In Response to “Tomb Raider”

Although Schleiner used more intense words to describe Lara Croft than I would myself (see Rebecca’s post), I generally agree with what she had to say about this character. I think that Lara Croft’s body was made to appeal to a predominantly male audience of video game players. In other words, I don’t think the creators of Tomb Raider were thinking about female players when they designed the main character—or, rather, heroine. However, this does not mean that female players are not important or that they are disinterested in this game. Again, I just
think that the interests of male players were considered more so than females’ interests when the curvy, vivacious Lara Croft character was created. In contrast to the Lara Croft (some of us) know and love, I think that if female
players were the target audience for this game that Lara would be a bit more realistic (i.e. bigger waist, less cleavage, smaller lips, etc). Perhaps Angelina Jolie would not have been the model for Lara Croft…

To answer Rebecca’s question, I think the Tomb Raider series would be just as successful if Lara Croft was more average-looking as long as the main character was still a woman. I think male players would still be “excited” by the fact that they were controlling a woman, instead of a man as the main character. This would not be true, though, if the main character was a man, since the majority of video games feature males as the leading role. Thus, people wouldn’t feel any differently about the Tomb Raider game as they would with any other action-adventure game. Like we’ve said in class, Mr. Bean Tomb Raider would not have the same appeal as Lara Croft Tomb Raider.

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2 Responses to In Response to “Tomb Raider”

  1. Jason Ko says:

    I forgot where I heard this line of argumentation before, but it was originally in an article by a video game critic who I believe was a female. She said that the topic of over-sexualized female characters often arises and many people seem to have problems with this, but few people seem to have qualms with the hyper-masculine characters. She remarked that these male characters can also be seen as sexualized ideals of male physiology, but they are hardly ever viewed as problematic. The most emblematic of these characters are probably Marcus and Dom from Gears of War. Few people seem to think that this does any harm introducing these unrealistic physical ideals for males to aspire to.

    However, to address the point you have made more directly, Tomb Raider is basically the videogame version of the themes addressed in Indiana Jones. According to the people who do Extra Credits (I believe it was them at any rate) the character of Laura Croft was designed as a female Indy. In the same way that Indy is slightly hyper-masculine, Croft was designed to be hyper-feminine in appearance. In this context I use hyper-feminine to be “extra female” not “extra girly.” Somewhere down the road, marketing decided to play up her up as the sexy woman instead of the awesome woman who just happened to be sexy that her creator intended.

    If you doubt that a game could create a character who is tough and just happens to be an attractive woman, look no further than Samus Aran, heroine of the Metroid series. In the older games, the only way the player would know that the character they had been playing as was a woman was by playing the game really well. In this way, the game was saying “look what you can do as a player” while simultaneously saying “look what this character is capable of… oh by the way, it’s a woman.” You could argue that this reveal is also somewhat male-oriented as the revelation is conveyed by having Samus remove her suit. A high enough score would apparently leave her in basically a bikini. However, you must take this within it’s historical context. It would be hard to tell that this was indeed a woman with the limited graphical capabilities of the NES. This costume would have left no doubt that the main character was indeed a woman.

    On yet another note, Uncharted is basically what happens when you attempt a similar Indiana Jones style adventure with a male protagonist. Apparently there are female characters in that series who play “supporting roles” of sorts and who are rather well fleshed out characters. I haven’t played any games from that series myself though, so I could not say for sure.

  2. Lauren says:

    I remember you and I writing about the appearance of male figures in video games, and I agree with you that there seems to be less outrage over males being extremely muscled than females being extremely busty.

    I was unaware that Lara Croft was intended to be the female equivolent of Indiana Jones. Put that way, I have a little more respect for her character as a positive role model for women, rather than just eye candy for male players.

    Lastly, I remember the moment when I found out that Samus was a woman. It occured while playing Super Smash Brothers. Apparently, if you shock Samus using Pikachu, you can see her, shall we say, anatomy, quite clear. I guess I have less of a problem with Samus as I do with Lara Croft because of their outward appearances. Whereas Samus is indistinguishable from a male, Lara Croft is without-a-doubt a woman, and I think this alters the mindset of *some* players (i.e. controlling Samus is simply a part of game play, whereas controlling Lara Croft is an act of pleasure for some, since it reveals her body).

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