Raping Female Characters Is Not Sexist

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Bad guys threaten to do bad things.

Clearly not acceptable in our video games.

idarkphoenixi:
I'm suprised nobodies mad about the rape thing for the same reasons as me. I don't really care if they put it into a game as a story element but what bothers me is the fact that they are advertising the rape. They're using rape as a way to stir up useless controversy about their game.

And that is unacceptable.

I get the same sentiment every time CoD released their "gritty rated M level" info. They're not using it as a dramatic point in the game. It would have greater effect if it was never discussed with the public before release. But they release it. "There's no such thing as bad press" is the biggest reason video games, and gamers as a whole, are looked on as less mature.
We're inherently sold the ultraviolence up front, everything else later. We don't make mature games to send out a narrative. (and let's face it, the ones that do have their own issues. I'm looking at you MGS4, no, it's okay, I love you baby.)
We make rated M games to sell blood and tits, and then gamers get to say, "See? I'm an adult, I can buy a game with blood and boobs." And yet completely missing the point that maturity doesn't need to be proven, any notion otherwise is proving immaturity.

Do I care that there's an attempted rape sequence? Yeah. I'm for it. I've been waiting a long time for us to see strong female leads being vulnerable in video games, in real situations. Not just the crap where the bad guy grabs her by the bicep and suddenly she loses all her power.
Then again I'm still waiting to see a strong male lead being vulnerable in a video game. (Please go away MGS, I need some time to think. YOU'RE SUFFOCATING ME! I didn't mean it!)
Is a rape scenario a way to go? Maybe yes, maybe no. But with the tone this game is taking over the previous installments, we're no longer in Indiana Jones flights of fancy.
We're playing in the real world. And this, as horrible an event as it could be, could add some extreme reality and writing know how to the game.

Was it needed? Probably not. But what WAS needed was for these assholes to keep their damn mouths shut. They forgot the cardinal rule: "Show, don't tell". Now they just look like kids trying to show their parents they can be taken seriously because they wrote morbid poetry...

Uriel-238:
Lara is a classically educated, privileged, athletically trained adventurer. She's used to the hazards of the bush. She's educated regarding the territories she travels (though, actually she's an antiquarian hobbyist rather than an academist). Lara has the practiced and drilled cool of a SEAL bomb-disposal expert. She doesn't do "trapped animal." She can handle herself against natural predators far bigger, stronger and more agile than human men.

Rape generally turns one crazy, man or woman. It's the kind of personal event that shapes everything that follows for the character. And through her many adventures, Lara isn't plagued by those kinds of personal demons. Granted, the new design team can change this. They could make a darker edgier adventure girl and name her Lara Croft, but I think such a character would no longer be relatable to the Tomb Raider paradigm, not as its fans know it.

I thought this was already well-established. I knew this was a giant ret-con from day one. They've never said otherwise.

They're trying something completely new, seeing how the current Tomb Raider series is kind of dead.

Let me elaborate.

Tomb Raiders 1, 2, 3: Each game has an entirely self-contained story, but you start to wonder what the point of it all is. In one, she puts together (and destroys) an artifact that unlocks the secrets of Atlantis, but leaves it all behind because it's too dangerous. In two, she tracks down a dagger that makes people become dragons. In three, she stops a horrific turn in "evolution" by collecting and recollecting four artifacts. None of these really tie together.

In 4, 5, and 6, they finally cobbled a story of sorts together, actually giving the player a real reason to buy the next game beyond "it's prettier than the last one", but it went bad... REALLY bad.

7, 8(?), 9: Crystal Dynamics adds a new dimension to the character and starts a different, less horrible storyline, but many players dislike the admittedly lukewarm quality of gameplay and story.

The spinoff game (The Guardian of Light): It's entirely self-contained, and highly acclaimed, but it doesn't sell very well last I checked.

The series is now stagnant, partly because it's so bloody hard to write a decent story for what's essentially a Mary Sue.

