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Old 06-14-2012, 09:46 AM   #16
Icarus4578
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Whatever. It's just an interactive movie anyway. Not a true video game.
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Old 06-14-2012, 09:57 AM   #17
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Interesting topic, I was thinking of making one on this too, but based on a different article. One by The Guardian, which I will put in this post. It raises the point that the scene is used in a throw away fashion to make Croft especially vulnerable and the enemy especially evil. You should all read it, it raises seem very valid points, but on the whole I disagree:

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The Tomb Raider video game franchise, and its heroine Lara Croft, is 16 years, nine games, two films and at least one amusement park ride, old this year. Although Lara was originally best known for the remarkable size of her breasts – and that's still probably the first thing to spring to mind about her – she's grown into an interesting character, with plenty of adventures under her belt. And at the recent E3 conference developers Crystal Dynamics revealed a new, gritty version of Lara Croft's history – one that sees her bloodied, bruised, badly wounded, and forced to fight for her life against mercenaries, one of whom tries to rape her before she blows his head off.

The inclusion of the attempted rape scene raises some difficult questions. If the scene is playable, what exactly happens should the player fail? If it is not, why show it at all? Lara is already going through a lot – shipwreck, major injury, a friend's kidnapping, the threat of death – and adding sexual assault to the mix might just be over-egging the pudding.

Then there is the fact that rape is not a naturally occurring event like a rockfall, or a transformative one like a radioactive spider bite. In too much media, its use is a lazy shorthand that allows a writer to paint a bad guy as particularly bad, and a woman as particularly vulnerable (the genders are rarely reversed), without dealing with the consequences or meaning of such an act for any of the parties involved. That doesn't mean no storyteller or video game should ever tackle rape – of course they should, where a story demands it – but if the only reason to include sexual violence is to emphasise a woman's vulnerability or a man's evilness, then it's fair to question why a threat of murder is not enough.

The bigger question, in the case of Tomb Raider, is why the game's designers decided to make Lara Croft so vulnerable. In a recent interview with Kotaku, executive producer Ron Rosenberg said players want to protect Lara, and that the new game would break her down, put her through awful experiences, and make the players "root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character".

His statements take some unpacking, and for fans of the Tomb Raider series they're not encouraging. As a player, I don't remember having many problems projecting myself as Lara – and I don't particularly want an avatar in a game that needs protecting. Players aren't expected to want to protect Nathan Drake in Uncharted, or John Marston in Red Dead Redemption, or Max Payne – so why Lara? Rosenberg seems to suggest it's because she's female – and it's hard to see that as anything other than a sexist approach, an assumption that men can't lose themselves in stories with female protagonists and/or that female gamers simply don't exist.

He also says she's forced to suffer such horrors that she "literally turns into a cornered animal". I hope it turns out that Lara's been a werewolf all this time – but I suspect he means that her character and spirit come under such attack that she's reduced to fight-or-flight responses. The Lara Croft of previous games has generally been intelligent, witty, resourceful and ingenious, as well as athletic, strong and skilful. Lara has always been a pragmatic survivalist with a keen sense of adventure; to decide that she needs to be tortured in order to be able to kill goes against what we know of her history and personality so far.

The idea that Lara – like Samus from Metroid – should have an origin story in which she is weak in order to explain her strength is difficult to swallow. Male characters are generally permitted to be strong without needing a back story in which they are broken – why should female characters be different? Why do we need to protect Lara through an awful ordeal for her strength to make sense? Judging by the comments on Kotaku and elsewhere, I'm not the only one who shares these concerns.

It is rare that strong women characters get to be protagonists in video games – and that's part of the problem. If there were a multitude of women whose stories were told well – flawed, brilliant, good, evil, strong, weak and everything in between – the mischaracterisation of one would not have such an impact. Lara Croft has never been without design problems (or presumably back pain), but to adjust her appearance while smashing her characterisation into smithereens would rather miss the point of all the criticism. I'm hoping, but not expecting, that this is a savage case of mis-marketing and that Crystal Dynamics has made a well-written, sensitively done story, that doesn't turn an iconic female character into a helpless wreck in the name of an edgy reboot. We'll have to wait and see.
Mary Hamilton, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...t-rape-attempt

Left a response in the comments, so I'll just paste it here.

