Well I won't be buying the new Tomb Raider...

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A couple of hours ago a friend of mine directed me toward this article in Kotaku.

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

I've been following the recent controversy over the Hitman trailer, the one that inexplicably featured bondage nuns getting seven shades of holy water beaten out of them by 47. In my opinion, this description of Lara Croft is even more offensive to women than that.

In the Hitman trailer, overly sexualised women were being beaten up because we're supposed to want to kill them. They are, after all, attempting to murder the game's protagonist, moody anti-hero that he is. In a certain context it makes sense, and it's clearly the glamorisation of violence against scantily clad women that offends, rather than the fact that 47 kills women at all. If they hadn't been wearing fetish gear (or habits) and hadn't been dispatched in super slo-mo then there might have been less negative reaction. You know, if they'd been dressed like hardcore assassins rather than strippers...

Isn't this description of the "new" Lara Croft much more offensive to female gamers in particular, and women in general? It manages to imply that large breasts make a woman less human for starters. It also makes a point that gamers (who are ideally supposed to be projecting onto the characters they are playing) will want to "protect" her, because she's "more vulnerable." Yes, you make a woman more realistic by ensuring she's less sexually empowered and needs a lot more looking after by the (presumably target male demographic) gamers that play her. *sarcasm*

Is it just me that's a little disgusted by this? Fair enough, original Lara was a caricature, sexualised to the point of hilarity, and completely unsuitable as an aspirational model of womanhood. But she was at least able to look after herself. She was a bit of a badass, no denying, and that was something she had going for her. Men may have been more focused on her breasts, but the fact that she had an attitude was inescapable, albeit an attitude that occasionally spilled over into parody. In some ways original Lara was much more honest than this new, "realistic" Lara. After all, the protagonist in most games, male of female, is a ridiculously badass, fit, attractive, muscular specimen of humanity, who is perfect in almost every way. I know these aren't things we realistically aspire to, as I'm sure most gamers out there do. To believe that you could be exactly like these people, indeed to want to be exactly like these people, is clearly delusional behaviour. But at least they usually have some admirable personality traits, be it confidence, determination, etc... Original Lara was no different. Her body shape was literally impossible to achieve, but at least she wasn't just a pair of breasts bouncing above a hot-pants clad arse.

To aspire to be new Lara would be the pinnacle of insanity. Here is a young woman who is portrayed as being totally helpless and vulnerable. Yes, she learns to fend for herself. Yes, by the end of the game we can assume she'll be strong and independent with a badass attitude. But what does it take for her to achieve this? This wilting violet of a girl has to be subjected to more hideous torture and brutality than any of us are ever likely to experience. The implication of this is that the only way for a woman to develop an attitude and be able to look after herself is for her to undergo unspeakable hardship. And of course to have the big male ego of the gamer caring for her at every step. The fact that this hardship has to be rape as opposed to anything else is truly despicable.

Why couldn't we have a Lara we could try to identify with? I see no fundamental difference between one that men only play because they want to ogle her tits and one men only want to play because they feel the need to take care of the poor little girl. Both models of femininity are equally sexist in my opinion. And rape, seriously?

Am I just overreacting? Or is it a valid point? What do you all think?

Like I always said, if people want to be offended they will find a way to be offended.

But in no way does the game suggest all people must undergo torture in order to be skillful, it simply tells her story and how she came about this.
Still I won't be buying it either for similar reasons, depictions of genuine torture and watching people suffer is not my idea of entertainment, yes I am well aware that such things happen but I will never seek them out let alone pay for them.

Am I getting it right that pointing out any feminine feature of a woman is sexist now to someone?

Lara was criticised about having large breasts and now people are calling it sexist to remove what was called an over sexualised character trait.

Why not give every character ever (male, female, whatever) massive tits. You can't complain if everyone has a huge pair of jubblies.

Obligatory

It all depends on how it is handled. If the character and her arch is well written and believable then I really don't see an issue. As far as I can tell they aren't suggesting women are weak and need protection, but rather that Lara is young an inexperience with absolutely no concept of what kind of hardship this adventure will bring her. I am wondering how they will handle the rape attempt though. I would be pleasantly surprised if they managed to actually make a non-offensive and compelling scenario, this being the game industry and all. Rape is hard enough to handle in other media, especially when being written primarily by men for men.

Also, I am surprised more people aren't upset over the depiction of natives as crazy rapists. Reminds me of when Race Bannon would murderer a bunch of them screaming, "SAVAGES!"

Why is removing oversexualisation mysoginistic?

People would buy the game because of boobs. People complained, rightly, because it was very objectifying.
Why do you have such a problem with this?

"And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her. "She is literally turned into a cornered animal," Rosenberg said. "It's a huge step in her evolution: she's forced to either fight back or die."

Wow.

And I thought I was maybe reading too much into the trailer when I saw it last week, but this, coming from one of the producers of the game, just raises it to a new level of creepy.

I'm dreading this. I don't want to see Lara pick up her iconic handguns as a reaction to an attempted rape. That's not a strong believable female character - that's just sleazy, and I am really concerned that this is the kind of exploitation movie thinking that's driving the reboot.

Lara was the iconic female video game hero of the 90s. She didn't need a justification for going on adventures and kicking ass any more than her male counterparts did. Now it's a reaction to an attempted rape. How can this possibly be seen as a step forward?

This is going to be worse than Other M.

Urgh... apparently it's impossible to have a female protagonist without stirring up gender politics.

