It Made Me Want to Drown Things – Thoughts on My Beloved Tomb Raider

  • Sponsored

  • Growing up, Tomb Raider was important to me. There were few heroines in films that warranted their own stories, fewer still on television. You could say the same today, even. Lara Croft said to me, the little 12-year-old me, it is okay to do things by yourself. And you can do things by yourself. And you don’t need anyone else. You don’t need protecting. Stand up for yourself.

    This message – that a woman such as Lara can be as capable as any male hero – has gradually been eroded, not elevated, over time. When Crystal Dynamics attained this unattainable woman, male characters started to crowd in and help her: I remember being particularly distressed that I was being babysat through the earlier levels of Legend by some guy in her earpiece. If her character had been satisfactorily developed past the ‘she’s so hot’ phase, perhaps it wouldn’t have been necessary to have her be ‘enhanced’ by the company of dude characters who would shield her from harm and buoy her up like an armored push-up bra. They dropped the dudes when they made Anniversary (an excellent homage to the original Tomb Raider), presumably to get back to the original as much as possible, and it was a relief.

    Do men play Tomb Raider never feeling like they identify with Lara? Even though they are controlling her, is she still a she and not a me?

    In Anniversary they leveraged Lara’s aloneness to give her power and used the tension before battles to make you reticent to go forward, just as in the original. In Legend, that exploration was less of a contemplative pleasure with an earpiece guy, and in Underworld it is almost recognized that Lara’s assistants are annoying because they are relegated to cutscenes. The environment and Lara’s relationship with it was always the important theme in the earliest games: the two tussled, as powerful as each other, with the irritating ass-bound camera as arbitrator. There was less room to feel protective of her. She died or she didn’t. And now the new Tomb Raider comes along and proclaims it is all about protecting again.

    I always wondered myself how men felt about her. I suspected that the addition of the male ‘help’ in Legend was a sign that the developers felt like Lara should be protected, and that the male player should want to feel like they want to protect her too. When I play games, I do not want to play a character that needs protecting. I want to be the powerful, interesting hero that men always get without a shred of argument. Lara was always not so good on the ‘interesting’ hero front, but at least she had power. The power of being alone. The idea that Lara suddenly needed protectors gave way to me thinking in a different way about her: do men play Tomb Raider never feeling like they identify with her? Are they outside of her, looking in? Even though they are controlling her, is she still a she and not a me? Years of watching men yell ‘bitch’ at the screen every time she failed to make a jump made me wonder.

    Then I wondered if men were empowered by her like me, or whether, because she had been so sexualized, as to whether she had become a fetish object (object being the important word). Because if this game, made by men, for men, that had accidentally gotten into my little 12-year-old hands once upon a time, was instead intended to sexualize how Lara interacted with her environment, or even have the violence done to her become pleasurable to watch, it is something that we should be greatly uncomfortable with.

    A Twitter conversation between Jenn Frank, George Buckenham and I materialized recently, when we were discussing that trailer. We’d seen this fetish theme perfectly summed up, in one of our favorite programs, Channel 4’s excellent and legendary Spaced.

    Tim Bisley breaks up with his girlfriend and spends his time drowning Lara as retribution. It’s interesting that the phrase ‘it made me want to drown things’ is used, because that makes it seem as if Lara is The Other, an exotic object rather than a person that we identify with. Her sexual moan when she drowns, rather than a water-related noise, suggests that her death is almost some sort of reward. You know, like a great big orgasm from your girlfriend.

    Now this is not to say that when men break up with me I don’t go straight to Uncharted and chuck Drake off a roof. I too am familiar with that Kieron Gillen article, which also mentions Spaced. I’m just saying that Spaced has cleverly highlighted that you could conflate Lara’s death with sex (or I guess, the withholding of sex by women). When Nathan lands his handsome spine on the ground after he’s missed a jump, he doesn’t do his best O noise (to everyone’s disappointment), and you’re certainly not invited to try out an assortment of deaths and bumping into things to see what hot sex sounds he might make. The developers just haven’t thought that way about Nate. His sound effects are short and sharp, rather than elongated and low and sexy. In fact, Nate’s deaths encourage the player to get back in and have another go immediately by not dwelling on the death animation, by making Nathan have a sense of humour about his situation (‘Oh crap!’) that makes you feel like death isn’t a big deal, isn’t the point, isn’t something to meditate on (no one has ever thought of making Lara genuinely funny – women aren’t funny).