Tomb Raider 10: A REAL reboot, complete with new character (same name, but not the same girl), new backstory, new tone and feel, the works. We'll have to see how it turns out, but I'm not expecting another expected entry into the floundering current canon, and I'm OK with that.

idarkphoenixi:
I'm suprised nobodies mad about the rape thing for the same reasons as me. I don't really care if they put it into a game as a story element but what bothers me is the fact that they are advertising the rape. They're using rape as a way to stir up useless controversy about their game.

And that is unacceptable.

They're not.

They had the whole "rape sequence" in the trailer, and no one noticed. Because it wasn't meant to stir up anything. Touching a thigh is not an edgy rape sequence.

And then the representative mentioned it, because it was right there and he thought everyone saw and had comprehended the trailer.

He was wrong.

When he mentioned the "attempt to rape", I had thought "Oh yeah, I saw that in the trailer". I was more worried about other comments. Everyone else collectively freaked out.

lacktheknack:

They're not.

They had the whole "rape sequence" in the trailer, and no one noticed. Because it wasn't meant to stir up anything. Touching a thigh is not an edgy rape sequence.

And then the representative mentioned it, because it was right there and he thought everyone saw and had comprehended the trailer.

He was wrong.

When he mentioned the "attempt to rape", I had thought "Oh yeah, I saw that in the trailer". I was more worried about other comments. Everyone else collectively freaked out.

Exactly this. They're not advertising this at all, nor is it even the central focus of the scene. The media has blown this way out of proportion. The funny thing is, the leaked footage from E3 actually shows that scene in its entirety, and if everyone saw it they'd agree it's no big deal or a central focus of the games writing. If only they would show it so everyone would calm down.

BloatedGuppy:
1. Lara wasn't BORN a classically educated, athletically trained adventurer, was she? Surely at some point along the way she BECAME that? I think the game is trying to portray an origin story. I don't find characters who are as effortlessly competent and unassailable as you suggest particularly easy to relate to, on any level. They can be momentarily entertaining in a "whee, I'm such a badass" sense, but they're not very compelling.

Ah, but an origin story, while explaining particular traits of a character can inadvertently raise questions about traits that are absent. For example, I think that by dropping an unprepared girl into the bush where she suffers hardship after hardship, escaping not only the hazards of the wilds but of lawless mercenaries and dangerous aboriginals and is reduced to a cornered animal, you're not going to end up with someone who wittingly goes on adventures for the sport of it and, well, raids tombs.

After that kind of ass-kicking (whether or not she emerges victorious) you're going to end up with someone who's content to limit her adventuring to the stacks and the archives. That is unless the story somehow demonstrates some other reason why this person will be perpetually compelled by the call to adventure in the outback.

Incidentally, this also is not about sex. Men and women alike like their toilet paper, clean laundry, central air conditioning and internet access. Myself, the mosquitoes, poison oak and rattlesnakes are enough to keep me from Angeles Crest and the Sequoias, so I assume Lara gets a serious high from ancient ruins and lost cities to be driven to wander out there in search of such places.

2. As I'm sure you have, I've known women who have been raped, and rape does not "generally turn one crazy". I know a few women in particular who would be deeply offended and extremely angry at the suggestion that the trauma they suffered somehow broke them, or that it shaped everything about their life to follow. I don't have an issue with your rape/torture metaphor and I'll readily agree it's not a subject I think the industry is ready to tackle with grace and subtlety, but a blanket statement that victims of rape or near rape are generally crazy is a little off the reservation.

I'll admit that I'm a bit fast and lose with the term crazy, the way that the LGBT community is with queer, but that's because as one who struggles with major depression, I'm inclined to encourage folks to recognize that mental illness does not equate to axe-murder compulsions or countdowns to a killing spree. I call myself crazy even though I'm relatively high-functioning, and by the same standard can say that yes, violent rape, like a lot of trauma, tends to lead to PTSD and parallel pathologies, which are definitely with in the realm of crazy like me. Is this the case always? Not necessarily: there is a wide range of incidents and circumstances within the realm of sexual assault, and a wider range of reactions to such violation. But the trend in the media (outside of topical films about trauma recovery) has been to make light of sexual assault (or most traumatic events, actually, to play it for laughs, to make the victims disposable, to justify that it's okay because she asked for it or she enjoyed it or for someone to just shrug it off like a hero shrugs bullet wounds.

