he dies with nothing more than a yelp or a grunt. Though killing should be the worst possible thing, it is often depicted as sanitised, instantaneous, and if it was a henchman's death, inconsequencial. Compare that to depictions of rape or torture, which requires a display of agony, fear and prolongued suffering. There is no wonder why people respond more harshly to rape.

Also, the argument that murder is worse than rape does not excuse depictions of rape. If anything, all you are arguing is that we should condemn depictions of murder as well. Perhaps we should.

Why the hell should we? A picture does not hurt anyone. Entertainment is voluntary.

While rape might feel worse at the time than a bullet to the head are you saying that you'd rather die than be raped?

I find it utterly retarded that people can get so up in arms over the DEPICTION of the rape of PIXELS. With all the other crazy shit we do in games, this is so light its nothing. I've sawed people in half in games. SAWED THEM IN HALF. Thats not quick, clean or sanitized.

Do I think about it a lot? No. Because its a game.

I refer to my previous example. What about people that have been mutilated (lost a foot or two for example) in car crashes, should we not make gta because you can mow down people? Or is the act of rape so "sacred" that all other suffering is nullified?

I dont understand why the hell people are treating these things so differently.

BrotherRool:

tzimize:

And yet, we shoot people in games ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

What about the veterans? Post traumatic stress disorder? What about victims of car accidents, should we not make GTA?

I utterly fail to see how a hinted rape can be worse than straight up KILLING people in a game. Please, enlighten me. This is what I was talking about in my last post. The density.

Because death is just over. You don't get people recovering from a horrible death they had. And death doesn't have to be bad, it can be quick, it's not explicitly painful, explicitly humiliating. Death isn't a matter of taking control away from somewhere and then forcing them to endure whilst they're helpless. It can be, but not always and the way we normally experience death in games is in a removed or fantastic manner. If a game lingered over someones slow death, then that'd be equal. Equally we've been desensitised to death so as a culture we're more resilient, whereas there's very little in the way of that regards to rape. We have power fantasties associated with death, death in our culture is permittable in certain cirumstances (particularly in war). There are no circumstances where rape is permittable.

The thing is there is no light and fluffy version of rape.

I think my memories fuzzy, but I didn't always think this way, but now my life has taken paths where I shudder at the idea and would find it very hard to watch. But I've had equal exposure to death and has not had the same affect.

When someone dies it's over, the way death brings grief is when it affects people you know and have relationships with. So it's easy to represent an 'okay' death, because you just kill people who we've got not attachment too. When people you know die it can be a long time before that becomes real to you and overcomes you, how much more so for people you don't know?

Rape is nothing like that, rape is more akin to torture and even then, rape is worse. We have debates over when torture is permissible, the degrees of torture and power fantasies of badasses who can withstand torture. Even still we have the word 'torture-porn' and a game that dwelt on the darkside of torture better be making a more important statement than just an entertaining game.

So you'd rather die than be raped? Raping someone is worse than killing someone in cold blood? Do you really think that?

I find that hard to believe, and as I said it annoys the hell out of me that people cannot stand to even think about pixels being raped. Its a game. And as has been previously said, if something bad happens you're supposed to feel uncomfortable. Thats the entire point! That means the game is doing what it set out to!

Grey Knight:
I agree with most of the piece, but this part sticks in my throat a bit.

I understand why people are troubled by the trailer - watching a young girl in pain is difficult. It should be difficult. You're not supposed to see a girl get impaled and think "Hell, yeah, that's cool!" - though there are certainly people out there doing just that. If you feel uncomfortable watching scenes of Lara in peril, that doesn't mean the trailer is foul, it means that you're a decent human being who doesn't like to watch suffering.

Right after this:

Their ire was fueled when Ron Rosenberg, the game's executive producer, made some pretty dumb comments about players not identifying with Lara, instead wanting to "protect her." Rosenberg came off sounding like a condescending chauvinist who doesn't understand the first thing about the player's relationship with Lara

You're right, Lara is a young girl, and it is uncomfortable to watch her in the situations portrayed. In fact, I think it's safe to say that many people who don't fall into the "Hell, yeah, that's cool!" crowd would want to protect a young girl from just that kind of situation. It's not chauvinistic when basic human instinct kicks in to protect a young person. Saying that somebody is chauvinistic or dumb to want to protect a young girl is tantamount to endorsing the "Hell, yeah, that's cool!" crowd. Like stated, a decent person isn't going to want to see another person suffer. You can relate and sympathize at the same time.

I wholeheartedly agree with this.

Seriously when has empathy been equivalent to chauvinism?!?

Rosenberg did choose his words poorly, but...

You're meant to want, in most games, to protect your character, and keep them alive. Making you fear for your character is meant to make that a more intense experience.