    Look at this little IGN Nathan death video:

    There is not one sound in there I would want coming from a dude who was doing me right. And just remember how long old Tomb Raider used to dwell on those death scenes? Impaled on spikes? Drowning? Falling to her death screaming? Are we meant to be getting off on how much pain she is in? Because her death scenes are really elongated. Like her lovely thighs.

    Is Tomb Raider now torture porn? Like Joss Whedon might argue?

    Imagine. Imagine if you will, the impossible. Imagine that there is a whole AAA studio full of women developers making Uncharted. Maybe there is one guy, who has to make the tea, we don’t know. Anyway, mostly ladycakes. And they are making a game where Nathan Drake dies suggestively, where the camera gets attached to his toned butt a lot, that fetishizes his being impaled on things, or bumping into things, that has his O sound attached to a drown animation. Now imagine that most gamers are women, and that most of the gamers who will be playing this game are women, and that it is being marketed to women. That women whoop and cheer when Nathan sighs his little orgasmic groans and moans of pain on the screen at E3.

    What in hell would that make dudes feel like? It would feel like a conspiracy, an assault on the most private of man sounds.

    But imagine still that you live in a world where a man being hot is an invitation to women sexually assaulting him. And then you make a trailer for Uncharted where an extremely hot and oversexualized man is beaten and shot at and drowned and is almost raped. The all-women audience at E3 whoops and cheers.

    Imagine you live in a world where a man being hot is an invitation to women sexually assaulting him. 

    I do not have to imagine that world. In my world it is quite real, and I’d thank everyone to stop pretending like games need that to control an audience like pack animals after a side of beef. That beef is poisoned. It is gross. It is unhealthy. (Uh. I totally just threw up on your shoe. Sorry.)

    The solution? It’s down to how diverse your studio is, because that will bring you a balanced outlook and a better picture of whom you can sell your product to (and a bigger market!). There would also be less offensive content in general. If there had been about 50% women working on the team at Crystal Dynamics, maybe Ron Rosenberg might not have described the new Lara Croft as a ‘cornered animal’ but, instead, maybe a lady PR might have said how much she identifies with Lara as a person and not made her sound the equivalent of a plaything that men like to flick across a map. Maybe people would have faith that Lara almost being sexually assaulted would be treated with the seriousness it deserves, instead of being swept under the carpet. Maybe it wouldn’t have been included at all. Maybe Lara would have had a sense of humor before now, because women would demand that she be an interesting person.

    The new Tomb Raider might be good; still, all of the problems with Tomb Raider again circle around how it is sold to us, and that really has always been the problem with it. A wonderful thing popped up a few days ago. Someone had replaced the words ‘Lara Croft’ with ‘Indiana Jones’ on that terrible Ron Rosenberg diatribe about his creation.

    Someone smart once said to me, “If you ever want to know whether something is an equality issue for you or not, just think to yourself, ‘Would that be done to a guy?’ Or, ‘Would a guy have to do that?’ If the answer is no, call bullshit.”

    I call bullshit.

    I hope Ron Rosenberg is just really bad at marketing his game, because I really want to play this installment of Tomb Raider. If I really identify with Lara and care about her whilst playing this game I think I will like it. I always felt good about being Lara Croft in the past, though her sexual moans might have been silly or her deaths might have been greatly exaggerated. I always think, though she is not intended for me, that I can make my own narratives about her (whilst staring at her butt). Perhaps one day her narratives won’t be quite so problematic. Perhaps one day I will have a daughter, and I will be able to teach that daughter how to be a hero without me having to teach her about rape, or her being terrified of Lara’s too-loud screams as she falls from the edge of a precipice.

