I found religion in ‘Tomb Raider’ reboot

When I first powered up my Xbox 360 in early 2014 to play “Tomb Raider,” I had no idea what I would be getting myself into, and how that one game would reshape my love of video games forever.

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As ridiculous as that might sound, I owe a lot of my love of video games to that reboot and the powerful connection I formed with the new and improved Lara Croft character. Before “Tomb Raider,” “Skyrim” and “Assassin’s Creed” were the only games that saw regular use on my Xbox.

I had a copy of “Halo: Reach” that I never played after I beat the main storyline and I also had a “Just Dance” 2000 something that I played only in the company of friends or at parties. I hadn’t picked up Rocksteady’s “Arkham Asylum” yet (lightly used from a GameStop near my house, years after the release date) or Bethesda’s “Fallout 3,” which would go on to become my second favorite game next to the 2013 “Tomb Raider.”

At that time, I considered myself a casual gamer. I enjoyed the immersion video games offered me, and the escape from reality and the clarity those games brought me with their intense goal-oriented, single-minded focus.

But all that was to change with the Crystal Dynamics reboot of “Tomb Raider.”

The 2013 game was my first exposure to gaming’s bravest and bustiest video game heroine, so I have no platform on which to compare the reboot with older versions of the game. Besides a vague cultural acknowledgement of Lara Croft’s spiky boobs and archaeological adventures, I had no idea how problematic/inspiring her character was, nor how influential and deeply rooted she was in the gaming world.

After buying the game on four separate platforms and beating it at least half a dozen times, I can divide my experience with video games into before and after categories.

Before “Tomb Raider,” I wasn’t aware of the bias and inherent sexism rampant in the industry.

After, I was.

Before “Tomb Raider”, I didn’t know that the game’s lead writer, Rhianna Pratchett, and her team had created a Lara Croft that was a painfully obvious outlier in a culture filled with the macho men of “Assassin’s Creed,” “Dead Space” and “Grand Theft Auto.”

Before “Tomb Raider,” I was barely a gamer.

After, I took on a whole new attitude toward video games, one that has informed my career decisions and influenced me in a myriad of ways that I’m still beginning to parse out for myself.

I found religion in the “Tomb Raider” reboot, one that begins and ends with Lara Croft’s feminist representation. I believe future titles should look to the 2013 reboot as an example of how strong female characters can be created and incorporated into the hypermasculine gaming culture. Not only is it entirely possible, as the 2013 game shows, but it is highly beneficial in creating a platform for female audiences and allowing them to have a voice in a booming industry that is due, in part, to their increasing demographic participation.

This blog, “Cosmetics and Consoles,” is my way of finding out how I fit into a video game culture dominated by men and how I can help fan the flame of video game love in girls like me. “Tomb Raider” gave me the will and desire to become a video game writer and designer, something I decided for myself at the tender age of sixteen and still hope and pray for even now that I’m nearing twenty. The game also helped me realize my potential as a feminist voice in today’s new media, something I long kept buried to avoid upsetting others that disagree with my opinions.

Last semester, I wrote a paper for my freshmen English 105 class at UNC-Chapel Hill. In it, I described three problematic aspects of the traditionally male dominated gaming industry and how Lara Croft in the 2013 reboot has and will continue to fight these problems. This paper combined my love of video games and my feminist ideals in a way that defined my wants and desires and goals and dreams for the video game industry, for female representation as a whole and for my own future career path.

This blog will address things I learned in the process of writing that paper combined with commentary on the progress of video games and the mechanics, features and aesthetics of new titles as well as some of my favorites. If there’s a specific video game you want to talk about, or a question you’d like to ask me, leave a comment below or get in touch with me via the contact page of this blog!

Game on and let the power of Lara Croft be with you.

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4 thoughts on “I found religion in ‘Tomb Raider’ reboot

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