Amnesia isn't exciting because you're running around in a poorly rendered dark series of rooms. It's because you're scared that if you stuff up, you'll die, horribly.

Having a character threatened with injury, abuse, damage or death is meant to make us want to protect them, even if it's simply in the context of letting the game continue.

That said, terrible choice of words.

Getting back up has no impact unless you see what knocks her down. I think that is the point the trailer is making. This was one of the most emotionally impacting video of a game that I have seen. I am very surprised to be excited for a tomb raider game.

Woodsey:

Three: Does the person who wrote that Tweet protest every film with a rape scene? I watched The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo recently (American version) and that has the nastiest fucking rape scene I've ever seen - that doesn't make it wrong. It's necessary to the characters advancement.

I can't agree enough with this sentiment. The Stieg Larsson series repeatedly shows rape and sexual assault, and yes, this could "Trigger" some people. That's what the ratings system and warnings are for, so I'm not 100% sure where the criticism from that angle comes from (I'm capped, so I can't check if it says anything specific about it in the trailer's rating warning. If they haven't, they probably should, I'd agree there).

But, going on with that example, horrible, graphic sexual violence is depicted in those books. But it's depicted as a despicable, evil thing, with the intent of not only demonising it and criticising it, but also horribly punishes the characters who do it. Heck, the book's even got women's violence statistics in between each part.

Similarly, I remember "filmcritichulk" getting annoyed about the rape suggestions from the inmates in Arkham City. But the thing is, those characters are meant to be enemies, and what they say is demonstrating how corrupt and evil they are, before they get their comeuppance from the Bat. Yeah, the repeated reference to it in the game is a cheap simple way of going about setting up the enemy as bad guys, which can get old fast, but it's in no way endorsing rape, or dehumanising women, it's criticising that. With a Batarang.

For all the TV tropers, it's a "Kick the Puppy" moment at worst, a simple, exploitative way of having a villain do something irredeemably wrong to establish them as not only evil, but as deserving of their punishment.

Hey, Susan. I saw your Tweets about the comments here.

@SusanArendt:
Every time I write something from a female perspective, I get hate mail/comments about my "feminist preaching" or "feminist agenda". I really have no idea how to process that. Makes me want to just give up sometimes.

Thanks for quoting me, BTW. I thought I handled my post gently enough to not come off as a jerk there... :/

In any case, your Tweets absolutely baffle me. You were talking about how strong the character in the trailer is for getting back up from all the adversity that she faced, and how we should all see her as such. That part, I agreed with. But then, in the face of a few comments adverse to your opinion on the matter, you talk about giving up?!

Take your own advice, Susan! Jeez!

I became less enthralled by arcade games- the kind you put 25 cents into- when the typical design started to become less about the player's skill and more about how quickly the player could be enticed to put another quarter (or two, or more) into the machine.

I confess I'm somewhat troubled by the idea of games where the protagonist's suffering is inevitable, not something that can be overcome by skill. You can hang in captivity, or you can set yourself on fire and impale yourself. You can fall off a cliff, or you can persevere to be beaten and threatened with rape.

(You can watch the universe as you know it be destroyed, or you can destroy it yourself.)

Darker and Edgier, 2.0.

I'm not going to say that there's no place for this kind of thing. Artistic medium, different avenues of expression, different stories to be told and characters to tell those stories, yatta yatta boilerplate.

But when I see this kind of thing being pushed by Lara Croft, a character who for many years was everything video game companies longed for for themselves, I worry that two years from now we might see every hero's "success" "rewarded" by more scenes of their inevitable suffering.

I don't need more excuses to abandon the medium all together.

While rape might feel worse at the time than a bullet to the head are you saying that you'd rather die than be raped?

Yes, yes I would. Especially considering many Trauma victims wish they had.

I hate seeing this fallacy pop up. "But we do all kinds of murder!"
The other poster put it best. Bullets to the body, the NPC drops and it's over.
This other stuff is "Torture Porn".

Loonyyy:

For all the TV tropers, it's a "Kick the Puppy" moment at worst, a simple, exploitative way of having a villain do something irredeemably wrong to establish them as not only evil, but as deserving of their punishment.

The problem is that there are innumerable ways to portray a villain as evil. Rape just seems the lazy way to do it.

I'd be with you 100% if it weren't for the uneasy fact that you're choosing to interpret it that way, and power to you... but that doesn't seem to be CD's intent. And it's the 'intent' I find offensive. I agree that it's inspirational that Lara keeps struggling instead of giving up, but I struggle to think of any male characters who are featured as constantly-abused and sexually exploited throughout their games, where the 'triumph' is in the fact that they don't give up and die.

I have to wonder what the 'failure' condition is for her fighting off the rapist. Maybe they're just going to make it a cutscene. Because... ick, otherwise.