    One day maybe I hope to have more than a set of Ridley Scott movies to teach my daughter how to be noble, interesting or heroic. Maybe one day I will have a game for that.


    You can fetishize Cara on Twitter at @CaraEllison. Jenn and George are at @Jennatar and @V21 respectively.

    Commentary, Games
    Unwinnable On The Web:

    19 thoughts on “It Made Me Want to Drown Things – Thoughts on My Beloved Tomb Raider

    1. dave trainer says:

      I remember the days of play the original Tomb Raider and I totally remember the sexualized context she as a character was always be placed in. My buddies would swear there was a "nude" or "topless" mode out there and it made us laugh and possibly think that there maybe was one, but we all knew it was hogwash. I really dug the series and can honestly say it never mattered to me she was a girl, I never felt less empowered, maybe broke because she was FLUSHED WITH CASH.( Tomb Raider 2 had you go through the tutorial in her huge mansion). Other than that when playing, I enjoyed the story more than anything, I though it was cool to play as a girl but in all fairness even if it was a dude I could have cared less, I enjoyed the game first. Doing back flips while shooting wolves!? total badass.

    2. @deffjunn says:

      You'll always have Mirror's Edge.

      Anyways, I quite enjoyed this. I still get whatever the opposite of aroused is whenever I watch clips of the new Tomb Raider — makes me more uncomfortable than anything else. At the same time, I'll never get why so many female protagonists like New Lara are designed to be protected in the first place.

      The cool thing about the Drake example is that he's written by Amy Hennig, a woman, and he's such a relatable, unexploited, human character. With TR, we've got something of the opposite going on (although it's not like New Lara is completely foreign to us as an audience). You're right when you say more female leadership was needed behind the scenes of the reboot, and in general. The ideas are always coming from somewhere.

    3. Never enjoyed the old Tomb Raider games, not sure if I'll enjoy this one but I really can't get over how fucked up this article is.

      "I will be able to teach that daughter how to be a hero without me having to teach her about rape" It's your goddamn responsibility to teach your daughter about the horrors of the world, not hide her from them, lest she be utterly unprepared and then easily victimized.

      "Her sexual moan when she drowns, rather than a water-related noise, suggests that her death is almost some sort of reward." No, it really doesn't. Who is suggesting these things to you?

      "do men play Tomb Raider never feeling like they identify with her?" Yes.

      "Years of watching men yell ‘bitch’ at the screen every time she failed to make a jump made me wonder." So when I call Batman a fucking dick because he missed a jump, is that sexist?

      1. As far as I know (and hope) this conflict people are having with the new Lara's character is made-up and limited to a very small number of strange people. I'm not sure if anybody's noticed this about the new TR but in the gameplay, she KILLS MEN WHOLESALE. Just like she used to. However now, because she's a vulnerable squishy bag of meat like real humans are, there's some kind of intense sexual victimization being imagined. Lara's situation would be equally as horrible and realistic as if there was a young, frail Nate Drake in the main role. The thought of being in that situation as either a man OR woman makes me uncomfortable in equal measure. Let's say they get rid of her overdone audio cues. I hope they do. Will everyone's opinion change? I hope it would because that seems to be the only "argument" being produced to validate this "issue."

        1. By the way, if the best you can do is Ridley Scott movies for good female role models, you could probably look a little harder. Umm, what about Nausicaa, the girls in Odin Sphere, the warrior women in Tactics Ogre like Ozma (arguably the strongest character in the game) and Cerya, Meryl Silverburgh, the Boss, Amanda Libre, Claire Redfield, Lady in DMC (yeah she's not tastefully dressed, I know), so on and so forth… most of them are far more interesting than their blank-faced robotic trope male comrades.