And this reboot is looking like exactly that. A young girl-to-become-the-Tomb-Raider is going to go through a lot of grief and will, at the end, shrug it off like a roller coaster ride and decide let's do that again!

3. The "Tomb Raider paradigm" was a dull, relentless action serial about an affluent adventurer with short shorts and a comically over sized and strangely conical bosom. It was always breathlessly stupid, and rode the thin edge of insulting more than once. I'm not sure I'm prepared to cry hot tears at the thought of it being changed into something its dwindling fan base can no longer relate to.

Then I wonder why cling to the IP? Ah right, because it's financially safer to exploit franchises already in place, and to shoehorn them in when they don't fit, than to risk investment in something newer and creative. The gaming sector could certainly use to have more solid female characters than fewer, especially to offset the ones that are used as examples of how games are sexist or stereotyped.

I'm not going to get into the history of Lara's appearance, which was defined more by technical constraints than artistic choices, unless I have to, since Lara is generally regarded as a feminist-positive character despite her improbable build, fashion and fanbase demographic. But if need be, I can offer an explanation. Again a reason for a new IP than the reboot of an old one.

But if we're really looking to make a more realistic Lara Croft, there are ways to go about it. And Rosenburg's description doesn't sound like it. It's not Lara becoming a cornered animal that the player must protect. It's hardship and adversary and Lara discovering I am stronger than I thought I was. That involves room to breathe. That involves a chance now and again to notice Crap, I just escaped an airplane crash... I just fought off a fucking tiger... I figured out how to sustain myself in this jungle...Holy shit, I like sustaining myself in this jungle.[1]

Of course, this raises the question of why would you care? If you are so offended by the Tomb Raider paradigm, I can't imagine that you are so starved for platformers that you'd bother worrying about a reboot of this particular franchise until it was solidified long after release that it was any good.

238U[2]

[1] This actually raises a potential game design idea in which one learns to survive the jungle and then search for and find lost cities and loot them for fabulous treasures. A different approach to Tomb Raider, and not necessarily appropriate to the franchise, but if well done the kind of game I'd want to play.
[2] Sadly, I am suddenly mid-project and behind deadline, so my ability to respond in this thread will be limited.

It's not exactly sexist, but it does seem lazy and unoriginal. It seems that these days media feels that to appeal to the feminist crowd they must include a rape scene in every piece of work where the main character is female so she can look like a strong person for having overcome it.

It's becoming dangerously cliche imo.

idarkphoenixi:
I'm suprised nobodies mad about the rape thing for the same reasons as me. I don't really care if they put it into a game as a story element but what bothers me is the fact that they are advertising the rape. They're using rape as a way to stir up useless controversy about their game.

And that is unacceptable.

I doubt causing controversy was their intention. I imagine they're surprised by the controversy it's getting in the first place. Viewing the trailer, more emphasis seems to be placed one "Lara Croft shoots a guy! She's covered in blood! Check out those high def textures!" then "Lara Croft almost gets raped!"

idarkphoenixi:
I'm suprised nobodies mad about the rape thing for the same reasons as me. I don't really care if they put it into a game as a story element but what bothers me is the fact that they are advertising the rape. They're using rape as a way to stir up useless controversy about their game.

And that is unacceptable.

They are not stiring up controversy KOTAKU! took his quotes out of context and made it look like that.

DarkRyter:

idarkphoenixi:
I'm suprised nobodies mad about the rape thing for the same reasons as me. I don't really care if they put it into a game as a story element but what bothers me is the fact that they are advertising the rape. They're using rape as a way to stir up useless controversy about their game.

And that is unacceptable.

I doubt causing controversy was their intention. I imagine they're surprised by the controversy it's getting in the first place. Viewing the trailer, more emphasis seems to be placed one "Lara Croft shoots a guy! She's covered in blood! Check out those high def textures!" then "Lara Croft almost gets raped!"

Then you sir do not understand this industry.