The game is about a young woman on an expedition that goes pear-shaped. Ugly shit goes down and she has to fight to survive. Why is this getting people's hackles up? Would people be getting upset if it was a guy?

We finally get a game that's trying (albeit rather haltingly) to get away from the standard kill-everything-that-speaks-Russian power trip and people start squalling because "OMG, it's a chick."

Zhukov:
Urgh... apparently it's impossible to have a female protagonist without stirring up gender politics.

The game is about a young woman on an expedition that goes pear-shaped. Ugly shit goes down and she has to fight to survive. Why is this getting people's hackles up? Would people be getting upset if it was a guy?

Men don't have feelings, so that would be okay.

Zhukov:

Would people be getting upset if it was a guy?

Uh, if the latest Duke Nukem game revealed that a near-rape experience was why the Duke became who he is, you'd be able to hear the jimmies rustling from miles away.

Oh wow people, where does it state that it was just because of the attempted rape that she became the badass Lara? It's the whole experience, the whole having to fend of a multitude of hardships by yourself. In the original bio in te 90s it just said that Lara trecked through the mountains for two weeks barely surviving as she walked into a village. After that she was incapable of fitting back into her comfortable social status and began adventures all over the world. This game, if done right, is just taking that sentence and making a game out of it. It hasn't changed anything, just making it more explicit.

What I'm wary of is the sheer amount of people that seem to be on the island in spite of its "remote and mysterious nature"(Is this Lost or what?) and what seems to be this telegraphed and linear gameplay, again. What ever happened to letting people wander around feeling confused? That's what made the exploration in these games different. In fact, it's what would make it stand apart from Uncharted.

Kahunaburger:

Zhukov:

Would people be getting upset if it was a guy?

Uh, if the latest Duke Nukem game revealed that a near-rape experience was why the Duke became who he is, you'd be able to hear the jimmies rustling from miles away.

Well, you'd hear me laughing from miles away.

...

Okay, seriously now, would folks be less upset if it was a new IP? Are people upset because it's Lara Croft specifically? 'Cause it seems to me that the developers have been very clear that they're going for a different tone to the old games. They use the word "mature" like it's going out of fashion.

Also, and this is speculation, I don't think the near-rapage is supposed to be "why she becomes who she is", but rather just the first time she has to kill a dude.

...

Is the "gaming community" just not ready for a game where the protagonist nearly gets raped?

(Although I'm sure it's happened before. I remember the guy in Mafia II nearly finding himself on the receiving end of a prison shower scene.)

Zhukov:

Also, and this is speculation, I don't think the near-rapage is supposed to be "why she becomes who she is", but rather just the first time she has to kill a dude.

Well, here's the developer quote Sixcess put there:

Sixcess:
"And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her. "She is literally turned into a cornered animal," Rosenberg said. "It's a huge step in her evolution: she's forced to either fight back or die."

Zhukov:
Is the "gaming community" just not ready for a game where the protagonist nearly gets raped?

Well, considering the whole issue with writing of all media using a simplistic take on rape as an easy way to drum up teh dramas and/or create conflict/backstory for female characters they don't know what to do with otherwise, I'm not particularly eager to see video games jumping on the bandwagon as well. I mean, seriously, that shit was played out even 2-3 decades back in Red Sonja.

Sixcess:
I'm dreading this. I don't want to see Lara pick up her iconic handguns as a reaction to an attempted rape.

Neither do I. I want to see Lara pick up her handguns to shoot evil Italians and dinosaurs.

Zhukov:
Urgh... apparently it's impossible to have a female protagonist without stirring up gender politics.

The game is about a young woman on an expedition that goes pear-shaped. Ugly shit goes down and she has to fight to survive. Why is this getting people's hackles up? Would people be getting upset if it was a guy?

Because it's Lara Croft, and Tomb Raider we're talking about. People expect Lara Croft to be a serious yet fun-loving English lady, richer than the world, who travels the world in search of powerful artifacts for shits and giggles. She also shoots stuff.

So far, what I've read about the new game is going to break that. I wouldn't mind or care much if they called it any other character and game, but once again, it's Lara Croft and Tomb Raider.

What is also weird is that this is supposed to take place before she became the badass, treasure hunting, tomb raiding, gun toting lady she is right now. I recall there being both Tomb Raider 4 as well as Legend and Underworld, that both had bits about Lara's past. In the TR4 bit, she was very young, probably not even an adult yet. She was already hunting treasures by then, I recall. So did the new Tomb Raider happen before that? How old is she supposed to be in the new game anyway? If it's supposed to have happened before the TR4 bit, she'd be in puberty in the new game, if not before that. That makes it a lot creepier all of a sudden.

Also, BTW, if people want to create a "mature" version of Lara Croft, the obvious angle is a satire of imperialism. Because you literally have a person from a colonizer country travelling the colonized world in search of shiny shit to take.

Greyah:

Zhukov:
Urgh... apparently it's impossible to have a female protagonist without stirring up gender politics.

The game is about a young woman on an expedition that goes pear-shaped. Ugly shit goes down and she has to fight to survive. Why is this getting people's hackles up? Would people be getting upset if it was a guy?

Because it's Lara Croft, and Tomb Raider we're talking about. People expect Lara Croft to be a serious yet fun-loving English lady, richer than the world, who travels the world in search of powerful artifacts for shits and giggles. She also shoots stuff.

So far, what I've read about the new game is going to break that. I wouldn't mind or care much if they called it any other character and game, but once again, it's Lara Croft and Tomb Raider.

