Tomb Raider Outrage

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.

0 thoughts on “Tomb Raider Outrage

  1. I completely agree with your perspective. Many times the invincibility of characters is fun but at some point it becomes a bore. When I play games that have fictional themes I welcome the far-fetched nature of its heroes; but when the protagonist is an English archaeologist-adventurer I expect the line of ridiculous invincibility not to even be approached. The humanization of Lara Croft in this Tomb Raider is something to be praised; but the obsession with sexualization of characters, especially female characters creates an over-critical lens through which it is judged. Where were these critics when game creators first jumped from male protagonists (both non-sexualized and sexualized) into creating the first female protagonists who were mostly sexualized. Instead of tackling the problem at its source they tear apart every new or re-designed female protagonist produced. I am not saying that every attempt at creating a non-sexualized female protagonist is successful. However when the attempt comes close don’t reject it without even acknowledging the effort put in to break the overtly stereotypical mould.

  2. I just read your post, and I found it very interesting. All of the points you brought up made a ton of sense. But what did out to me was actually the statements you made about people not taking Lara Croft seriously as a character because of the way she was sexualized. It interested me especially because I had never heard the complaints about her outfit in relation to impracticality. Basically just introduced me to an entirely new perspective on the subject, and further complicates the issue.

  3. So I was the first to comment on this incredible post and here I am back again selecting it as one of my favorite posts. The gaming industry and even society want the reduction of sexualization in media however when developers actually try to do it they tear apart the result regardless. This post expresses this point perfectly.

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