Controversy is by FAR the best way to promote any game, because it means non-gamers know of it. Remember how much controversy (and how many more sales) that GTA got back in the day ? A whole lot. It wasn't even really a good game. It was fun because you could run down school children in a police car. And that caused some comment. It also had a boss soundtrack.

Anyway, if you want your 'meh' quality game to become huge, controversy is a game designers best friend. It doesn't matter what's in the trailer, people who write the real news pay attention to people who pay attention to the gaming press. One article on the front page of Wired or Gizmodo, and I guarantee that this shit turns into a straight up moral panic.

While you could be forgiven for thinking that everything has been done, thats mainly because no-ones looking hard at those rape-themed japanese games (probably wisely). Something hasn't been done until someone from the game company has to defend their choices on the news.

On another topic, I am accepting art submissions and developer CVs for my '120 days of sodom' game, on the grounds that I would rather drink peoples money than lara croft.

If the game is aiming for a darker grittier telling of Lara's story where the events in this game have long time repercussions in sequels I'm all for it, after all how many films, books and hell, even songs, talk about rape and it's effects?

I do agree using it as marketing however, is not only an INCREDIBLY poor choice, it's also desensitising us to when it happens in game, lets be honest if it was left as a surprise and even more happened in gameplay not a cutscene, I think it would have been a shocking, frightening and even downright disturbing scene, it would have been for me at least, a put the controller down, walk away and get some air moment. Which I would like to think is what the developer was aiming for, until the publisher opened it's big, fat mouth.

This has gone from finding an incredibly disturbing piece of art which would hopefully speak to the male gamer psyche and change our views on women involved in the hobby as being as fragile and human as we no doubt felt in our high school years and be a step towards ending misogyny in the gamer society... and is now going to marked forever as a major faux pas in the history of our hobby.

Saddle up people, between this and Hitman it seems Eidos is determined to give us another Doom controversy, only this time with higher stakes.

SpectacularWebHead:
But with female characters, the usual default for shocking is rape.

Wait what? Are we still on games here? Its so rare to see any reference to rape in games i'd be surprised if its the goto thing. We're all still hung up on the family tragedy or killed lover trope.

For the OP: I'm all for it. I want to see if they write it properly. So the designer wants you to feel protective, I see nothing wrong with that. If he can actual get the feeling from players why not? It would be impressive if he could. I probably won't get the feeling but good on him for actually trying a different approach.

LostAlone:

Then you sir do not understand this industry.

Controversy is by FAR the best way to promote any game, because it means non-gamers know of it. Remember how much controversy (and how many more sales) that GTA got back in the day ? A whole lot. It wasn't even really a good game. It was fun because you could run down school children in a police car. And that caused some comment. It also had a boss soundtrack.
.

Children have never been in GTA games. The height of GTA controversy came entirely independent of the developer's intentions, when a dummied out part of the game was unlocked by a user modification.

When you see the Tomb Raider trailer in question, there is little to find controversial about it. The most graphic scenes are fairly mundane by the standards of today's media, and even the unwarrantedly controversial rape scene is no different than similar in movies.

When you look at the more controversial games in the past few years, you'll see that the developers and publishers never INTEND for the controversy to happen. No one expected Mass Effect's sex scenes to make any kind of news. No one even knew about "No Russian" until the game came out, because they never even advertised it (not like they needed to).

Unless you're EA.

So, what has been is this: Lots of people don't like realism in video games.

I don't know if the OP has realised this but the new Tomb Raider game is a REBOOT, which means that you can forget about the old Lara Croft character.

Clearly, the developers are trying to go for the darker and edgier Batman Begins route with the game. In the old Tomb Raider games Lara Croft was an invincible action girl, highly comparable to James Bond. Now this new Tomb Raider is obviously the Casino Royale of the series.

It seems to me that people are just squirming that the devs decided to include something in the game which is just too realistic for them and uncommon in video games.

As for this nonsense about it being sexist, here's a fact: unfortunately some women get raped and sexually assaulted. Now imagine this situation: A lone, seemingly defenceless woman ends up on an island with a bunch of amoral, evil, selfish male pirates/bandits. What do you think would happen...?