What is also weird is that this is supposed to take place before she became the badass, treasure hunting, tomb raiding, gun toting lady she is right now. I recall there being both Tomb Raider 4 as well as Legend and Underworld, that both had bits about Lara's past. In the TR4 bit, she was very young, probably not even an adult yet. She was already hunting treasures by then, I recall. So did the new Tomb Raider happen before that? How old is she supposed to be in the new game anyway? If it's supposed to have happened before the TR4 bit, she'd be in puberty in the new game, if not before that. That makes it a lot creepier all of a sudden.

It's called a reboot for a reason.

The developers have been clear and consistent throughout that they're not trying to recreate the shits-and-giggles tone of the old games.

I probably will, if only because I've kinda wanted to try out uncharted, but I don't own or wish to buy a PS3.

I don't want to see Lara Croft nearly raped. I don't want to play a survival horror where she gets beat up and broken. I want a strong female protagonist that is self sufficient, I want her to be defined by her heroic actions, her strong will to do whatever is necessary, and her strength to take on whatever comes at her. I want to face off against Krakens, Egyptian Gods, ninjas and mummies, not watch her get tied up and beaten by bandits. As someone else pointed out this is very much 'Josh Whedon' feminism, and that sickens me.

Greyah:

What is also weird is that this is supposed to take place before she became the badass, treasure hunting, tomb raiding, gun toting lady she is right now. I recall there being both Tomb Raider 4 as well as Legend and Underworld, that both had bits about Lara's past. In the TR4 bit, she was very young, probably not even an adult yet. She was already hunting treasures by then, I recall. So did the new Tomb Raider happen before that? How old is she supposed to be in the new game anyway? If it's supposed to have happened before the TR4 bit, she'd be in puberty in the new game, if not before that. That makes it a lot creepier all of a sudden.

Yes, Lara Croft's history is very very well documented, and has been visited plenty of times in the games already. In Tomb Raider the last revelation you play the tutorial missions as a 16 year old Lara on her first tomb exploration, and she is a witty, sarcastic, flirty high-spirited rebel. I'm This just completely throws that out the window.

Kahunaburger:

Zhukov:

Would people be getting upset if it was a guy?

Uh, if the latest Duke Nukem game revealed that a near-rape experience was why the Duke became who he is, you'd be able to hear the jimmies rustling from miles away.

It's highly unlikely that the near-rape experience would turn wilting violet LC into badass LC. In fact, after the near-rape experience, which probably happens within the first 20-30 minutes of gameplay, she's still weak and freaking out. It's the rest of the panic-stricken adventure and her survival which will turn her into the badass.

As for the previous series(it's a REBOOT) that doesn't really matter.

I see nothing wrong with trying to make us connect with a female character. And by gum it worked. I actually felt emotion for Lara. For once.

cynicalandbored:
A couple of hours ago a friend of mine directed me toward this article in Kotaku.

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

I've been following the recent controversy over the Hitman trailer, the one that inexplicably featured bondage nuns getting seven shades of holy water beaten out of them by 47. In my opinion, this description of Lara Croft is even more offensive to women than that.

In the Hitman trailer, overly sexualised women were being beaten up because we're supposed to want to kill them. They are, after all, attempting to murder the game's protagonist, moody anti-hero that he is. In a certain context it makes sense, and it's clearly the glamorisation of violence against scantily clad women that offends, rather than the fact that 47 kills women at all. If they hadn't been wearing fetish gear (or habits) and hadn't been dispatched in super slo-mo then there might have been less negative reaction. You know, if they'd been dressed like hardcore assassins rather than strippers...

To address this quickly. I don't think that there is particularly anything wrong with that trailer. It isn't presented in a hateful manner; you're not rooting for 47 to kill those assassins because they're women, you are rooting for him because they are the antagonists and he is the protagonist. Now, to address their style: We live in a world where our media has a lot of freedom to explore ideas. One of the things that we choose to explore often is our sexuality. Human sexuality isn't always clear-cut, God approved missionary sex. People have ALL sorts of fetishes and often times, in exploring those in media, we get a story that better resonates with the audience and at the same time, allows us to better understand ourselves. Now take the Femme Fatale. This isn't the first time that someone has said that there is something sexy about deadly, beautiful women. It's a trope you see all the time. Look at James Bond. I think that it's fine for movies and games and other media to explore concepts like this as long as they're not done in a hateful manner as I said.

cynicalandbored:

Isn't this description of the "new" Lara Croft much more offensive to female gamers in particular, and women in general? It manages to imply that large breasts make a woman less human for starters. It also makes a point that gamers (who are ideally supposed to be projecting onto the characters they are playing) will want to "protect" her, because she's "more vulnerable." Yes, you make a woman more realistic by ensuring she's less sexually empowered and needs a lot more looking after by the (presumably target male demographic) gamers that play her. *sarcasm*

No, it doesn't say that having large breasts makes a woman less human. It is saying that the old Laura was a sexualized caricature; NOT a person. She was sexualized to point where you could not believe she was a person because no real person looked the way she did. She did not feel human because no human being looks the way she looked. There was absolutely nothing "sexually empowering" about the original Laura. Now she looks like a person rather than a doll.