        2. Erik says:

          "Lara's situation would be equally as horrible and realistic as if there was a young, frail Nate Drake in the main role." I think part of her point though, is that this doesn't happen. You tell me of a strong male lead character in a game who in a later episode in the franchise has been reduced to a raped, 'cornered animal', or anything close to that.

    4. Great article! Tomb Raider Legend was the first one I actually enjoyed, and I'd hoped we'd get more in the vein of that and Anniversary. While I'm admittedly coming from a male perspective, the male characters in Legend seemed barely even sidekicks to me. They got almost no narrative focus, and were mostly there for comic relief as Alistair didn't even have the stomach to watch the high jumping video from Lara's cam. It's been a little while since I've played it, but did they really "shield her from harm"? As far as I remember, she dispatches them for essentially random errands since they can't handle the dangerous stuff, and she eventually has to rescue them. I'm genuinely curious what gave you this vibe, since we have very different interpretations of Legend's success in including male characters that don't usurp Lara's narrative.

      "The new Tomb Raider might be good; still, all of the problems with Tomb Raider again circle around how it is sold to us, and that really has always been the problem with it."

      I couldn't agree more with the main point of your article, though. I really want to give the game developers the benefit of the doubt, and then the executive producer goes and says some stupid bullshit. Batman: Year One/Batman Begins exists to give the male audience a look at their capable, invincible hero as a more relatable rookie, still developing the skills he's renowned for. The Tomb Raider reboot may end up doing the same. But according to the producer? It exists to give the male audience another male power fantasy where the heroine has to be protected.

    5. Grahav says:

      "Imagine you live in a world where a man being hot is an invitation to women sexually assaulting him. "

      Some hentai manga do this. I don't like them. Some people like and I am cool with it.

      But you are correct that women are badly represented in videogames without the drowning of Croft.

      More female protagonists and characters without super sexualization are necessary. And women can have their torture porn of Nathan Drake if they want also. As long as I don't have to watch it.

    6. TheGodEmperor says:

      To be honest, you know why I don't think we see much in terms of strong women in games or books or movies or the media in general? Because we barely see them in real life. Find me a woman that is actually willing to muster up inner strength and be the one asking the guy out before they even meet. Find me a woman that's willing to sacrifice even bonds with friends and family for the person they claim to love. Find me a woman that's willing to move distances upon distances just to be with the man they love. Find me that woman, cause I've never seen one.

      Women in my life have been weak. Even if they were smart, even if they were interesting, even if they were good people, they all were still very very weak. My mother, all my female classmates, my female friends, etc. All of them were always too weak to deal with true hardships in life and all of them always gave up when things got tough. That's why I don't think we see strong women in the media. Because we don't see strong women in real life. Not these days. And then those who try to be strong do get downplayed in the media. It's a vicious cycle of stupid to be completely honest and I hate it. Because I WANT strong women. Hell, all ideas for stories I've had? Most of the main women characters my friends and I would create? All of them were strong women willing to uphold their ideals and values and beliefs.

      I've not seen that in the real world. I've seen women claim they wanna wait until marriage and then as soon as the lust fills them, they can't control themselves and hold out. I've seen women claim they want a boyfriend, but never go out and actively seek or ask guys out. Always subtle flirting at best which just doesn't work well on guys. I've seen women complain about their careers or pay checks only to not see them actively try and talk to their bosses for a pay raise or a promotion of any kind. I can go on and on. And it just makes me sad…

      Oh, and about the pay difference, since I mentioned pay checks. The differences right now? Where there is a pay difference, it's generally due to the fact that women do NOT negotiate their pay amount nearly at the same rate men do. Men are aggressive even from day 1 at negotiating a higher pay. And, interesting stuff, apparently if you account for more and more variables, in MANY areas of the work force, women are paid more for their time.


      So ya, find me a strong woman, I'd really like one for once -_-

    7. BRex says:

      If you reversed the scenes, with Nathan making a loud anguished pseudo-sexual groan and Lara's death scenes were short almost comedic, there would still be an issue, It would be trivializing the deaths and laughing at the pain of women. I've got a buddy who is a bit writer in some of the theatre scene here he always told me he hated writing women because "there are so many more rules." often times there is just no way to win.