Edit: A cutscene you can't fail, I mean.

itsthesheppy:
I have to wonder what the 'failure' condition is for her fighting off the rapist. Maybe they're just going to make it a cutscene. Because... ick, otherwise.

Edit: A cutscene you can't fail, I mean.

So far, it isn't even clear if there *is* a near-rape scene. That one guy described it as such, and then Ubisoft called it a mistake, and claimed that it wa just supposed to be a random attacker that grabbed her arm.

For all we know, if the latter information is correct, the supposed "rapist" will just kill her if you fail a QTE.

Grayston245:
Hey, Susan. I saw your Tweets about the comments here.

@SusanArendt:
Every time I write something from a female perspective, I get hate mail/comments about my "feminist preaching" or "feminist agenda". I really have no idea how to process that. Makes me want to just give up sometimes.

Thanks for quoting me, BTW. I thought I handled my post gently enough to not come off as a jerk there... :/

Not really. But you at least abstained from mentioning that I just need a "good dicking," as others have.

Callate:

But when I see this kind of thing being pushed by Lara Croft, a character who for many years was everything video game companies longed for for themselves, I worry that two years from now we might see every hero's "success" "rewarded" by more scenes of their inevitable suffering.

I don't need more excuses to abandon the medium all together.

I don't quite understand what you mean by this - could you explain that a bit more?

There's always this women are weaker than men thing going on, but that's just a societal issue, since from a biological standpoint women are technically stronger, tougher and can endure more than males. Males might be able to lift more, have bigger muscles and what not, but women can withstand more, due to more pain receptors, partly because their bodies are designed to ensure the survival of two different bodies (a baby and her.) Least, that's the impression I got from the various things I've read and heard. They can take gun shots better, endure more physically demanding pain, have stronger immune systems and so on and so forth.

Alterego-X:

itsthesheppy:
I have to wonder what the 'failure' condition is for her fighting off the rapist. Maybe they're just going to make it a cutscene. Because... ick, otherwise.

Edit: A cutscene you can't fail, I mean.

So far, it isn't even clear if there *is* a near-rape scene. That one guy described it as such, and then Ubisoft called it a mistake, and claimed that it wa just supposed to be a random attacker that grabbed her arm.

For all we know, if the latter information is correct, the supposed "rapist" will just kill her if you fail a QTE.

Have you seen the trailer? She's got her hands cuffed behind her back, and this guy is chest-to-chest with her, his hand sliding down her side. Yeah. 'Just grabbing her arm'. The camera cuts in and there's a sudden music hit, and I'm pretty sure she knees him in the groin.

They're backtracking because it went over like a lead balloon. I'll bet you one shiny dollar that says the scene gets cut from the game before it ships.

itsthesheppy:
They're backtracking because it went over like a lead balloon. I'll bet you one shiny dollar that says the scene gets cut from the game before it ships.

I'd say that's likely. Oh damn, I sense another debate about 'compromised artistic visions' ala ME3 coming up around March 2013.

Susan Arendt:
Not really. But you at least abstained from mentioning that I just need a "good dicking," as others have.

Really? Wow. I mean I'm cynical as hell but even so I'm shocked a bit surprised. I'd have thought the Escapist was a bit better than that.

That aside, personally I didn't think the article came across as pushing any kind of feminist agenda, and given what a heated subject this has become I take my hat off to you for not playing the much overused 'girl gamer' card.

Sixcess:

itsthesheppy:
They're backtracking because it went over like a lead balloon. I'll bet you one shiny dollar that says the scene gets cut from the game before it ships.

I'd say that's likely. Oh damn, I sense another debate about 'compromised artistic visions' ala ME3 coming up around March 2013.

Susan Arendt:
Not really. But you at least abstained from mentioning that I just need a "good dicking," as others have.

Really? Wow. I mean I'm cynical as hell but even so I'm shocked a bit surprised. I'd have thought the Escapist was a bit better than that.

That aside, personally I didn't think the article came across as pushing any kind of feminist agenda, and given what a heated subject this has become I take my hat off to you for not playing the much overused 'girl gamer' card.

For some people on the escapist, any notion that women shouldn't be in the kitchen 100% of the time making 'sandvich' is feminist.

I thought this was a wonderful read, again a Susan Arendt article I seem to agree with.
(Also interesting to note how all facebook comments are positive)

Susan Arendt:
I never meant to imply that you weren't a decent person if you weren't troubled by the trailer. I was just trying to counter this notion that if people were uncomfortable, that therefore meant the trailer was in some way wrong. It's ok to feel uncomfortable when you're watching something unpleasant...that's kind of the point. Not everyone gets like that, of course - some people cry at movies, others don't. So, no, I don't think you're a bad person if you weren't squirming every time she got hurt.

I'm sorry I misinterpreted your point, thank you for taking the time out to clarify though.