As for the "Protecting her" thing, I'm sure I'm going to be addressing this a lot, but the main point is this. This Laura Croft is not the Laura Croft from the rest of the games. She is not a "hero" at the start of the game. She's a young adult who from what can be surmised by the trailers is not at the start of the game particularly skilled in any of the endeavors she is undertaking. She's just a normal person thrust into a extraordinary situation. In that context, wanting to "Protect your character" makes SENSE, because the character is incapable of mounting a serious offense. What is important here is that this is a gender neutral concept. I'm male, but if you stuck me in a scenario like this, I would need just as much "protection" because I have no survival skills or combat skills myself and would just as easily die as this game's Laura.

cynicalandbored:

Is it just me that's a little disgusted by this? Fair enough, original Lara was a caricature, sexualised to the point of hilarity, and completely unsuitable as an aspirational model of womanhood. But she was at least able to look after herself. She was a bit of a badass, no denying, and that was something she had going for her. Men may have been more focused on her breasts, but the fact that she had an attitude was inescapable, albeit an attitude that occasionally spilled over into parody. In some ways original Lara was much more honest than this new, "realistic" Lara. After all, the protagonist in most games, male of female, is a ridiculously badass, fit, attractive, muscular specimen of humanity, who is perfect in almost every way. I know these aren't things we realistically aspire to, as I'm sure most gamers out there do. To believe that you could be exactly like these people, indeed to want to be exactly like these people, is clearly delusional behaviour. But at least they usually have some admirable personality traits, be it confidence, determination, etc... Original Lara was no different. Her body shape was literally impossible to achieve, but at least she wasn't just a pair of breasts bouncing above a hot-pants clad arse.

To aspire to be new Lara would be the pinnacle of insanity. Here is a young woman who is portrayed as being totally helpless and vulnerable. Yes, she learns to fend for herself. Yes, by the end of the game we can assume she'll be strong and independent with a badass attitude. But what does it take for her to achieve this? This wilting violet of a girl has to be subjected to more hideous torture and brutality than any of us are ever likely to experience. The implication of this is that the only way for a woman to develop an attitude and be able to look after herself is for her to undergo unspeakable hardship. And of course to have the big male ego of the gamer caring for her at every step.

This is amusing to me. You consider the old Laura to be more realistic, when everything about her was exaggerated and the new Laura to be less realistic because she's like a normal person? What I'm even more surprised by is that you are so attached to the old Laura simply because she has an attitude? Do you have any idea how trite and played-out the "Hot woman with an attitude" character is? You are so offended by this idea of what you see as a Laura that needs a male gamer to look after her, but have no problem with marginalizing complaints of exploiting female sexuality by tacking on a cheap attitude to a character?

To address what I view as your chief complaint, which is new Laura not being a "badass," consider this: If you haven't figured it out, this new Tomb Raider is a type of "Hero's Journey" story. In these types of stories, the hero always starts out as a young and unskilled normal person who is forced on an adventure and over the course of the adventure, develops into the hero. That is exactly what this game is. You say that the new Laura isn't inspirational because at the start of the story she has no worthwhile qualities or that her worthwhile qualities will be a result of subjecting her to torture.

Let me pose this question: In what way is the new Laura's story different from Frodo's from Lord of the Rings? Besides her being a woman. Both start out their stories without any knowledge or skill. They're both thrust unwillingly into a dangerous situation. They both have to adventure and overcome extreme obstacles to survive. They both are subject to torture and beatings and violence. They both grow throughout their journey. At the end of both of their adventures they have become self-dependent and heroic.

There is absolutely no difference thematically and yet while people consider Frodo to be very heroic, you are dismissive and disdainful of Laura.

cynicalandbored:

The fact that this hardship has to be rape as opposed to anything else is truly despicable.

This is something that doesn't get talked about enough, so I'm going to separate it out, because it's very important and doesn't quite fit with the above discussion. Rape is something that is largely a uniquely female danger in our society (I know that it happens to men and children, but lets stay on topic here). It's difficult to discuss rape because of it's taboo nature and worrying about offending others or hurting women who have been raped. But at the same time, I think we hurt our society because we don't talk about rape. We are so afraid of talking about it that I think we marginalize it sometimes.

Now here is my problem. I believe that the way you are presenting this game, it almost sounds like you believe that the game will be Laura being tortured non-stop until someone attempts to rape her, in which case she will suddenly be transformed and finally fight back. I don't really see that as being the case from what I have seen of the game. Now, I'm sure there is likely going to be some sort of scene where Laura manages to kill her attacker, and it may even be the first person she kills, but I do not believe that they are going to use the attempted rape in the game as some sort of transitive moment for her. I think there is importance in covering this topic. Like I said, I'm male and well, quite frankly I don't ever really worry about being raped. It's just not something that realistically is going to happen to me. But if I was female, it's an entirely different story. That's something that's very scary to think about: that simply by being a different gender, the odds of me being the victim of a crime go up astronomically.

I will have to see how this is done inevitably, but I have hope that the subject matter will be presented tastefully (because if it isn't there will be hell to pay for the developers in the news media).

cynicalandbored:

Why couldn't we have a Lara we could try to identify with? I see no fundamental difference between one that men only play because they want to ogle her tits and one men only want to play because they feel the need to take care of the poor little girl. Both models of femininity are equally sexist in my opinion. And rape, seriously?

Am I just overreacting? Or is it a valid point? What do you all think?

I think you are seriously overreacting for the reasons described. This isn't some sort of "White Knight" simulator. The developers are using an INCREDIBLY old story formula that starts out with a weak protagonist developing into a strong hero. Laura isn't being portrayed as some weak little girl you need to take care of because all women are weak and need to be taken care of. She's being portrayed as weak because at the start she IS weak and the plot demands that she BE weak at the beginning so you can see how strong she becomes at the end.