I think what the video game industry can take from this article is that there's absolutely no point in trying to win over the press or the critics, because they're always going to reject something about what is being made, whether it's the integrity, content, or ambitions.

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The inclusion of the attempted rape scene raises some difficult questions. If the scene is playable, what exactly happens should the player fail? If it is not, why show it at all?
Are those really difficult questions? Let me try and address them. If the player fails to overcome the attempted rape, if it is playable (which, like in Heavy Rain, will probably be done via quick time events), maybe it can end in a game over screen. Because the game over screen isn't a metaphor, symbolism or subliminal message. It's literally a 'You did not progress in the way which the developers wanted you to, so you need to do that bit again' screen; it's not a 'You just got raped and rape victims are losers lol' screen, which I fear you may have been suggesting was the intent should that be the case. Secondly, you ask if the attempted rape scene is not playable, then why should it be shown at all. Probably for the same reason they're shown in films: to portray a particular type of heinousness in the character attempting the rape. The same reason you conclude, as you know, lazy (which I don't understand, personally, as these people are supposed to be isolated pirates or something, right, and isn't it typical of these types of villains as brutal and barbarian-esque?). You also suggest that this shows a woman as particularly vulnerable, which I also don't understand. Why does it show her as particularly vulnerable? I don't want to seem stupid or anything, but I really don't understand why this makes her seem vulnerable, or synonymously, particularly weak? That doesn't cross my mind at all. Yes, I think of the character attempting the rape as particularly brutal, immoral, etc, but I don't think of the character suffering the attempted rape as weak or especially vulnerable.

Quote:
Then there is the fact that rape is not a naturally occurring event like a rockfall, or a transformative one like a radioactive spider bite. In too much media, its use is a lazy shorthand that allows a writer to paint a bad guy as particularly bad, and a woman as particularly vulnerable (the genders are rarely reversed), without dealing with the consequences or meaning of such an act for any of the parties involved.
Well, murder isn't a naturally occurring event either, but you seemed to enjoy the other Tomb Raiders enough, without concerning yourself too much about the effect of Lara Croft's endless rampage of murder on the poor families of all of those henchmen.

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That doesn't mean no storyteller or video game should ever tackle rape – of course they should, where a story demands it – but if the only reason to include sexual violence is to emphasise a woman's vulnerability or a man's evilness, then it's fair to question why a threat of murder is not enough.
I mean, same point really. Should there only ever be murder when it's there to explore the effects of murder?

Quote:
The bigger question, in the case of Tomb Raider, is why the game's designers decided to make Lara Croft so vulnerable. In a recent interview with Kotaku, executive producer Ron Rosenberg said players want to protect Lara, and that the new game would break her down, put her through awful experiences, and make the players "root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character"
.

It's this particular paragraph that makes me suggest video game designers just stand firm and carry on. The problem with video games and the reason they've been endlessly lambasted by critics and journalists is because there is no realism to these hulking, cardboard characters. They are endlessly strong, endlessly heroic and always victorious. I suggest the reason they've made Lara Croft more vulnerable in this iteration is to fit with the obvious concept of a more realistic approach to tackling the character. Isn't it good that we get to see the character who thus far has been a boring demi-God in a more human way, where she doesn't fall through a tree and get right back up again brushing it off as a flesh wound, etc? I want to see her vulnerable and hurt, just like I do any character in any art. I want them to be a bit more believable.

Quote:
As a player, I don't remember having many problems projecting myself as Lara – and I don't particularly want an avatar in a game that needs protecting
.

Perhaps you and I want different things from the medium. If you want a throwaway bit of entertainment then I guess this is probably for you; I personally would like to see the medium evolve into an art, which it is striving to become.