      Also as an aside on "Imagine you live in a world where a man being hot is an invitation to women sexually assaulting him. " I actually live in that world, except its not being "hot" so much as owning a penis. By virtue of being male, you are expected to always want sex all the time, If you turn it down, you're probably gay, if you accept it, you only think about one thing. I live in a world where if a man is forced into sex, he probably wanted it, where "sexual initiation" is a defence for women who statutorily rape male children and god help them if they end up with a child out of it.

    8. Maxwell says:

      I'll preface this by saying two things. The first is that I'm male and the second is that I've never played Tomb Raider, so I'm going to be putting all my faith in the author here and assume that I've not been mislead in regards to both the content and promotional statements about the newest entry (an assumption I'm quite sure is valid).

      Making an independent, admirable female character into something to be protected is ridiculous and a stupid direction to take a series built around such a character. While there are certainly other female protagonists worth looking up to (Samus Aran comes to mind) there is a noticeable dearth of them when it comes to video games and I would be absolutely thrilled to see more of them. I can think of a decent number of supporting females who're impressively strong (strangely enough Rose from the late 90's PSX release Legend of Dragoon was one of the first to leap to mind) but even still, females are all too often relegated to the role of protection-bait. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it should be noted. It's perfectly possible to write a believable and interesting damsel-in-distress character and merely being in distress does not make a damsel weak. I wouldn't characterize many incarnations of Zelda as weak, for example, even if her principle role is to be protected by Link.

      However, there are too few strong female lead roles in gaming and I would love to see a slew of them. As a call to arms regarding the injustice of both the lack of strong video game women and a pointless, misogynistic weakening of one of the few who do exist I am fully in line with this article. I think a lot of much-needed narrative depth and variation of character types could be achieved with a little bit more open-mindedness towards video game women and the ways they can be written by developers and audiences alike.

      That said, a lot of the presumptions and implications in the article frankly bordered on the offensive. For example, the assertion that Lara's drawn out death sequences fetishize what should be deeply uncomfortable. First off, drawn out, disturbingly gory death sequences are staples of games starring men, too. Watching Leon Kennedy torn apart by zombies in the second Resident Evil game, accompanied by shrieks of agony, was comparable to and no more sexual than the same happening to Claire. Played poorly, PS2's Shadow of Destiny involved witnessing the very much male main character's gruesome demise over and over again. Plenty of male characters are treated to drawn out death animations and it wouldn't matter how sexy and breathy they got while dying-a death animation is a death animation. They're rarely particularly disturbing but they're certainly not enjoyable to watch. They're simply representative of a failure.

      Why give a female character sexualized death noises at all? The same reason that the pants of effort of media-women engaged in combat are typically sexualized. These women are usually scantily clad (and you can argue this as an act of misogynistic aggression but that is an entirely different discussion) and engaged in physically strenuous-and showy-activities. Combine that with the human tendency to find an attraction to violence and it's another piece of fanservice. Misogynistic? Arguably, but I don't think that these characters make these noises because men are supposed to (or do) enjoy watching women be brutalized, but because men are supposed to enjoy half-naked women moaning, regardless of circumstance.

      And that is an irritating oversight of the article. The author simply assumes that men do want nothing more than a shallow show of eye-candy from their video games, which is offensive enough without going deeper to the assumption that men just want to watch women beaten. On top of that, however, the idea that men can only appreciate a video game with their dicks is never called into question as sexist on the part of developers. It's sexist to write a female protagonist as needing to be protected (in this context, a fact I whole-heartedly agree with) but the idea that men need to want to protect a female protagonist to identify is simply accepted.

      I don't mean to cite the age-old and rather disgusting argument that women should shut up about discrimination since men deal with it too. That's a terrible way to look at much of anything. However, the implied acceptance that developers are "giving men what they want" makes the whole article feel biased to the point of offense. It gets worse with the following paragraph.