I'm going to do something totally shocking, and buy the game, try it, and then decide if it was a poor attempt at implementing drama in a game or a good story telling aspect that allowed me to connect with the character.

Is that so difficult?

My 2 cents.

They are de-sexualizing her. Which is good for all gamers, guys and gals. Well, at least for our image.

The whole "vulnerable" thing is clearly seen in the demo. She's a newbie, maybe with some training but no experience. She's lost, and facing a big challenge. In the demo there's many scenes where she is at the mercy of the enemies (or so it seems). I think if you identify with her (or like her, anyway) at the start, then naturally you're going to try to "protect" her. I don't think it's anything about her being "just a weak woman". In fact, I'm quite sure that by the end of the game she will be kicking serious ass.

I think, well, I hope, that it's just showing us character development. Losing her innocence, and becoming the fearless Tomb Raider. Which is really a good thing. How many games have you played where you start out weak - and I don't just mean "my weapons suck"? I mean really vulnerable like in Amnesia.

Basically, I like the concept. The problem I see is that she's a she and people get all upset about sexism whenever they can. Quite honestly, I'd love to play, say, an Uncharted prequel where Drake is an 18 year old meat head and gets himself into a whole lot of trouble, barely surviving, and in turn maturing and becoming who he is in the first 3 games. Sure, he's still a cocky prick, but maybe that machoism is just covering up his fears?

Wolfram23:
Quite honestly, I'd love to play, say, an Uncharted prequel where Drake is an 18 year old meat head and gets himself into a whole lot of trouble, barely surviving, and in turn maturing and becoming who he is in the first 3 games. Sure, he's still a cocky prick, but maybe that machoism is just covering up his fears?

You may well know this already, but that's actually quite close to what happens in Uncharted 3

There's a sequence near the beginning where you play Drake as a 15 year old. He bites off more than he can chew and nearly gets killed before Sully turns up and shoots his attacker.

I don't remember anyone getting upset over it, although, granted, it didn't have the whole rape thing going on.

It also hints that the cocky behaviour is something of a facade.

Hero in a half shell:
I don't want to see Lara Croft nearly raped. I don't want to play a survival horror where she gets beat up and broken. I want a strong female protagonist that is self sufficient, I want her to be defined by her heroic actions, her strong will to do whatever is necessary, and her strength to take on whatever comes at her. I want to face off against Krakens, Egyptian Gods, ninjas and mummies, not watch her get tied up and beaten by bandits. As someone else pointed out this is very much 'Josh Whedon' feminism, and that sickens me.

Is this what we've come to, though? All female protagonists must be supremely confident, invulnerable Mary Sues, or we're going to take to the streets with flaming brands held aloft and cries of "sexism" ringing from our lips? Can we NOT have flawed or vulnerable or idiotic female characters? I understand the issues re: the portrayal of women in this medium and I'm not unsympathetic, but hearing shit like this makes my back ache.

ravenshrike:

Kahunaburger:

Zhukov:

Would people be getting upset if it was a guy?

Uh, if the latest Duke Nukem game revealed that a near-rape experience was why the Duke became who he is, you'd be able to hear the jimmies rustling from miles away.

It's highly unlikely that the near-rape experience would turn wilting violet LC into badass LC. In fact, after the near-rape experience, which probably happens within the first 20-30 minutes of gameplay, she's still weak and freaking out. It's the rest of the panic-stricken adventure and her survival which will turn her into the badass.

As for the previous series(it's a REBOOT) that doesn't really matter.

The dev quoted above appears to have a different view.

Elamdri:

No, it doesn't say that having large breasts makes a woman less human. It is saying that the old Laura was a sexualized caricature; NOT a person. She was sexualized to point where you could not believe she was a person because no real person looked the way she did. She did not feel human because no human being looks the way she looked. There was absolutely nothing "sexually empowering" about the original Laura. Now she looks like a person rather than a doll.

Well, I'm sure the new Lara does look more accurately like a person, if I could actually see her under the muck, bruises, burns, blood and bandages. She has just become exploited in a different way, from superdeveloped prim Barbie body to damsel in distress broken woman who needs a man to take care of her. The sexualisation of her character is still there, it has just changed to this masochistic gorn fantasy.

Elamdri:

As for the "Protecting her" thing, I'm sure I'm going to be addressing this a lot, but the main point is this. This Laura Croft is not the Laura Croft from the rest of the games. She is not a "hero" at the start of the game. She's a young adult who from what can be surmised by the trailers is not at the start of the game particularly skilled in any of the endeavors she is undertaking. She's just a normal person thrust into a extraordinary situation. In that context, wanting to "Protect your character" makes SENSE, because the character is incapable of mounting a serious offense. What is important here is that this is a gender neutral concept. I'm male, but if you stuck me in a scenario like this, I would need just as much "protection" because I have no survival skills or combat skills myself and would just as easily die as this game's Laura.

