The ‘Tomb Raider’ reboot: Why so rapey?

Posted: June 12, 2012 in Jeff Holland, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

I don’t get to play a lot of video games. While I enjoy them, I’m not all that good at them, I can’t afford them until they’ve been on a Gamestop shelf for over a year, and despite my REPEATED LETTERS, the vast majority of them don’t have Batman in them.

To put it into perspective: I JUST learned that you can show naked boobs in a game. I learned this by finally getting around to playing God of War. Which came out in 2005. When this happened, I reflexively looked around to make sure my mom hadn’t taken that moment to visit my apartment.

All of this is to say, I’m not what you’d consider an “expert” on video games.

But I’m still pretty sure that an announcement like this, regarding the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider reboot, is about the dumbest, shittiest, creepiest, lousiest thing that’s ever been announced in video games. Says executive producer Ron Rosenberg:

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.”

*Not literally.

When I started playing Batman: Arkham City a few months ago, it was the first time I really understood why kids were more interested in video games than comic books.

It’s one thing to read a comic book about Batman – but this was a video game that for all intents and purposes lets you BE Batman. It’s the most successful video-game-hero-as-avatar link-up I’ve ever experienced.

Now imagine you’re playing a side-mission in Arkham City where you’re Batman, and you’re about to get raped.

Kind of hard to imagine that scenario, huh?

The obvious difference here is that Batman is male and Lara Croft is female (I know, I know – slow down, Poindexter!). So apparently the player’s motivations shift. After all, if you’re a video game player, you’re obviously a boy, right? Who only wants to play as boys? Despite the fact that every time you play a fighting game it’s the female characters who kick your ass? As far as Rosenberg’s concerned, yes!

“When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character. 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.'”.

Well, not always:

See, if you play Batman, you want to be Batman. But if you play Lara Croft, you want to be Lara’s…older brother who’s also her sidekick? And protect her, because she’s a delicate flower? Who happens to be armed at all times?

In addition to just generally being gross and misogynistic, congratulations, Rosenberg, you’ve also confused the whole “avatar” concept!

But obviously, it’s okay to write this scenario because it’s an origin story, and she’s just starting out. So, y’know, far more rapeable than top-of-her-game Lara Croft, I suppose.

“The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear,” he said. “She literally* goes from zero to hero… we’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.”

He compared it to the origin story of a comic book like Spider-Man or Batman, saying he thinks it “has that feel to it.”

*Still not literally.

I mean, it’s just a given, fighting off a rape is essential to a hero’s origin! You remember that scene in Batman Begins where Ra’s al Ghul threatens to have his ninjas rape Bruce Wayne, right?

In conclusion, ugh. UUUUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHH.

  1. Moff says:

    They can show boobs in video games?

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    Regular boobs! Medusa boobs! All kinds of boobs!

  3. Jason Gormally says:

    It’s funny, I’m teaching foundations of game design right now and just this morning I used Ms. Croft as an example of how to evolve a character.
    I pointed out how, in the ’90s, she was hyper-sexualized, confident and attitude personified (she wears round shades! And raises her eyebrow! Radical!) and how Uncharted copied that model, only made their protagonist, Nathan Drake, more human by making him a poor, on-the-run, clumsy dude who doesn’t always avoid getting an ass kicking. He’s basically Han Solo without the Falcon.

    …So of course, since Uncharted sold like gangbusters, Lara Croft comes crawling out of the woodworks and copies him, only taking the whole “humanization of the protagonist through showing them as vulnerable” to the Nth degree.

    …Also, I think you are making a subtle plea for Lara Croft boobs in this game. Just throwin’ it out there.

  4. Jeff Holland says:

    I’m pretty sure all I said was that I was unaware that boobs ever showed up in video games until last Friday night.

    If that’s a subtle plea, it even went under my radar.

  5. Jason Gormally says:


  6. Nathan says:

    Two things:

    1. You mean to say that a game in the Tomb Raider series is taking a a game/ movie with psudo-feministic themes and/ or characters and packaging it in a way that doesn’t threaten the target audience of emotionally crippled males between thirteen and thirty in any way shape or form?

    Shock and horror.

    2. You had never realised the attraction of pretending to be an unstopable badass/ weak frightened daughter killer in a world that hates them/ clever puzzle solver/ blah in a simulated enviroment where passers by won’t stop and laugh? (Yes I have LARP’ed. Thank’s for asking.)

    Wow I’m a sarcastic arsehole.

  7. Jesse says:

    Did Gorilla Monsoon permanently destroy the word “literally”? I mean, I think there are maybe 5 people left in the world who know what it means.

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