Lara Croft, every geeks first cyber girlfriend and female aspirational badass has a new changed image. This new Lara, scruffy, less polished and smaller bosomed is also more vulnerable.
According to Kotaku, you’ll ‘want to protect’ the new Lara. Executive producer Ron Rosenberg reckons this new Lara will make you feel like you are her help her – to protect her through her challenges.
“The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear,” he said. “She literally goes from zero to hero… we’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.”
And the term “break her down again has some awful consequences for the action girl.
She is taken prisoner.
Her best friend is captured
Her captors try to rape her
“She is literally turned into a cornered animal,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s forced to either fight back or die.”
I’m staggered. What a weak and insensitive plot line.
Now, one of the greatest female icons for women characters in gaming is now going to be put through a ‘development phase’ in the game that includes attempted rape – something that only a tiny percentage of men will EVER experience, nor will most understand the impact on another human being.
And the actions are being glorified as part of the ‘New woman’ that is Lara Croft. There are so many ways to build a character. It does not have to be through rape. Does she really have to be a survivor of a rape attempt?
Lara was the original sexy strong woman. Now the makers have tried to weaken her by subjecting her to behaviour that will not resonate with male game players. Nor did it resonate with the (predominantly male) game designers – I bet a female was not in the lead developer team for this.
Until we get more women developers into gaming, this stereotyping will continue to occur – and the next generation of gamers will come to assume that this type of portrayal of women is the norm.
This weakening of strong female icons should end. right now. Before we find we have none left to use as role models.
Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.