      "But imagine still that you live in a world where a man being hot is an invitation to women sexually assaulting him. And then you make a trailer for Uncharted where an extremely hot and oversexualized man is beaten and shot at and drowned and is almost raped. The all-women audience at E3 whoops and cheers."

    9. Maxwell says:

      The implications here are astounding. Only women are victims of sexual abuse? Only men are capable of perpetrating it? Men see an attractive woman as an invitation to sexual assault? Perhaps this is an oversensitive reading of that statement, perhaps the error is mine, but to me that reeks of a disgusting and divisive attempt to make sexism the solitary burden of men, to discredit the idea that any man does not want to harm a woman or that any woman can or would harm a man.

      Finally, the reference to male gamers shouting "Bitch" at Lara after failing a jump is just pathetic. Yes, "bitch" is a word associated with the feminine. That does not mean that expressing frustration at a game character is sexist. Frankly, if Silent Hill's Harry Mason could get away with me calling him something as innocuous as a bitch after blundering into a fucking monster nurse for the fortieth time, he and my fiancee's ears would be overcome with an almost biblical sense of joy.

      The state of female characters, particularly protagonists, in gaming could use some improvement. This is improvement that I would love to see coming, and the existence of articles that act as concrete proof of the existence of a female market for video games gives me hope to see it. Sexism, however, is a two-way street and the accusatory, almost venomous tone this particular article took towards men seemed counter-productive if not hypocritical to me.


      I apologize for the double-post, my utter lack of a life is showing in my overzealous TL;DRing

    10. @Carachan1 says:

      Actually, I include the idea that women might be capable of gross animalistic behaviour in the paragraph that goes on and on about how the all-female E3 whoops and cheers at Nathan's sexualisation. Too much leeway on rape culture will lead to that sort of thing, with anyone.

      I find 'bitch' a particularly offensive word, more so than any other, because it really is intended in many ways to get women to shut up. It was an observation that I have made that still nags at me, because I don't think it's appropriate to say that to a female person, or a female avatar. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm sorry if my feeling uncomfortable, and talking about it, makes you feel uncomfortable.

      I am not venomous at all to any men, or women. Some people in video game culture are venomous towards women though. This is unfortunate.

    11. @Carachan1 says:

      There is a video here on Critical Path where Toby Gard talks about Lara Croft, who worked on the Tomb Raider series from the beginning, and the feelings of 'protection' and how gamers get off on her deaths:

    12. Panino Manino says:

      A few things caught my attention in this text, and are equivocal.
      Firstly, this new game is an origin story, which take place BEFORE Lara became the independent heroine that everyone knows. It could be her or anyone else, in an extreme situation is natural to feel empathy and want to at least help, and in her case the producers chose to confront her with extreme challenges to form her character to make her on adventuress we know, she begins the game as some girl and ends as Lara Croft.

      Anyway, talking about the misconceptions.
      You are VERY wrong to say that these games are made only for men, and especially BY men only. Nowadays there are many women in video games industry, including in Crystal Dinamics. For better or for worse, many of the ideas that are being criticized in this game came from writer Rhiana Pratchett. This at least suggests that this sexist bias (in general) has at least the connivance of (some) women.
      Another HUGE mistake is when commenting about Uncharted, it almost seems like that new "joke"/meme "It was my privilege". If you do not know, a woman is one of the powerful of the Naughty Dog studio, Amy Henning is the creator and designer of the series, the very soul of the characters in the series is her credit. Actually Uncharted is a neutral game in this respect, because you have several female characters portrayed with decent dignity in the series, but you picked up to make contrast with the alleged problems in Tomb Raider and unfairly convicted that game, as if it had guilt for being "well done".

      Over time the games are getting better in this aspect, compare with what was years ago.
      Currently they are on an average cultural market hollywood's level and the trend is increasingly improving.

