Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett wanted to craft a human story, not a story about being female – without robbing Lara Croft of her femininity.
“I didn’t want to just make Lara a male character with boobs. It is a human story at heart. But there are things – the language she uses, or the way that she interacts – that could be said to be more feminine,” Pratchett told Kill Screen.
“From a narrative standpoint we didn’t completely ignore that Lara is female. But we didn’t sort of yell it out either. It wasn’t all about that – being female. But we did bring it in, because it’s part of who she is. She is a young woman, so we wanted her to feel like a real young woman. That was one of the problems in the past with old Lara. It became all about her gender, particularly about her boobs. There is more to gender than what you have on the front of your chest.”
The writer was clear that by “feminine”, she didn’t mean vulnerable and frightened; those aspects of Lara’s character don’t come down to her gender, but to her humanity, something many video game protagonists lack.
“Male characters aren’t shown as being scared or vulnerable, why should female characters? Well, just because it hasn’t been done with male characters doesn’t make it wrong,” she said. “It’s probably more of a problem of the way we depict male characters.
“Female characters do get scrutinized more than male characters do, and in some ways can be seen as holding a banner up for female characters,” she added.
“A lot gets heaped on their shoulders. Lara Croft gets a lot more scrutiny than Nathan Drake does, as a female. Nobody talks about how well Nathan Drake is representing men, or male characters in games.”
Pratchett said the unequal representation of straight white men in video games isn’t an accurate representation of gamers or developers, and that at the moment, the industry is very narrow in its choice of characters.
“There’s a lot of scrutiny of female characters, so I imagine that there’d be a lot of scrutiny of any other ethnicity or sexual orientation. But you have to take the risks. There have to be the people that do take the risks. And it probably does have to be the big guys,” she concluded.
Tomb Raider is available on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.