You are right, this is esentially Lara's crucible, where she becomes the self sufficient explorer we see in the earlier games, so having her suffer and learn new skills is an important part of the process. What isn't alright is the sheer level of violence against Lara with which they have chosen to approach this. It is constantly bringing down gratuitous threats, her suffering is focused on and revelled in with unneccesarily precise detail that borders on fetish material. The original lore of Tomb Raider states that she was in a plane with her fiancee, and it crashed in the mountains, everyone else died in the crash and she had to survive for a few weeks before the rescue team arrived. That gave her the taste for adventure. If they want to explore her character and vulnerability that would be enough of a plot to do it in, one that focuses on survival, and as the game progresses Lara learns more and more skills, faces bigger and bigger challenges and builds herself up. That is what they want to achieve, but they are doing it in a way that she suffers throughout, just constantly getting hurt by everything in the environment, being victimised and systematically destroyed. That is not how you build a strong character. The experience of having to fight off rapists does not make you want to spend your life running around tombs filled with rapey bandits.

Elamdri:

To address what I view as your chief complaint, which is new Laura not being a "badass," consider this: If you haven't figured it out, this new Tomb Raider is a type of "Hero's Journey" story. In these types of stories, the hero always starts out as a young and unskilled normal person who is forced on an adventure and over the course of the adventure, develops into the hero. That is exactly what this game is. You say that the new Laura isn't inspirational because at the start of the story she has no worthwhile qualities or that her worthwhile qualities will be a result of subjecting her to torture.

Why should her worthwhile qualities be as a result of having being tortured? Can a woman not have a strong personality, and be self-sufficient unless she's been through a plane crash, abducted by cannibals, watched her friends massacred, and had to fight her way out of a rape situation?
This is my point: There are far better ways to create a prequel to Tomb Raider that shows Lara gaining her independence and skills than an extended torture scenario.

Elamdri:

Let me pose this question: In what way is the new Laura's story different from Frodo's from Lord of the Rings? Besides her being a woman. Both start out their stories without any knowledge or skill. They're both thrust unwillingly into a dangerous situation. They both have to adventure and overcome extreme obstacles to survive. They both are subject to torture and beatings and violence. They both grow throughout their journey. At the end of both of their adventures they have become self-dependent and heroic.

There is absolutely no difference thematically and yet while people consider Frodo to be very heroic, you are dismissive and disdainful of Laura.

Because Frodo doesn't spend the whole time suffering. Frodo grows through his friendship with Samwise, through his mercy to Smeagol, through his experiences seeing the Elves in Rivendell and Lothlorien. Suffering plays a small part in Frodos character development, and it plays a small part in most "Hero's Journeys", as the most important part of the heros journey is not their outer experiences, but their inner realisation that they have to step up and be responsible.
Luke Skywalker is a boy turning into a man, with no purpose in life but working on his Uncles farm. He grows through being taught the knowledge of the Force and takes responsibility by joining the Rebels, assaulting the Death Star, and winning through the Force and Han Solo's friendship.
You can see it in the Matrix, where Neo is a man, with no purpose in life, who gets thrown into a fantasy where he is the chosen one, but he must believe in himself before he can actually help anyone else, and it takes the sacrifice of a friend to convince him to rise to the mark and take responsibility, where he saves his friend, and then through the power of love Trinity convinces him that he is the chosen one, and he finds his new responsibility.
The important themes of the heroes journey are someone without a purpose finding friendship, and taking responsibility for their life. Violence is not necessary.

Elamdri:

cynicalandbored:

The fact that this hardship has to be rape as opposed to anything else is truly despicable.

This is something that doesn't get talked about enough, so I'm going to separate it out, because it's very important and doesn't quite fit with the above discussion. Rape is something that is largely a uniquely female danger in our society (I know that it happens to men and children, but lets stay on topic here). It's difficult to discuss rape because of it's taboo nature and worrying about offending others or hurting women who have been raped. But at the same time, I think we hurt our society because we don't talk about rape. We are so afraid of talking about it that I think we marginalize it sometimes.

Now here is my problem. I believe that the way you are presenting this game, it almost sounds like you believe that the game will be Laura being tortured non-stop until someone attempts to rape her, in which case she will suddenly be transformed and finally fight back. I don't really see that as being the case from what I have seen of the game. Now, I'm sure there is likely going to be some sort of scene where Laura manages to kill her attacker, and it may even be the first person she kills, but I do not believe that they are going to use the attempted rape in the game as some sort of transitive moment for her.

I will have to see how this is done inevitably, but I have hope that the subject matter will be presented tastefully (because if it isn't there will be hell to pay for the developers in the news media).

Ah, here is why our opinions differ so much, because this scenario you outlined is exactly what I think will happen in this game, it seems heavily implied by the trailer and from the developers choice of words:

In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She'll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her. "She is literally turned into a cornered animal," Rosenberg said. "It's a huge step in her evolution: she's forced to either fight back or die."

If this is what actually happens, then I see it as a really badly executed way of making the series grittier, and just as exploitative as the previous games, but in a different (more malicious) way. It could be possible that this isn't what will happen in the game, but to be honest the only way to know will be to see when the game comes out.

Elamdri:

I think you are seriously overreacting for the reasons described. This isn't some sort of "White Knight" simulator. The developers are using an INCREDIBLY old story formula that starts out with a weak protagonist developing into a strong hero. Laura isn't being portrayed as some weak little girl you need to take care of because all women are weak and need to be taken care of. She's being portrayed as weak because at the start she IS weak and the plot demands that she BE weak at the beginning so you can see how strong she becomes at the end.

I hope you're right, I hope it isn't just a disturbingly fetishised suffering simulator, but with only the trailer and the comments this developer gives right now I have to say that I think it will be a white knight simulator.

"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.'"