    13. Green Eyes Fashion says:

      You have perfectly summed up my immediate opinions on the issues in this game as I first watched the walkthrough weeks ago, having never played or watched anything in the Tomb Raider franchise I was shocked at the overtly explicit masochism that seems present in the game.

    14. Watcher says:

      The action is more gruesome and realistic. My partner has just started playing the new Lara and rather than enjoying seeing her die over and over. He is more compelled to get her through it. He has commented on the excessive violence as in feeling that it is over done. Initially I agreed with the viewpoint of yours and many others about how this was problematic, but after watching him play and his reactions to it. I kind of think it might be a wake up call to what real violence is. It is not glamorised like in mortal kombat as an aim of the game, you are actively trying to avoid getting hurt and blood splattering the camera.

      Particularly on the attempted rape scene I could tell that he was uncomfortable playing that section, from a nervous laugh (the kind you hear at funerals) and then commenting about how difficult to defeat the assailant was. To then trying to minimise what actually happened and what she(he) had to do to get out of the situation. I could tell from the look on his face, that in the back of his mind he was thinking is this what actually happens to women.

      Of course there will always be people who don't see this view, but I think it might be an eyeopener for many.

      Having said that the constant moans and cries and whimpers are completely unrealistic and do become quite irritating. The are like you say overly sexualised. As a martial artist I have observed little difference between men and women crying out in pain and both build up tolerances pretty quickly. In fact for me the more serious and painful something is the more likely my body is to shut down/delay my pain receptors. I really hope that Lara's moans start to decrease as the game progresses and she starts to get that numbness that goes with shock and trauma. They haven't once shown her properly angry yet either. They do show her empathy though and I think this is a great strength and the story is interesting.

      On a sidenote: He said there is a lot more fighting than puzzle solving in this version. Something we both prefer in our game playing.

    15. Rhissanna says:

      I'm not so much about the sexualizing of woman as the wholesale, arrogant demonizing of men; the assumption that all men, your fathers, your lovers and your new-born sons, are barely restrained rapists and abusers and murderers. It's divisive, it's neurotic and it's all over this article in an unapologetic way. Shame on you.

    16. Uncouth Angel says:

      I am a heterosexual male gamer, and I have played all of the Tomb Raider games, ever since I was a teenager. While I was a horny adolescent, I never fantasized much about Lara sexually, because I had too much respect for her character. Nor did I want to “protect” her, as she plainly didn’t need to be rescued. I instead fantasized about BEING her. She’s a great escapist character, probably one of the best ever conceived.

      When I played TR, I identified with Lara for the same reason I identified with any video game protagonist: because I was drawn into her adventure and her problems were mine. Sure, I occasionally killed her to “test” a dangerous area, or to re-watch a particularly amusing death scene, but this was for the same reason that I sometimes intentionally killed King Graham in King’s Quest V.

      I honestly think you’re reading too much into it to say that her various grunts and death sounds were sexual. Some people might just hear them that way since there weren’t many female protagonists in video games back then. That connection never once crossed my mind at any point in the games, and I don’t believe for a moment that the designers intended this to be the case. Likewise, this is also true for Lara’s more gruesome and elaborate deaths. They are few and far between, and simply there to remind us that she’s mortal. I honestly believe the game would have played the same way with a male protagonist back in 1996.

      I have been a member of the community for about seven years now, and of this selection of the fanbase, I can confidently say that at least 50% of male Tomb Raider fans are gay. Like The Wizard of Oz, Tomb Raider has inexplicably attracted a large LGBT fanbase. And outside of the men, I would say that at least a quarter of the Tomb Raider fans on this board are female (with a normal distribution of sexual orientations), and many of them were likely attracted to this series because of its protagonist. In fact, I met my fiance here.

      So no matter how much you try to politicize Tomb Raider and turn it into a story about a sexist game exacerbating the latent misogyny of its designers and fanbase, the fact remains that a significant portion of Lara’s fans are clearly drawn to her for other reasons.

    Comments are closed.