So after today’s discussion which heavily discussed the sexualization of women and video game characters in general I was reminded of the outrage which arose a few years ago after the trailer for the newest Tomb Raider game premiered. The game endeavoured to introduce a far more realistic version of the character Lara Croft. She was intended to be physically more realistic, and to be a fully developed character with emotions, depth, and motivation in their actions. All these things seemed like fantastic changes to a series which is fairly well-known for it’s very sexualized portrayal of the protagonist.
The issues began to arise when the trailer, and some of the early gameplay footage showed what many critics of what was shown called “torture porn”. The new Lara Croft introduced for this reboot of the franchise was someone who was repeatedly severely injured, and forced to endure horrific events through the course of the trailers, and the critics claimed that though this version of Lara may have been less sexualized, she was instead portraying some sort of torture fantasy and that the game was still extremely problematic.
Having played the game, in my opinion these critics were completely missing the entire point of the game, which was to make Lara a strong character who was able to endure, overcome, and even excel in such a brutal situation. Several sequences were certainly brutal to watch, and things happen during the plot which are absolutely horrific and terrible for a person to endure, but the point is that this character had so much more depth as a result, and as a player I felt much more emotionally invested in the outcome of the plot than in games where you play as a seemingly invincible protagonist. overall it just seemed like those individuals who thought the game extremely problematic were missing one of the key aspects which the game intended to address. It was also a debate which seemed to just fade out, and I wonder what others think of the game. I have included the trailer below for anyone who might not be familiar with the game. Some people may find it graphic.