As for the nonsense about "wanting to protect a female character is sexist" Why? Just because the character is female? Surely the natural reaction to seeing anyone in a dangerous situation is a desire to protect them. It's just that in video games, where you can respawn/reload/regen health the danger disappears. (Contrast with Diablo 3 hardcore mode! :D) So, if you're the writer and you want the player to feel that feeling again, you take your character and put them in a horrible, realistic situation that would be disturbing in real life.

For example, no one would have said a word if we had seen Lara fighting against some cosmic deity, even if, in-universe, she would die. Why? Because it's a unrealistic, over the top cosmic deity. Now on the other hand, if you replace that with an actual threat i.e. randy pirates then the player will think "OMG! This is serious!!" because it's something that could play out in real life.

If you're a writer/dev and you make the player feel this then it is an achievement because the player will start to become genuinely emotionally attached to the character (compare with Bioware's writing of the Mass Effect characters and how specifically they were put in arguably worse danger at the end of ME2) and then will empathise with the character.

So, it is not sexist to make a point of advertising this because the advertising of that scene has nothing to do with the character's gender - it is being advertised so that the audience knows that in this game the devs/writers are trying to make you invest emotionally in the character and so are preparing you for that experience.

So is it sexist to use rape to make you feel for the character? No, it might be cliche but it isn't sexist because that would imply that only women were raped which is of course nonsense.
So why are they having the attempted rape happen with the woman then, I hear you ask, well obviously in this series the character the writers want you to care about happens to be a woman ;)

EDIT: Remembered another point I wanted to make: I think that the writers have included the rape attempt because Lara Croft used to be seen as a sex symbol i.e was objectified but this was seen as positive SO by showing her character being sexualised as negative they are saying: "Hey Lara Croft is now a person not a sex object" which will also be why they advertised it.

The only people who see it as torture porn or some such crap are the ones who have mistakenly assumed Lara is still a sex symbol.

I think my problem with it will come if it's an "event" where you as the player have to "save her." Because if we the player have to do a quick time event or something, that would imply we can fail to save her. That would shift the blame to us, we just got Lara raped, confuckingratulations, you horrible horrible person.

It's a weak and not well thought out device used to advance the story. I don't want rape to be used in anything, Rape is a horrible thing, it does not need to be part of any stories. I am fine with near death, if you fail some people die, but I am NOT ok with if I fail, someone gets raped. At least with failing someone dies, the person is dead, and thus no longer has to live with what was done to them. Rape sticks with someone, for the rest of their life.

Really good phrasing OP and some great points there.

I agree with the "consequences need to be shown" but this can laden a game a an "issue" game which is probably why most games obfuscate rape. What creeps me out about the trailer is the titillation it seems meant to provoke.

Rape shouldn't be a marketing tool.

should there be a spoiler warning on the thread???? i suppose if this is blowing up big it would be to hard to avoid.

I think what people are misunderstanding are what the scene actually means. Which they have explained. Sure it's Laura with a thug who starts getting touchy touchy and which heavily implies he is most likely going to rape her. But the attempted rape is just the spark that starts out the scene, the motivation for the bandit to apprehend Laura, and she is forced to kill a human for the first time in her life. The rape is irrelevant here, it's the killing of a human that matters.. Which has flown right through peoples skulls because they seem to not give a shit about people getting killed in games anymore.

Also on another note as some seem to be forgetting that this isn't the Laura we know from the previous games, this is BEFORE she became the gunslinging adventurer. The trailer actually says it if you listened properly. And she looks very younger than usual.

Though to talk about the topic of rape is lazy writting. I have a few words someone once told about it ''Rape is only lazy writing if it's about a raped character and not about a character who gets raped''

you raised some good points, sexual assault and rape (or the attempt thereof) are not sexist, they are a tragic reality, and statistically, women are actually more likely to be raped by someone they know, rather than by strangers.

Male rape is also not treated with the respect and seriousness that it should be, one thing that doesn't help with all of the stigma surrounding rape, is that victims have a tendency to be ostracised by the community (especially in rural or smaller communities, where people are more likely to know both the victim and the offender) as well as the feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability, and this leads to drastic levels of underreporting. The lack of support services also does not help the victims, especially males who have suffered from sexual assault. The psychological effects of sexual assault are huge and the effects last.

