Players will want to “protect” an increasingly-battered Lara Croft in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, its executive producer has said.
The series’ young heroine will lose her best friend, be beaten, bruised, kidnapped, and finally be subjected to an attempted rape.
“When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character,” executive producer Ron Rosenberg explained to Kotaku.
“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.’”
The challenges facing Croft will allow her to appear more human, Rosenberg added.
“The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualised version of yesteryear. 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.”
“She is literally turned into a cornered animal. It’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s forced to either fight back or die.”
It’s not the first time that developer Crystal Dynamics has explained how it wants players to notice Lara’s youth and vulnerability. Art director Brian Horton revealed last year that the new Lara, by design, has “a little bit of that baby fat”.
“We wanted to make a girl that was somewhat familiar, yet had a special quality about her - something in the way her eyes look and her expression in her face that makes you want to care for her.”
“Her skin is still bare on the arms and there are going to be rips and tears on her clothes, but it won’t be about being revealing. It’s a way of saying that through these tough situations, there is a beauty and vulnerability coming through. I think that is sexy in its own way.”
WHAT THE FUCK!?
This is everything that women complain about video games:
1) The assumption that no woman (and definitely no rape survivor, of any gender) is playing this game, and that all the players are gonna be hetero men who see Lara Croft as a virtual girlfriend and not associating with her or seeing her as their avatar
2) Rape is a thing that happens to women and is really about the men and protecting us and feeling bad for us rather than a serious fucking traumatic event!
3) That there’s “beauty and vulnerability” and “sexy” in an attempted rape, because again, this is not about Lara, this is about the hetero male player looking AT Lara, and the threat of rape hanging over her existing for THEM as part of some protection fantasy.
4) Rape is a way to notice Lara’s beauty and youth, which is so fucked up and plays into all sorts of fucked up stereotypes of what sexual assault is about I want to scream.
5) The threat of being sexually assaulted makes Lara more “human”, because we know female heroes who run around kicking ass without being raped are oh-so-inhuman. Heaven forbid we have a female hero who isn’t vulnerable or existing for men to protect.
And yes Crystal Dynamic released a damage control statement but it really doesn’t say anything contrary except that it makes it more apparent the interviewed guy spoke out of school more than said anything that wasn’t true (or what the Studio intended.)
“One of the character defining moments for Lara in the game,” he continued, “which has incorrectly been referred to as an ‘attempted rape’ scene is the content we showed at this year’s E3 and which over a million people have now seen in our recent trailer entitled ‘Crossroads’. This is where Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time.
“In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly. Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game.
I guess we’ll find out if they’re trying to split hairs and claim “oh she’s totally not being threatened with rape in that scene” or the guy interviewed really was saying something totally untrue. But lots of male heroes are forced to take a human life without being threatened with rape, so that is no excuse to have that threatened.
I really think the logic goes “it’s a beautiful woman captured and beaten down, what else would a villain do to such a woman but rape her?” and it’s just seen as if this thing that would just “naturally” happen. (Victim blaming stuff goes the same way, after all, wouldn’t a guy just rape a beautiful woman who is drunk? Or was wearing XYZ clothes?)
This thing reminds me of a Resident Evil 4 thread I saw on a gaming board where the male fans were talking about the period of the game where Ashley is still captured and talking about whether or not she was raped before Leon rescues her, and they all pretty much agreed she must have been, because after all, what else would you do to a pretty girl if you have her captured? >_<
And it’s just… rape as a natural thing that happens to women who are captured (and of course not to men, nobody wondered if during the periods where Leon is unconscious, anybody raped him, which erases male rape survivors also), rape as being about attractiveness, and that rape was so distant to these people discussing it that it was like discussing whether or not she was tied up with ropes.
It really disgusts me. As a gamer, as a woman and as a rape survivor how rape is seen as this thing to happen to female characters that is really about eliciting a response from male characters or presumed-to-be-male-gamers, how a word like “sexy” is used in that context, how rape is just this thing women have to deal with, and of course that any men playing the game couldn’t possibly be a rape survivor themselves (and a male character could never be at threat of being raped.)
This is what people mean by “rape culture” and I want it gone in my video games.
(And as a clarification to ward off the inevitable comment, I’m not saying “rape can never be used in fiction”, notice that my critique is HOW it’s being used, and the thinking behind it, and the assumption of who the audience is and how the female heroine is expected to be viewed.)
Perfect commentary. Disgusting game.
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