It didnâ€™t take long before the new Tomb Raider trailer began to spark quite the controversial debate amongst the gaming universe; namely the question of â€śIs Lara Croft a victim of â€śtorture pornâ€ť? The fact that this question has actually circulated thoroughly enough to make people think is not the issue, questioning is knowledge and contemplation is a lost art in this era of ignorance. Then I thought about it a little more and it hit me that most people would just simply prefer that it is some form of pornography. It is no secret that women donâ€™t have the most favorable history amongst the general gaming community in terms of equality and respect, and the positive light in which they are portrayed in actual titles are few and far between. In the same spirit of detoxing the drug that is ignorance however I would beg everyoneâ€™s indulgence as to why this topic has reached unreasonable proportions, and why Lara Croft is not the subject of some anti-female conspiracy.
It all started with the moans. After all, those were present in the previous trailer before we saw â€śthe sceneâ€ť. Lo and behold however people came to their senses eventually and realized that moaning can also be an expression of pain or struggle – and no Iâ€™m not talking about that kind of pain and struggling. Oh how the minds of gamers delve to the deepest fathoms of sweet perversion all too often. Shouldnâ€™t embracing oneâ€™s openness also apply to being open-minded in other subjects however? You know like with when someone, man or woman, tumbles down some jagged rocks it probably hurts like hell? Oh but this wasnâ€™t the real problem anyway, was it? Letâ€™s adjourn from this folly and hit the real issue shall we?
Lara Croft gets raped! Oh wait, no, she doesnâ€™t. I mean if I saw the same trailer everyone else has it looks to me like she almost gets raped, and weâ€™re talking barely almost. Now I donâ€™t agree with there being no rape connotation as Darrell Gallagher has nowÂ publiclyÂ apologized for stating. If that was the case then Laraâ€™s first kill was executed in response to a very poorly thought out prank. I am however concerned with the swift general response being to shun anything negatively realistic when itâ€™s portrayed in a game. Not every title should be fashioned with happy endings in mind, and developers surely canâ€™t read every gamerâ€™s minds and make everything satisfy their exact preference. Actually when you consider that this all occurred in about ten seconds of a three and a half minute trailer for a potentially 5-6 hour game (if Crystal Dynamics follows Unchartedâ€™s example in all aspects), it seems hasty to assume that this is indicative of anything in the story other than merely being one of many struggles that must be overcome. Judgment is already being cast based on a fraction of a game that we only know even less about. Â Yet it was enough to spark the meat and potatoes of this supposed outrage.
People are seriously questioning how Lara can possibly complete her transformation from a substance-less British accent with two sets of guns to a legitimate human protagonist who overcomes adversity now? People are claiming that she is being victimized and this ruins any credence toward putting her in the spotlight as a respectable leading lady. Is it not more ignorant to suggest that women who might be targeted in such a way in cannot simultaneously still be strong and overcome to achieve greater things? People are so concerned with the fact that they are being led to believe the only way Lara can survive in her story of origin is if we protect her like the fragile vulnerable darling that she is. Canâ€™t a character just get some old fashioned development so people can follow her story in a more fulfilling manner like in the old days? This situation is just a couple of steps away from the same gamers who whined about the Mass Effect 3 ending demanding Crystal Dynamics dress Lara in a string bikini yet give her a gatling gun with a garter belt of grenades so she can be an ass kicking sex symbol again who dares not invite a little poignancy and conflict into our experience.
Here I was hoping that taboo subject matter was starting to see more acceptance into our beloved media platform, especially when it involves introducing a little bit of realism. Atlus was praised for putting a character like Kanji Tatsumi in Persona 4 because of his inner struggle with his sexuality which not only is something very prevalent in our world, but it is something that takes a degree of courage to come to terms with much like the subject of rape or even attempted rape. Even transvestites were welcomed into the current generation of gaming as important supporting characters when Enchanted Arms for the Xbox 360 was released; and for those who played it donâ€™t even lie and say Makoto wasnâ€™t the coolest character we couldnâ€™t play as.
But I see, weâ€™re only condemning realism in gaming if they are of negative subtext. Ignoring these issues will fix everything, right? From the perspective of a story teller cutting out elements that may or may not be offensive to some people can limit the overall depth and direction of their creation; from the perspective of those who are experiencing the story we have the free will to not partake in a game if we donâ€™t wish to play it because of something that bothers us. Something like attempted rape may not give us the feelings of rainbows and butterflies, but not everything in life is or should be that way. Itâ€™s my hope that one day the percentage of those within the gaming community who will view this from an objective point of view will increase.
Something not receiving nearly as much backlash is the idea of a barely legal high school cheerleader prancing around in seashell bikinis and other awesomely revealing outfits chainsawing zombies in half. Now I love Julietâ€™sâ€¦umâ€¦pom poms the same as the next guy, but I doubt Iâ€™d hear anyone saying she makes a more dynamic female protagonist than Lara Croft. How about at the end of The Witcher 2 when soldiers go on a raping spree of female sorcerers amidst the chaos of a council gone wrong (not to mention the multitude of nudity and prostitution)? I guess as long as the person being accosted isnâ€™t an integral part to the game itâ€™s no big deal, even if the actual deed was done as opposed to Lara who was touched over the clothes for a fraction of a minute. It also seems to remain more than acceptable for leading women to objectify themselves willingly as long as they have a giant weapon in their hands. Not that I have a personal problem with any of the above in my games, but a little common sense and consistency with the nature of everyoneâ€™s gripes from game to game would be appreciated.
Finally for those claiming that this is happening to Lara because of the personality she was given and the moments of weakness we see in the trailer, rape certainly doesnâ€™t discriminate between whoâ€™s easier and who might pose more of a challenge. A better prepared female in the eyes of a rapist may deter to the extent a â€śbeware of dogâ€ť sign might deter a burglar, there is never a guarantee. Letâ€™s take one of my favorite characters in all forms of media and the best example of the strong willed alpha-woman in any game, The Boss. She is furthest from the sexualized image women typically receive in gaming, and the only moment in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater that she reveals any skin is to show a scar on her body caused from giving birth on the battlefield. Does any of this give her a free pass on the possibility of being targeted as a potential rape victim however? People may try and fail more miserably than gunshot-in-the-head dude did with Lara (much more miserablyâ€¦like get all fingers broken and their trachea crushed), but slap a pair of handcuffs on her and sheâ€™s the same condition Lara was.
Social status, mental will-power, age, manner of dress, and talents mean very little to differentiate the ability to ward off being kidnapped, handcuffed, and taken advantage of in real life by someone determined enough. Sometimes gender doesnâ€™t even play a huge part in it. I hate to sound like a broken record but this is hardly as blasphemous as so many are making it out to seem. Alas when an opportunity arises for gamers to feel upset or offended by something, even if they arenâ€™t genuinely sympathetic, itâ€™ll be seized. For those truly offended by this 10 second slice of a trailer and donâ€™t have any faith in the rest of the game not being a deranged slew of S&M, rape, and other forms of debauchery a solution to this is simple: donâ€™t play the game.