Tomb Raider

In Schleiner’s article about gender and gender-roles in video games, she points out early on that before Tomb Raider, characters were “almost exclusively male, with the exception of the princesses offered as battle trophies…” and while Lara Croft is most definitely the heroine in her games, she is also, according to Schleiner, “an idealized, eternally young female automaton, a malleable, well-trained techno-puppet created by and for the male gaze” with “Barbie-like proportions”. I’m pretty sure we have all realized that Barbie does not look like your average woman, so why does this character, described as “a highly educated and adventurous upper-class British woman”, have similar proportions? Is it because people thought that the only way to sell a game centered around a female character was to have her look like that? And if she were less well endowed, would the Tomb Raider games be as successful? I would like to say yes, after all, gameplay would not change at all; the only change would be in the character design. Do you think the Tomb Raider series would be as successful with a Lara Croft that had a different body design? After all, the face of Tomb Raider would be the same, the game of Tomb Raider would be the same, the only thing that wouldn’t be the same would be the character’s proportions.

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2 Responses to Tomb Raider

  1. Farah Madi says:

    I totally agree with what you are saying. Yes, I would also like to say that the game would still be successful if Lara Croft did not look as she does now, but I do not think this is true. Most people, sadly, do judge a book by its cover; as do I. And, the “cover” would be Lara Croft. If she was an unattractive female, I do not think there would be as significant a following as there is now. Some people might buy the game or play only because of the way she looks.

    One example is the game Tetris. In the original format, it is fun and kid-friendly, but when the face was changed to show death, as we saw in class, I thought it was horrible and I would never play it. In this example, the face of the game changed the player’s views dramatically, even though the game was still the same.

    I think there is a point in which changing the face of the game would also change the way the player sees the game. With Tomb Raider, it is hard to make too many changes to the character since they are shown in the player’s view. Also, the player may associate with what the character looks like, and if the character is not great-looking, they may not want to see themselves that way. I personally think that the way Lara Croft looks is ridiculous, but there are some things that people are stubborn about, especially when it comes to making people look realistic.

  2. bgilroy1 says:

    I think Lara Croft’s proportions fit into the entire aesthetic of the 1990’s. The entire toy industry created idealized toys, Barbie and GI Joe being the two sides of the gender coin.

    I included a chart of how muscle density has changed for males and another one for females. I think for whatever reason, the aesthetic of that time was distinctly and intentionally unrealistic and exaggerated, especially if you consider other cultural artifacts of that time period.

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