Something I wonder is did any of the previous Tomb Raider games sexualize Laura in game? Were male characters in the games eyeing her or was it just the audience? And even if there were male characters in game that did eye her, I don't think it was in a dangerous manner. I didn't have a problem with the way Laura looked because I don't remember it really being emphasized in the game (character model aside). As a female myself, I paid attention to her adventures and her character and never thought too hard about her being female. She was a badass like other male protagonists in other games. Over the top like the rest for better and worse.

What makes me uncomfortable with this reboot are two things. One thing is that, I could believe an inexperienced male adventurer as the protagonist at this game. But I would still squirm. I'm not sure if the game will be totally like what I saw, but in the game play demos I've seen, its like danger after danger after danger. Fight people with guns with a bow. Fall down rapids. Fall out a plane and struggle to open a parachute. Fall down a tree as a landing. I'd cringe if it was a guy too. If the game is predominantly that, even if it is a good game, I'm not sure if I could play with a level of uncomfortableness that won't take a break sometime. If that's not the case, then great.

The thing that the game seems to end up doing with the protagonist not only being female, but being named Laura Croft (even though shes obviously not the past version) is that it sexualizes her. In the article two things hit me, the fact that "When people play Lara, they don't really project themselves into the character," and "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.'" This could be due to the fact that males make up the majority of gamers and might have problems relating to female protagonists? Or at least that's what the developers thing.
And the second part of the quote triggers feelings within me that she needs protection because shes a woman in a dangerous situation. It brings up stereotypes, that may not even be the intention of the developers, but it unintentionally highlights the fact that she is a woman, something I did not pay much attention to in the previous incarnations. While there could be a guy on guy attempted rape if the protagonist was male, I think the chance of that being put in the game would be much less. A woman on guy even much more less. An attempted rape scene definitely makes me think of her more as a woman, despite her looking normal and realistic.

Don't be so cynical! (sry bad joke:P)

cynicalandbored:

To aspire to be new Lara would be the pinnacle of insanity. Here is a young woman who is portrayed as being totally helpless and vulnerable. Yes, she learns to fend for herself. Yes, by the end of the game we can assume she'll be strong and independent with a badass attitude. But what does it take for her to achieve this? This wilting violet of a girl has to be subjected to more hideous torture and brutality than any of us are ever likely to experience. The implication of this is that the only way for a woman to develop an attitude and be able to look after herself is for her to undergo unspeakable hardship.

Well, let me ask this: If you go through what "realistic" Lara (wich i actually find more attractive and sexy) will do, doesn't matter if your male or female, then you have two ways you'll end up!
Like 9/10, you would become paranoid, insane and maybe even take suicide or you'll be that 1/10 that Lara becomes and take what you have learned and make it a part of you. You'll still have scars but like all scar tissue it becomes stronger then before.

So Voilá! You have created what will be the original(Stonking great titties) Lara from the "realictic" Lara!

On the note of males wanting to protect Lara, its kind of hardwired in to most mens DNA since its mainly been mens "mission" (for lack of better word) to protect women and children for most of human history plus men are more physically violent by nature.
I do see your point though!

BloatedGuppy:

Hero in a half shell:
I don't want to see Lara Croft nearly raped. I don't want to play a survival horror where she gets beat up and broken. I want a strong female protagonist that is self sufficient, I want her to be defined by her heroic actions, her strong will to do whatever is necessary, and her strength to take on whatever comes at her. I want to face off against Krakens, Egyptian Gods, ninjas and mummies, not watch her get tied up and beaten by bandits. As someone else pointed out this is very much 'Josh Whedon' feminism, and that sickens me.

Is this what we've come to, though? All female protagonists must be supremely confident, invulnerable Mary Sues, or we're going to take to the streets with flaming brands held aloft and cries of "sexism" ringing from our lips? Can we NOT have flawed or vulnerable or idiotic female characters? I understand the issues re: the portrayal of women in this medium and I'm not unsympathetic, but hearing shit like this makes my back ache.

I don't want Lara to be a perfect Mary-Sue. I don't mind if there are flawed, vulnerable, or idiotic female characters, but I do mind if previously strong characters are reduced to being put in a Saw-style gorn fanstasy, where she gets consistently physically and psychologically broken by everyone and everything around her, where her character is descibed as growing stronger through her experience of having to fight her way out of a rape attempt, where every bruise and bleed is focused on and relished in and the developer comes to an interview and says You'll be her protecter from the big bad environment.

The previous games were fairly dumb and brainless when it came to their storyline, you faced off against a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and had ninjas and stuff. There's nothing wrong with putting a gritty spin on this series (apart from alienating the fans) But to do it in such a way that you reduce the protagonist to a punching bag that the game relishes knocking about and hearing her squeals of pain is not the way to do it, and is not making the character deeper or more realistic.

Hero in a half shell:

I hope you're right, I hope it isn't just a disturbingly fetishised suffering simulator, but with only the trailer and the comments this developer gives right now I have to say that I think it will be a white knight simulator.

"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.'"

+1. Based on the developer comments, it looks like the best-case-scenario for this game is that they make a good story by accident. I mean, they're making the same basic error where Lara is an external pandering thing for the (presumed heterosexual male) gamer to react to, not a character for players of multiple genders to identify with. They've just switched the target of pandering from people who like to look at boobs to creepy "nice guys."

