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  1. #1
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    Tomb Raider studio not "making a game about a girl"

    Crystal Dynamics' art director on why Lara Croft is no longer about "cheap visual thrills".



    Crystal Dynamics has recently come under fire for the inclusion of implied sexual violence in its Tomb Raider reboot during a scene in which Lara Croft is forced to fight for survival against a group of scavengers who have taken her prisoner.

    While the scene in question was included in the publicly available trailer shown at E3 last week, and in a behind-closed-doors demo for journalists, a subsequent interview with executive producer Ron Rosenberg, in which he suggests that the scavengers try to rape Lara, raised the hackles of commentators everywhere.

    After our hands-on demo with with the game last week, which you can read about in issue 243, out July 4, we spoke with the game's art director Brian Horton about the mature themes it addresses.

    "We’re not making a mature game because we want blood and gore and swear words," he told us. "We want to create a story that is informed by real life.

    "If it was just something that we were trying to tack on, it would be the wrong answer. But in the game it is completely integrated with what you learn about the scavengers and what this island is about, and we felt we could go there, even though we knew we were making a play that was a little controversial.

    "We’re doing it because we believe it serves the story and serves the character. It’s her turning point. It’s a place where she has to make a decision to go from reaction to action, and she realises this is what her whole life has to be if she wants to get off that island."

    Horton was careful to point out that the game's gory violence, and the vulnerability of Lara in the aforementioned scene, are contextualised by the rest of the adventure and shouldn't be considered in isolation.



    "If you play the whole thing you see the emotions she has and her evolution as a character," he said. "We believe at that point we needed a spike to the curve of getting to know Lara. But we feel like the way it is treated, the way we ‘filmed’ it - we spent a lot of time storyboarding it - we bring across that intent without being deliberately exploitative."

    Quantic Dream stirred similarly uncomfortable feelings with two scenes in Heavy Rain: one in which Madison Paige must escape from intruders in her flat wearing only underwear, and another in which she is forced to strip for a leering club owner. As games continue to represent characters with greater realism and attempt to cover more mature topics, it's a disjoint that will become increasingly common.

    Lara, though, with her exaggerated proportions and tight-fitting clothing has long been poster-fodder for adolescent's bedroom walls, and intentionally so. That perception of her might explain why it's so jarring to see her in a more adult universe.

    "The way we’re trying to treat Lara is not 'oh, we’re making a game about a girl'," continues Horton. "We’re making a game about someone who is inexperienced and who has to learn how to become a hero.

    "Now, the fact that she is a woman is not lost on us, and that’s an important part of the dynamic of it being Tomb Raider, but it’s not our primary concern to distinguish that she is a woman. We are playing up the fact that she is human and believable. So far the reaction has been very positive from the people who have seen the game, they’re starting to care for her and I don’t think they’re as eager to objectify her, in fact I think they want to protect her.

    "I feel like some of those players might actually evolve their perspective. They might look at it in the beginning and say 'I’m protecting her,' but as they grow with her, become closer to her, they’d start to think 'I am her' giving them the fantasy and fulfilment of being Lara Croft."

    Horton concludes by telling us what his wife of sixteen years thinks about the game.

    "She’s a gamer, but there are a lot of games that I make that she’s not that interested in, it doesn’t appeal to her," he explains. "She’s seen me develop this game through the whole process, and I’ve never seen her more invested and empowered as a woman. She’s like, 'This is the videogame woman I’ve been waiting for my entire life,' and I’ve heard other women say this as well. They realise this is someone they can relate to: she’s not just a buxom woman who is in the game for cheap visual thrills."
    Source

    Interesting read.
    Thanks to Kwes for the avatar!

    Metal King Slime, formerly Black. Gaming since Super Mario World (SNES).

  2. #2
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    Man, the game journalism industry sure likes to make a mountain out of a mole hill. I think these assholes just don't want game narratives to evolve. Perhaps the TR reboot should feature a female italian plumber who explores strange places collecting coins and taking on cute lil turtles...It gets really $#@!ing old, these stupid $#@!s who write bull$#@! and make scandal for the sake of hits. The scene in question isn't even bad...smh.

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    Nice to know that they care so much for their story and character development. Good sign of great games.

    I agree though, this kind of thing is overblown a lot of the time. How many movies have there been in the past few decades that have had rape scenes/implied rape scenes? Or you could just go ahead and watch The Human Centipede.

    Then again, maybe I'm just too desensitized. Been in this gen, with a surplus of violent games, what's "controversial"?
    Last edited by Joe Zombie; 06-18-2012 at 08:17.

  4. #4
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    People seem retarded when it comes to this TR reboot.
    Every article elsewhere pretty much has one person $#@!ing and complaining about how much she seems like a wimp. :/

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    It hink this game is going to be great, I much prefer this story and direction (what little of the story we have been shown) than the other tomb raider games I have played.

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    So one week these gaming "journalists" are $#@!in' about people who didn't like Mass Effect 3's ending, saying they should all keep their mouths shut because the story is "art" and they have no right to express an opinion about it, and the next week these same asshats are $#@!in' about the story in Tomb Raider. There's hypocrisy for ya.

    That's why I almost never bother looking at articles on gaming sites. Makes me feel like I'm reading a high school newspaper. There's almost no maturity or professionalism in the industry.

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  8. #7
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    Its a lot better to see a game like this develop to a brutal, intense and very graphic as opposed to the original Tomb Raider games where it was pretty much "Looks at her boobs!"
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    so these guys say they use gore and sex violence thrown to the young heroine for the good of the story but they discarded a mature sexy heroine because the sexyness was too much?
    so we better get a traumatising experience than a fun sexy woman?