Quote:
He also says she's forced to suffer such horrors that she "literally turns into a cornered animal". I hope it turns out that Lara's been a werewolf all this time – but I suspect he means that her character and spirit come under such attack that she's reduced to fight-or-flight responses. The Lara Croft of previous games has generally been intelligent, witty, resourceful and ingenious, as well as athletic, strong and skilful. Lara has always been a pragmatic survivalist with a keen sense of adventure; to decide that she needs to be tortured in order to be able to kill goes against what we know of her history and personality so far
.

This bit I really don't get. If she was just as powerful in this prequel adventure as she is when she's, what, 10 years older, then what on Earth is the point in doing a prequel? We want to see how she started out and how she developed into the master of, er, tomb raiding, that she is. I like that she's raw and untrained and has to turn to her instincts to survive. And quite in fact this does fit with the other games that have recently decided to explore their main character's origins. Such as Devil May Cry in which we see a reckless Dante acting like a very typical teenager stereotype, or how about Final Fantasy (the one for the PSP, can't remember what it was called) in which we see the beloved Cloud from Final Fantasy VII turned into a mere soldier of no particularly special attributes? I'm sure there are plenty more examples of more vulnerable male characters.

The attempted rape entirely fits with the context of the game. With a semblance of realism and a gritty approach, it seems authentic enough to suggest that these immoral, barbaric men would attempt rape under these circumstances. I don't believe the scene seems to be used to titillate the player or demean the character. I see no problem with it.

One point I would concern myself with though is indeed the developer's comments. They seem a little more controversial and harder to defend.

PS- I don't actually expect many of you to bother reading the entirety of this rambling post, but do read the article and comment, please.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:04 AM   #18
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"Perhaps you and I want different things from the medium. If you want a throwaway bit of entertainment then I guess this is probably for you; I personally would like to see the medium evolve into an art, which it is striving to become."

What are you saying? That by adding an attempted rape scene, Tomb Raider has now become a work of art?
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarus4578 View Post
"Perhaps you and I want different things from the medium. If you want a throwaway bit of entertainment then I guess this is probably for you; I personally would like to see the medium evolve into an art, which it is striving to become."

What are you saying? That by adding an attempted rape scene, Tomb Raider has now become a work of art?
Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:16 AM   #20
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Well that's just stupid. By that measure, Custer's Revenge for the Atari 2600 is a masterpiece: you're a cowboy whose objective is to rape a native American Indian.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:16 AM   #21
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Remember shes 16 here. What can make someone go from a teenage girl to someone who kills others without a second thought like in the later games? Attempted rape would make anyone want blood. So it does work out with her character.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:17 AM   #22
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So then it's a typical revenge ploy. Nothing revolutionary about it, much less artistic.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:20 AM   #23
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Well that's just stupid. By that measure, Custer's Revenge for the Atari 2600 is a masterpiece: you're a cowboy whose objective is to rape a native American Indian.
I'd hoped my sarcasm would come through. The bit you quoted me on was in direct reply to a quote I had included from the article (as is clear). The writer had a problem (obviously from a feminist perspective) with Lara Croft being shown as vulnerable. I was suggesting if video games want to evolve into an art then characters cannot remain always heroic, omnipotently strong and endlessly victorious.

The segment you quoted from me wasn't about the attempted rape scene or even about Tomb Raider. Merely about why vulnerability in character is essential. Just to clarify: Tomb Raider certainly isn't art as I recognise art.

PS- I have an argument about why it's important these types of scenes be included in video games, even if done in a hamfisted and gaudy way, based on the evolution of cinema and why exploitation cinema was important as a catalyst for that. But that's not for here.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:27 AM   #24
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Thanks for clarifying your position. I don't have an issue with story-telling devices like this but it's obvious that the developers highlighted this particular scene in order to generate cheap buzz for the product. That's what I take issue with.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:28 AM   #25
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Rapelay is also a work of art.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:30 AM   #26
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That seems like a valid criticism, and interesting, because it chimes with that MoH controversy last week, in which there was some contention with how some perceived the developers (rightly or wrongly) to be marketing the game as an authentic battlefield experience. It seems that maybe the game developers and marketers cause more controversy than the actual games.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:39 AM   #27
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I assume the intent of any story is to invoke an emotional reaction. Now that piece from the Guardian that is quoted misses the point, which is no surprise as that publication is extremely politically correct. They go through great lengths to project their stilted logic as some kind of objective truth.