Hero in a half shell:
The previous games were fairly dumb and brainless when it came to their storyline, you faced off against a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and had ninjas and stuff. There's nothing wrong with putting a gritty spin on this series (apart from alienating the fans) But to do it in such a way that you reduce the protagonist to a punching bag that the game relishes knocking about and hearing her squeals of pain is not the way to do it, and is not making the character deeper or more realistic.

One of my favorite action films is Die Hard, specifically because the hero spends most of the film beat up and ragged, squealing in pain, bleeding all over the place from a half a hundred wounds, and exhausted. Because of this, he seems incredibly human and vulnerable, and it raises the stakes of the film and heightens my emotional attachment to the character. I understand your concern that they might be going for more of a pornographic vulnerability in this case because the protagonist is female, but without playing the game I'm not really ready to leap to that conclusion. I don't have an issue with her bleeding and hurt. I don't have an issue with her taking some lumps, either, as this being a video game (and her being the protagonist) she's obviously never going to be completely bereft of agency or the game would just stop.

I understand fear and concern that they're going to go for the sexy victim of violence angle, and that's a fair concern, but I don't want to end up in territory where a woman CAN'T squeal in pain, can't be a punching bag, can't get knocked about, because that's pretty much exactly what would happen to a character in those circumstances. And if I'm comfortable with a male character enduring that kind of treatment, I don't like the implications inherent in shying off exposing a female character to the same.

Kahunaburger:
That's the thing - based on the developer comments, it looks like the best-case-scenario for this game is that they make a good story by accident. I mean, they're making the same basic error where Lara is an external pandering thing for the (presumed heterosexual male) gamer to react to, not a character for players of multiple genders to identify with. They've just switched the target of pandering from people who like to look at boobs to creepy "nice guys."

For what it's worth, my girlfriend is the one who wants the game, I'm ambivalent towards it. She likes how beat up Lara looked, and thought it made her seem "more human".

I'd like to point out though that the article is a kotaku one and they are fairly well known for sensationalist articles and nerd baiting, it is litteraly how they make all their money. It wouldnt suprise me at all if either, A: half the quotes from the dev have been taken out of context or B: half the quotes from the dev are actualy missing larger more explantory details.

I for one am actualy looking forward to this new approach for tomb raider because honestly, the old games are so basicly identicle but for the minor upgrades to the graphics and gameplay in each one that its just become so stale and boring, this is a chance to experiance a tomb raider game like never before and most of the comments i see are people bitching that its not like that last eight or nine or however many there have been, makes me kinda anoyed i guess that alot of people are basicly slating this thing when its not even out yet. When it goes on sale and if its absolutly terrible feel free to hate it all you like, but atleast wait untill you can even try it before complaining.

RPS seems fairly positive about it:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/06/12/the-two-deaths-that-defined-tomb-raider/#more-111538

I think I'll wait to see what it's like before weighing in based solely on Kotaku's desire for page hits.

This reaction to the Tomb Raider E3 showing hasn't been all too uncommon, and has been discussed already in previous threads here.

A number of people (myself included) were apprehensive about the direction after picking up something of a ryona vibe from the trailer. I'd like to think it's an unfortunate mis-interpretation. The trailer itself was put together in an exploitative way; it's a fair point to argue that. The predominant running theme of the trailer appears to be women under some kind of pain, distress, discomfort or peril.

The game itself isn't going to be cutting quickly from a girl with a knife to her throat, to another being bear-trapped; then from an uncomfortable space intrusion, to the middle of a frantic struggle, to the horrified blood-soaked aftermath. Each event is going to have time to develope, unfold and wind down; and just because in a 3 minute trailer we see little besides those things, it's not necessarily right to expect the entire game to be little beyond lots and lots of that.

I think this reaction (especially the comments on the Kotaku artile) has been a little OTT (I admit my initial one was a bit aswell). I think you should wait to give it a fair hearing. Will it turn out to be sexist? I don't think so. Exploitative? potentially. On the other hand, it may turn out well; which is what I'd like to hope for. I think you should hold out and examine the actual game fairly before you go punching any babies about it.

Also, portraying a good female character (eg The Boss, as mentioned earlier) doesn't hinge on it crying out "I DON'T NEED NO FUKKIN MAN!" as a necessity. I would not expect something of that sort from this game either way.

i think your over-thinking this. i actually think what they're doing with the character is a good thing. they are making her more human and not just by changing body size, but in almost every other way. (from what i've seen from videos) it defiantly does seem like it's going to be a more personal experience than before, since this time it's like throwing a random girl into the wilderness and forcing them to do horrible things to survive, while in previous games she had no problem doing anything, shoot somebody in the head and don't even ask the question.

as for the game itself, i'll consider getting it but i never buy a game on Day 1. i don't have the money for it, so i'll wait for reviews and what people say about it and hopefully grab it on sale if it looks like it's something i would enjoy. so just give the game itself a chance before you cast it off for such trivial reasons.

EDIT: one more thing, i notice a bit of contradiction here. You say "do women have to be put through harsh experiences such as in this game to be able to take care of them self?" well this isn't about taking care of one's self, this is about surviving in conditions that most people, ordinary people NEVER have to do. this is more than her learning to bake a f***ing cake, this is her learning how to survive against a cruel wild world. so yes, she is going to start off weak and this game is all about her rising to become a strong hero. thus a stronger experience and connection in the game. i actually really like this concept. however like i said, none of this makes and difference to how the game is going to play, that i'm still wondering. it looks like it's going to take a more action-style of play as opposed to the exploration/platform based gameplay. if platforming is taken out i would be very disappointed.

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