Yes, alluding to rape in games is toeing a moral line, but i personally don't think it crosses it, there are several factors in the game that have to be taken into account, the ones that attacked Lara have likely not seen a woman in years and would have socially and morally regressed (think Lord Of The Flies). Though the scene itself largely seems to be more about Lara having to kill another human being for the first time, violence has become so mainstream in games it's now largely overlooked in comparison to attempted rape, which is hardly ever seen.

The fact that the attempted rape scene has been pushed into the limelight to stir up controversy is a little unsettling, though i wouldn't call it sexist.

Before you ask how I know all this, I studied this (among other subjects) during my Criminology degree.

While I won't agree that rape is carte blanche a bad storytelling mechanic, I think it is true that in American culture (as that's the one I can best comment on), rape and torture are frequently just used to score sympathy points. This is a culture where women are often anxious to terrified of being out alone at night for fear of assault, or even in their own homes alone. Rape or near-rape is an assault that the story needs to revolve around, in my opinion, given it's weight and the pervasiveness of the fear of such assault.

To just have Lara almost get raped because "Oh snaps, it's dangerous and gritty," is as trite as it is damaging. It devalues the horror and damage of the attack and devalues women's fears of it. It basically makes rape a much less serious thing than normal, especially since they're using it for advertising and Lara will probably be like "Phew," then get over it.

Sick of it.

Listen feminist we are so sorry its easier to rape women than men. That the most demeaning thing a woman can suffer is to be raped and it makes for a great story arc considering the character is question is one of the most bad ass female characters in history.

Croft the bad ass I can take care of myself gets raped. Her strong female role is shattered. It makes for a great story. Now if you played a male and went around raping women I can see that as something to get pissed about, but its not.

Get over yourselves. You don't see my complaining about how my sex is slaughtered by the thousands in nearly every video game.

Matthew94:

Pearwood:
Add rape, instant drama. It's not sexist, it's just lazy, overdone and boring unless you're going to do it properly. And they won't do it properly because it's fucking Tomb Raider not an epic drama.

Rape is overdone? I seem to have missed that in gaming.

I forgot it was cliche to have a rape attempt in games. Oh those wacky developers!.

It is when you're attempting to make your game somewhat movie like. Even then, its obvious that rape is getting more and more airtime in modern video games compared to the last decade or so. I mean, within the last few years, we had Dead Island (In which a supporting character is insinuated to have been raped, though Techland handled that about as well as they did game, poorly and with bad dialogue), Heavy Rain (In which Madison Paige is nearly raped in almost EVERY FUCKING PLAYABLE PORTION OF HER STORYLINE IN THE GAME!...Oh, and she was nearly killed and turned into a mannequin by some dude with a fetish problem in the DLC.) Mafia II ( Vito was nearly raped in Prison), and I'm sure there are a couple of others that I failed to name, but those are just some brief examples off the top of my head. Point is, writers are abusing the idea of rape more and more and that's both good and bad.

Its good in the sense that writers are branching out and bringing up more and more serious topics like hardcore drug addiction, rape and genocidal violence, even if 75% of the very same writers include it and merely poke at the issue with a ten foot pole and don't really ever address it afterwards. Take Assassin's Creed for example, which has a character that was abducted by the Borgia and then raped in a Roman prison. When you play a level and rescue that character from the Roman prison, they just say "No, she wasn't raped."

Its also bad because it brings out some of the worst in our community and I'm referring mainly to the sexual deviants. You know the ones. The guys who go "I bet she secretly enjoys it" when they see Vette from Swotor being electrocuted with the shock collar. The ones who go "She probably had it coming" when they saw Lara about to be raped in the trailer. The ones who- you know what, you understand. Point is....well I don't really have a point, its just really fucking creepy.

I don't think depicting rape is sexist. It is not a female-only thing (it's becomming quite common now to hear stories of abused men, just watch a few episodes of Law and Order: SVU or think about the abused of catholic priests), it is another form of physical assault.

That said, depicting it is extremely tasteless!

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