As always they try to make the issue bigger than it really is by pretending videogame storylines are some socially relevant issue but just to tackle their main 2 mistaken assumptions: the fact that men and women aren't different and that pointing out any difference is 'sexism' when ofcourse both genders are different. It's simply evolutionary hardwired into our instinct, no amount of social conditioning from the extreme feminist agenda will change that.

Second is that rape happens. It's simply an undeniable and unfortunate reality that women can fall prey to such invasion on their physical integrity. Then being upset and again accusing the developers for being 'sexist' by taking a woman as a rape example is just ridiculous and ignores the whole point of the emotional impact it is supposed to represent.

So should realistic(not to be equated with natural) portrayal of human behavior no matter how undesired be depicted within the context of a storyline of a videogame? I think so because the interactivity can heighten the emotional impact in ways no other medium can. Can the developers do it in a way that it has relevance on the plot and the character development of Lara? Then indeed I agree with Ernst it can be considered 'art'.

Though to be honest I never thought to be having these kind of discussions about a Tomb Raider game :p
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Old 06-14-2012, 11:25 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by KingOfSentinels View Post
Exactly. It's a strong, emotional thing and if handled well I'm sure it'll be a great part of the story and for her character. Didn't hear anyone cry on Watchmen when the Comedian tries to rape Silk Spectre because that's a good moment in the movie, shows what a bastard he can be, it was strong.
Watchman movie? You mean that Zack Snyder Hollywood shovel, graphic novel where it's at.

Talking about rape scenes, I didn't hear any fuss when that female german mercenary/soldier chick raped you (the male character) in Alpha Protocol. Is it because it's a female rapist?
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Old 06-14-2012, 03:53 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by stroopwafel View Post
I assume the intent of any story is to invoke an emotional reaction. Now that piece from the Guardian that is quoted misses the point, which is no surprise as that publication is extremely politically correct. They go through great lengths to project their stilted logic as some kind of objective truth.

As always they try to make the issue bigger than it really is by pretending videogame storylines are some socially relevant issue but just to tackle their main 2 mistaken assumptions: the fact that men and women aren't different and that pointing out any difference is 'sexism' when ofcourse both genders are different. It's simply evolutionary hardwired into our instinct, no amount of social conditioning from the extreme feminist agenda will change that.

Second is that rape happens. It's simply an undeniable and unfortunate reality that women can fall prey to such invasion on their physical integrity. Then being upset and again accusing the developers for being 'sexist' by taking a woman as a rape example is just ridiculous and ignores the whole point of the emotional impact it is supposed to represent.

So should realistic(not to be equated with natural) portrayal of human behavior no matter how undesired be depicted within the context of a storyline of a videogame? I think so because the interactivity can heighten the emotional impact in ways no other medium can. Can the developers do it in a way that it has relevance on the plot and the character development of Lara? Then indeed I agree with Ernst it can be considered 'art'.

Though to be honest I never thought to be having these kind of discussions about a Tomb Raider game :p
Haha. I'm a massive Starbucks drinking, Apple lovin' Guardianista, so I dispute your criticism of the paper's content, although it does have it's fair share of contributors who are very PC.

On your post, though, I entirely agree with your second point, and I think you articulated it very well. The only defense the game needs, I think, is that this isn't some sort of anomalie, it is human behaviour and perfectly plausible in that scenario. You're quite right. Your first point is more complex, and gender roles, etc, are so difficult to properly explain, so to avoid sparking a sociological debate, I'll just say on the whole I agree with your post!
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Old 06-14-2012, 03:58 PM   #30
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I think it was Tomb Raider II she would get in a little 4 wheeler thing and I would bounce her against walls and I liked how she bounced up and down.
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