Thank you Susan for pointing this out intelligently. I hadn't thought about the possibility that they could work it towards a positive survivor story... granted I'm still very cynical and skeptical. If they keep the gameplay elements of the original tomb raider I'm not sure how you make that work. How do you go from tense danger to fun platforming and still keep that idea of this scene being anything more than a throw away.

I'll keep an eye out for your review. You will be the one reviewing this, right? Right?

the abyss gazes also:
Thank you Susan for pointing this out intelligently. I hadn't thought about the possibility that they could work it towards a positive survivor story... granted I'm still very cynical and skeptical. If they keep the gameplay elements of the original tomb raider I'm not sure how you make that work. How do you go from tense danger to fun platforming and still keep that idea of this scene being anything more than a throw away.

I'll keep an eye out for your review. You will be the one reviewing this, right? Right?

Yep. I'm all over this review when the time comes.

Remember "Testikill"?. That was an achievement where you injure a man's genitals until it kills him.

So I read this, and I wonder if Susan would have felt that equally scary. Sure Lara doesn't actually have her genitals injured, it doesn't even come close to happening, it's just implied and she escapes, which is obviously "difficult". Just wondering, when it came to shooting a man in his reproductive organs and killing him this way, were you likewise seeing a person that unfortunately didn't have the luck to escape "dramatic adversity, an adversity so extreme she [in this case "he"] couldn't possibly imagine it, let alone expect to find herself [himself] faced with it."?

Sure, the context is different, but so are the outcomes. She's not viciously attacked in her vagina until it kills her, unlocking an achievement for the player, she's threatened and in the end nothing actually happens to her genitalia at all.

I'm just really genuinely curious where the line is here. I realize this is the flavor the the month, I get that this is what people are talking about, but let's face it, in action games there's a radically lopsided slant against men; men are brutalized, murdered, maimed, and sexually assaulted by a far greater margin than women. How often have we seen men being the object of some obsessed female character's unwanted and harassing advances? How often have we seen male characters being put in vulnerable situations where they are violated by other men or by women? I can't even count how many games out there have some form of a testicle assault, but they're out there, and there's a lot of them.

It's your article, your word, I accept that. I applaud that you're willing to see Lara's escape from such a personal assault as an act of empowerment and triumph against a terrible threat against her. I just find it curious that when it's happened to men over all these many years in video games, that it's neither controversial or laudable.

Just my thoughts.

My main issue is the apparent disconnect that exists between the gameplay footage presented and the themes. Maybe I'm old school, but I like to think that the method by which the player interacts with the game through the mechanics should reflect the message that the game presents to the player. In essence, the medium is the method is the massage.

What this Tomb Raider reboot seems to present is the classic case of Cutscene Vulnerability, where the character undergoes terrible ordeals as presented in cutscene, but in gameplay is a total badass that can take on all comers.

For example, Metroid: Other M. The problem is not that Samus is vulnerable (her blind obediance and reliance on Adam Malkovich being one case, the notorious battle against Ridley being the other). THe problem is that outside of cutscenes, she kicks ass and takes names like the might galactic bounty hunter that she is.

Video games where the protagonist fights have difficulty expressing weakness in their hero. After all, if the player can rip through a hundred enemies with barely a scratch (completely possible with many FPS and 3PS games), portraying that character as anything other than badass in cutscene creates a narrative disconnect between the game and the player.

A good example of reinforcing character weakness in games in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The player feels helpless because Daniel himself is helpless to fight the monsters that fill Alexander's castle. His only methods of defense are to hide or flee, he has no weapons and no methods of defending himself otherwise. There exist no mechanics to attack enemies.

On the other hand, this Tomb Raider game clearly allows Lara Croft to wield bows, a bladed weapon (from the concept art, probably a machete), and at least one handgun, if not her signature dual-wielding. She can clearly use these weapons to competently defend herself from enemies. Yet she is shown in multiple instances as being relatively unable to defend herself from attackers.

Many games have situations where protagonists are stronger in cutscene than in gameplay. Bayonetta is a very powerful and competent main character, but I personally struggle to survive even moderately powerful enemies on Normal difficulty; I've only beaten the game on Easy. However, this serves to encourage the player to perform better - to become skilled enough in regular gameplay as to feel like the badass their character is intended to be. This gives the player a feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction that they have become skilled at defeating new and greater challenges that the game presents.

A game where the character's competency is LOWERED in cutscene does the opposite, it forces the player to question whether the skills they have learned to beat the game are actually useful or not. If Bayonetta acts like a simpering child in cutscenes, failing at every turn and barely surviving, and then I take control and mop up the enemies with my real-life skills, how can I connect with her character?

Thank you for reading all of this. I tend to go on quite a bit, but I feel that this is an important issue.

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