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    Lol if they say so. I'll take out all the trailers and gameplay of Lara just moaning and put it to the side haha. The game looks good though not gonna lie.

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    You know what is so crazy about this. No one says anything when you can beat a guy up in a game but you show a woman being beaten than it turns into a outrage?

    I think from a story prospective, I love the direction they are taking the series. I mean Lara Croft wasn't born with dual pistols in her hands and knew how to jump like a acrobatic. She had to learn all the things. Showing the player that Lara is human and can get get bruise and hurt will allow us toactually care and bond with her.

    It isn't all about look at her this and that anymore. Plus I find the Lara Croft model more attractive than I did before. Maybe because she looks like an actual woman this time around!

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  14. #11
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    So happy to see this game get delayed to truly polish it up and make it as good as possible. TR is a series that the gaming industry needs and it also needed a re-boot. I think they are going 100% in the right direction with Lara in this game. Make her younger, less super warrior, less dork porn body type and generally more of a real person who truly is in a situation she will need to use (and develop) all of her limited abilities to get out of.
    Also, without sounding sick, I like the gritty new angle of this game. Gnarly wounds and even (again, not to be sick) fighting off captors that want do to her what they would do to most captured attractive young women in real life. It's a sense of realism as opposed to back flipping while firing off dual desert eagles into a bear and 10 dudes. A slightly skilled young woman in a very dire situation she must get herself out of. Along the way, bad things happen. She gets hurt, attacked by men (in different ways) and animals alike. I just think this game could bring this horribly broken franchise back. So, delay away if it truly adds polish and benefits the game as I really want it.

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    I don't think anyone ACTUALLY had a problem with the scene. Not even the journalists.

    It's one of those things where you might as well ask it so that you are covering every potential situation with viewers the trailer might have reached right down to the lowest denominator...just for the sake of having a well-rounded interview (and, in turn, hits/money when it's publicized).

    It's highly likely that the average person didn't have a problem with it since it adds weight and realism, but we are still coming off of a transition period from an era of gaming that was more reluctant to be thematically ambitious and mature, so it's still a relevant question for the state of our community (even if the majority of the community has already moved on from the past).

    Thus, I figure they asked it but were fully expecting the usual response about the maturity and understanding needed in their approach to the game and and why the gamers will understand that approach when they play the game. So...asking it was probably a business choice rather than a choice based on their assumptions about how most viewers reacted to the scene.
    Last edited by Bio; 06-20-2012 at 13:42.

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  17. #13
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    quite excited for this game actually. Its like theyre putting effort into the story. I remember playing tomb raider 1 and 2 and absoloutly hating them. I dont actually remember there being a story. I just remember it was a hot chick in shorts with huuuge boobs shooting things. which was enough for me. But even after a little while i started hating the games and never touched another one until Tomb raider Underworld which i enjoyed fairly well enough.

    This however, i find myself completely excited for. Almost as excited as i was for Uncharted 2 when i heard that was coming out. I think its a great time for people that have never really played a Tomb Raider game to jump in. This time with what appears to be a story (haha) and a still super hot chick with those just-right sized chesticles.

    Its just a great point to hit the reset button, stare at a really hot chicks ass, while killing stuff. with a story. and a hot chick. and her ass.


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    Wait wait wait, you mean to tell me people have a problem with that minor hint of a rape scene, which doesn't happen, but they're A-OK with Lollipop Chainsaw, which has an 18 year old girl (1 year younger than Lara), dressed in high school clothing, who happens to look underage? LOL people.


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    Oh man, I am so glad that you guys are basically on the same page as me. I saw this stupid controversy show up over night after E3 and I just don't get what the big deal is. I know that sexual assault and rape are horrible things but we are still talking about a video game. Are the journalists just looking for anything they can for a story or what?

    I for one am very stoked for this game, I have played Tomb Raider from the very beginning, and have loved most of 'em (cough Angel of Darkness cough) and this looks like it an origin story that really fits the character that we have grown up with for almost 2 decades. I was very bummed that it got delayed till next year but a better polished game will be more than awesome.

    When people are pushed to their limit or feel that their life is seriously threatened; they will resort to protecting themselves in any fashion. Hell, the guy tried to what looked like rape Lara, but she fought back and then killed him while struggling for her life. What was he thinking..... you don't take Lara, she takes you
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  20. #16
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    Gaming journalism these days.. unreal.

    I'm looking forward to the Tomb Raider reboot. Lara seems like an awesome chick to play a game as.


  21. #17
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    That's the scene? That's it? When I heard about it, I actually thought she got raped and they showed everything, like a guy beating her unconscious and savagely raping her and her screaming and stuff.

    This isn't really rape, it's attempted rape though.

    As a woman gamer, I have no quarrels with it. I don't know if I'll even play this game, it looks pretty rough. Like everyone and a lot of fellow gamers have stated, it makes the game more realistic and adds a bit more to the game. I mean, a woman is stranded on an island with rough, dirty men. Rape is something those types of men do. Then, you've got rape in movies which they show everything.

    So if movies have rape, books have rape, maybe even music refers to rape, then what's the problem with video games? They are another entertainment medium. The only thing I see is you PLAY as the person being raped, so it could affect someone differently but I'm not sure.

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  23. #18
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    ^
    Exactly


  24. #19
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    quite excited about this, but i get the feeling it's more like some hostel type thing over a tomb raider


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