Laura Croft: Bad @$$ or victim?

When I saw this cover of Game Informer I got excited. That was the most bad @$$ I had seen Laura Croft ever. I got even more excited when I read the article. It said that the new game would be a reboot and origin story for Laura. She’d be a young woman right out of college looking to make her own name, when things go horribly wrong and her boat crashes on a savage island. I got super excited when the article said she WILL be hurt and she WILL get dirty. Finally a Tomb Raider Game where Laura was realistic. She was designed like a normal slightly fit woman and her actions of running around in dark damp ancient tombs would show. I loved the premise and the new direction needless to say.

But then at E3 this trailer premiered. It shows the young Miss Croft fighting beast and landscape for her very life but it also showed something else. A scavenger on the island possibly trying to rape her. The brief scene starts at about 2:18. Now spoilers nothing seems to happen she starts fighting back immediately and eventually shoots her attacker square between the eyes. I would have thought nothing of it personally had it not been for the huge backlash fueled in part by one of the producers of the game saying in an interview that “players will want to protect her in a much different way than they would a male character”……Really?

OK so to tackle this very divisive issue let’s first cover this statement that is dripping with stupidity. It implies pretty heavily that for most of the target audience they don’t want to project themselves in Laura but to act like her parent. That’s kinda creepy idea considering most players are probably going to be pretty close to Laura’s age who is in her early 20’s for this game. But I am unwilling to judge the game on this dummies comments because he is one very small part of a huge team for a blockbuster game. This is the way he views the game and he is neither a writer nor designer of the game. While his comment was stupid it in the end doesn’t matter in terms of the quality of the game.

Alright so now lets get into the real meat of the controversy, the clip itself. The game has many special interactive scenes to where if you fail Laura dies, usually in quite a gruesome way. This attempted rape scene seems to be just that type of scene to where the successful ending is Laura shooting the douche in the face. The unsuccessful result, well we don’t know what it is yet. It does seem to be that if the player fails to press the right button poor Laura gets raped and murdered. That is a very horrible thing to put into any game much less with a woman protagonist. Rape is the ultimate form of power assertion and humiliation. It has nothing to do with sex. If the unsuccessful result is that it should be removed which it seems to be. With the release date next March and how big of a backlash this 4 second clip of a 3 minute trailer seems to have made, the developers are scrambling to either change the context of the scene or take it out all together according to be a clarifying statement saying that “there is no rape in this game”. So it seems they realized their mistake and are taking it out. Awesome. I’m not going to go into the fact they thought it was OK to put it in there in the first place, that’s another article for another day.

I am going to give my thoughts (last ones for now I swear) on the other complaints of the game that the entire thing is torture porn. I disagree highly with this. Yes Laura is constantly being victimized by man, beast, savage, even her very surroundings. But you know what we also see her doing? Getting up each and every time. She is fighting for her very life with next to no tools, no experience, and no one coming to save her. If she wants to live she has to keep getting up and going forward. What I see in that magazine cover isn’t a victim but a determined woman who will let nothing stop her from getting off that island. Remember this is her origin story. She hasn’t been trained to fight for years prior to the events of the game, she’s probably never picked up a gun, never had to hunt and cook her own food or make her own shelter, never had to fight so hard to just stay alive. That makes her an even more bad ass feminist character for the 21st century, one that won’t let adversity keep her down, in my humble opinion.

note: I was highly inspired by this article which may put these ideas into better words. Check it out

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