Tomb Raider dev talks gender, says the industry still has some growing up to do

Wednesday, 5th December 2012 10:40 GMT By Dave Cook

Tomb Raider art director Brian Horton has discussed the rebooted Lara’s position as the game’s leading lady, and has suggested that too-few games place emphasis on their leading ladies. Horton has also discussed ‘that’ scene, and the issues of femininity and vulnerability surrounding Crystal Dynamics’ lead.

Speaking with CVG, Horton noted the lack of female leads in games contributing to the challenge of writing a strong leading lady, yet praised BioWare’s attempts – to a degree.

“I think that’s what’s really great about Mass Effect for instance: you can choose to be female Shepard. You can choose to make the protagonist a heroine, but that’s not the way they market the game, right? It’s marketed as the male Shepard. So for our game, Lara stands alone in an industry of AAA third-person action games, in that it has the female hero.

“The challenge for us is, that now we’re making it more realistic, it starts to conjures up different emotions in people. They’re playing as Lara and she’s struggling – you have a mixed emotion.

“Before she was really just an expression of male energy in a female body. Now she’s both female and feminine, but at the same time very strong, has that inner strength, has those smarts – the things you associate with Lara Croft – but also with a little more texture.”

On the issue of ‘new’ Lara’s vulnerable state in the reboot – which Brenna has discussed at length in her latest feature – Horton admitted that there was a challenge between making her vulnerable without her feeling vulnerable just because she’s female.

He added, “We’re making her vulnerable because it’s her first adventure, and she happens to be a women. That’s the distinction.”

In regards to the ‘rape’ outcry surrounding early Tomb Raider footage, Horton downplayed the suggestive tones of said scene and stated that while those particular accusations where wrong, the industry still has a way to go when tackling mature themes.

In regards to Lara killing her first enemy, and the way it puts her on the path to becoming the hero we know, Horton added, “As an industry we’ve grown up, but not enough to do everything you can do in films or TV. We made a conscious decision to make a bold storytelling choice and gameplay choice, to give that scene more emotional weight. We don’t shy away from the choices we made.”

What’s your view? Is new Lara’s vulnerability damning towards female heroes in games, or have we not seen enough of her transformation into the hero we know to make a call? Discuss below.

Thanks OXM.



  1. Kabby

    British toff accent. Not wearing many clothes. Thin, unrealistic proportions. Covered in dirt and sweat but still a face full of make-up. Large pert tits and ass. Not much seems to have changed externally.

    I guess it’s all about the virtual acting and how much you buy into it.

    One thing I would say though, is her face in game looks far more oriental/final fantasy styled than the out of game artwork portrays. It’s a little weird.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. silkvg247

    I’m liking the looks of the new Lara so far.

    @1 I’m assuming her clothing will match the climate, I don’t know many chicks who would wear much in hot weather. If it’s set in a cold climate then I’ll question it though..

    I also think it’s unrealistic to expect the industry to cast fat/ugly main characters anytime soon – that applies to male AND female leads so it’s not a sexism issue, rather more of a society issue.

    Also it’s realistic that Lara would be toned as she is a physically active character.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Ireland Michael

    @1 You have a warped view of women if you think the Lara in this is of unrealistic proportions. There’s a difference between looking sexy and looking like a blind male fantasy.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Kabby

    My view isn’t warped at all I just have some disdain for how humans are rendered with today’s art tools and engines. Watch some more videos of the game in action.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. mongbatstar

    Lara seems fairly proportional, the clothing seems to suit the environment, plus the blue tank top has really been something iconic about the whole series.

    I really think you’re looking too deeply into this, they’ve modeled Lara to be attractive, like other industries might, but not ridiculously disproportionate as you suggest.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Ireland Michael

    @4 I have, and all I see is a physically capable looking young woman of fairly standard proportions and realistic attractiveness.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. roadkill

    @6 Oh stop it! I have never seen someone more whipped in my entire life. You are the the most pathetic male I know. Get a sex change operation already. F**k!

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Ireland Michael

    @7 You’re funny.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. zinc

    I guess to keep certain groups happy, Crystal Dynamics should include a *fat* Lara Croft skin, thus allowing those who feel their base hetro male desires are being pandered too, to change the overterly sexual Lara, with a button press…

    Unless of course they like fat chicks.

    On Topic, The sex of Lara is not important, I like the fact the character starts off vulnerable & toughen’s up over time. Usually your character is badass from the get-go.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. PEYJ


    Agreed. I find the “the industry needs to grow up, and this can ONLY happen, if the lead character is a female”-shite defeating it’s purpose: to obtain a “equal rights” attitude for men and women in the industry (and the world…).

    I always liked Lara Croft because of the solitude she seeks and obtains through her self destructive endeavors. It’s the person behind the character first and foremost, not the woman.

    #10 2 years ago

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