Tomb Raider: Vulnerable Sex Object or Strong-Willed Adventurer?
- June 12th, 2012
- By MogKnight
I would be so pissed off if people start telling me I should/shouldn’t play Tomb Raider because Lara gets raped in the game.
Yeah, there’s plenty of other people talking about Tomb Raider right now (Kotaku posted up a great chat with Ron Rosenberg, Executive Producer of the game). I do like the new direction that they’re taking with Lara and putting her in situations that shows how vulnerable a human being is. If anything, this is what I yearn to see in any survival game out there. Since Resident Evil and Silent Hill are not really going with that route any more, it’s a great sight to see. Sure, there’s a little discomfort by the amount of moans and groans Lara puts out as she gets battered and bruised to death by adversaries and the environment. Nevertheless, I’m looking for to what Tomb Raider will bring, most importantly bring back.
In the trailer posted above which was shown during E3 2012, we see Lara beat up all over the place to the point where you feel pretty damn bad and just want to say “Oh god, please stop hurting her!” To push things further, there’s a little scene where this guy is trying to have his way with Lara. Mix it all together, you start to question if it is really about a human being in a vulnerable state or a presentation on how to do video game torture porn.
Sure, Lara Croft is much less sexualized than her older incarnations. However, the trade off is that she is more vulnerable, not like the strong headed woman that has appeared on the original PlayStation as a blocky, angular, character model. This is potentially sending mixed messages: Is Lara Croft an example to say that women are weak? Can entertainment of this caliber only come from the destruction and breaking of a poor woman? Is Rape actually an acceptable subject to touch in the video game medium?
Concerns are all over the place. Makes sense. But we can’t really complain that there’s no roles of women being strong in video games. In fact, there are plenty of other recent games out there that do have women that are portrayed as, well, strong women. Samus Aran (at least before Other M, but that’s another thing altogether), Faith from Mirror’s Edge, Anya as a supporting character from Gears of War are fine examples of characters that aren’t reliant on their sexy attributes. Of course, there are weak men present in some games… like Lester the Unlikely.
Protecting a vulnerable character isn’t exactly a new concept. A fine example: Look at Capcom’s Haunting Ground. Sure, it’s less violent in a real sense, but the stuff it implies is just horrifying. Hell, (SPOILER ALERT) one of the endings ends up with the main female lead character captured, raped. and forced into pregnancy.
Wow that sounds a lot worse than it really does outside of the context of the game.
Though, really, they could easily avoid the rape issue altogether, especially if it’s not critical to the plot. It is tasteless if that’s the case, as if it is the most easiest thing to slap on and pour through all the marketing channels. But imagine if the game only had that one scene where a guy is trying to have his way with Lara, and that was it. Honestly, I actually would be bored if every antagonist in Tomb Raider just wanted to get into Lara’s pants. Once, sure that’s shocking. More than that, and there will be plenty of facepalming moments from me. You’re not selling me on anything by doing that.
If anything, I’m more afraid of the fact that people may label this game as some sort of “Rape Game.” Which is a shame, again I love the new direction because Tomb Raider is bringing back something that even Survival Horror games can’t even deliver any more. I would not say that a character’s vulnerability represents anything that’s gender specific. I would be heavily disappointed if it was just that “one scene” (which it may be) and then that will be it.
You know, we are in an interesting period of time. The internet does connect us to some very interesting people, and I don’t mean that in any pleasant manner. A recent Kickstarter by Anita Sarkeesian which will fund a webseries that illustrates the various tropes and women in video games has met with warm reception and also with some… harsh testosterone rage. I’m sure some people still remember Jennifer Hepler from BioWare, in which she became the target of an onslaught of angry BioWare fans. I think it does show a great concern, especially in this medium where the internet ties us all together. Women don’t need to deal with this.
On that same note, I feel it’s beating the same dead horse. It’s not to say that the future cannot change to facilitate a better environment for everyone. However, there are those that just cannot be changed. Especially since we’re all connected on the internet, people will say the worst shit ever without consequence. There’s talks about Rape Culture and how the internet harbors this attitude. Certainly, something’s up when women are involved and the word “rape” gets tossed around. Is there a way to turn this all around? I mean, ways to turn this all around without going into that whole net neutrality thing that no one wants.
Tying this all back to Tomb Raider, why yes it is a lot more serious than watching some polygonal avatar become subjected to death traps. Everyone is in a sensitive position right now. Going back to my initial reaction of Tomb Raider back a year ago at E3 2011, I remember praising the game because it made Lara Croft more believable as a human.
When put in a dire situation as Lara, we are all capable of being at our weakest during the worst times. However, to imply that Crystal Dynamics is creating a weak character just for the sake of entertainment in watching her slowly become broken and defeated is far from the truth. Perhaps these trailers are putting forth a mistaken impression, I can only see the growth of an adventuring woman taking place within this game. I certainly can’t wait to play it, and if anything I hope Crystal Dynamic’s new game will show us how strong Lara is in the end and not how weak she is.