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Lara Croft: Trailblazing a Future for Female Protagonists

Plus XP contributors Travis and Simon write "In the past there have been very few examples of female lead characters in games, let alone complex and well-written ones. The gaming world was, and to an extent still is, a male-orientated society and larger titles played to this demographic. Many video games were primarily made to entertain a male audience and female characters suffered as a result, becoming generic, to the point of being sickeningly stereotypical. Generally, women in games fell into one of very few set roles; be it the damsel in distress or scantily dressed sidekick, these were the parts the characters had to play and the players had to endure. However, easy access to mobile and handheld gaming has helped instigate a shift towards the mainstream; video games are no longer seen as just a pastime for the hermit in his mum’s basement. The gaming industry needs to catch up with this shift and adapt to the modern world, leaving behind the backwards idea that, in the end, the male’s story is always more important. Now, in the form of Lara Croft, the industry may have taken its first steps to achieving just that."

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Myst1728d ago

This was actually a rather good read and I must applaud the others for writing this. Though I can feel some will probably be tired of hearing/reading "Female Protagonist" type of work here in the coming days due to Tomb Raider; but the game truly has been amazing and brings forth the possibility and hope that other games will follow suit. Giving females a more promising role in games like this.

admiralvic1727d ago (Edited 1727d ago )

Maybe I am missing the point, but Tomb Raider has been around for generations / decades, so I don't see why this game is "trailblazing" or even worth noting. There have been solid females in the past and some of them have had complex backstories. Maybe she's "less" sexualized in this version, but they're still largely the same.

Myst1727d ago

The way I saw it earlier this morning was that the new Tomb Raider brings forth a chance to have a female character without being oversexualized. Giving them an interesting character development ( though a bit rushed at certain points? ) While reading this I did think about Jade from Beyond Good and Evil.

TuxedoMoon1727d ago

I'd argue that the new Tomb Raider re-ignited the interests for more female protagonists. Back in the nes era, there weren't a lot of female leads...that weren't getting kidnapped. Alice from Phantasy Star and Samus from Metroid did exist in that era, but didn't really spark much talk or controversy. When The first tomb raider happened, that really caused other game developers to look into making more female leads and there was a steady increase. From Joana Dark, Shion/Kos-mos, to Faith, Bayonetta, and Lightning there was an increase in strong female lead characters.

Although most Fighting game girls don't have strong back stories and are made to be super sexy or pretty, I'd say that I haven't seen a game where those same females had to submit to a man. They weren't just eye candy, they were able to fight off the guys. Chun-li, Nina , Ayane...I didn't see them submit to a man. They did combos and beat the men up! Would giving them a great back story make it suddenly alright for them to wear tight/revealing clothes?

Anyway, this will only lead to more female lead characters...hopefully. I'm tired of always seeing the same male character type...especially when it's just a shaved head white guy. Star Killer, Wesker's son, Cole, Rigg (DOA5) Shapard...

gamer78041727d ago

I agree, but i'd like to see Lara turned into a stronger woman like she was in previous games, and less of just a killer.

admiralvic1727d ago

Terrible article and terrible point. I tried to read it so I could give a fair comment, but it felt like the point of the article is why we should care about Tomb Raider, over anything to do with Female Protagonists.

Like the fighting game remark, I only think of Dead or Alive when it comes to beach editions (cause it's the only fighter I know of that has done a beach edition...) and is the only one I think of when it comes to breast physics. Maybe other fighters contain them (honestly am watching the frames over jiggle), but even if they do contain said qualities, that's just a step towards realism (one that Dead or Alive fails at, though they have lower settings to keep it from being absurd). Additionally, most long term fighting games have girls come in various different sizes. Tekken has some "hot" girls and some "cute girls, just like Skullgirls has some creepy girls, sexy girls and even an ugly one. Other games like Arcana Hearts has girls in all shapes / sizes, just like Blazblue has Taokaka, platinum the trinity, tsubaki and more if you ignore Japanese promotional items.

As far as the overall article goes, do the people that fight this understand that girls come in different shapes / sizes or are we going to replace sexualized females with the picture perfect girls instead? I am sorry, but that's just as wrong as calling out any other stereotype / trope.

Some people are pathetic and constantly need saving, some people are cold with strong convictions, some people are clouded by their emotions and other people fall in other groups. Sure characters should be well rounded to be interesting, but there are plenty of characters that are almost completely 1 dimensional. This is not something unique to female characters, it's more of a commentary about the writing / story telling that appears in games. It's getting sad how many people seem to misunderstand this or use the worse examples as if it instantly makes their point valid.

Blacklash931727d ago (Edited 1727d ago )

I didn't get that from the article. It goes back to TR a lot because that's the example the article is all about.

The point is that Lara Croft is a well-developed character in her own right and doesn't fall into a cliche personality. She's very strong and vulnerable at the same time. She's friendly, but also ruthless and hardened when she has to be. She gets frightened by how easy it feels kill for her own survival. She's brilliant and insightful, but can make bad and reckless decisions in the heat of the moment. She's enduring, but doesn't always at full composure and can be shaken by trauma. She has interests, friends, likes and dislikes. That's a full personality for a character and not something most achieve, especially other female protagonists.

Female protagonists are often too focused on sex appeal and treated like barbie dolls you can dress up. They're shallow beyond their personality gimmick and middle ground between sweet, super-vulnerable and tomboy, hard-ass female protagonists can be hard to find, too. And when they're non-protagonist characters they are usually the magical sidekick or the intercom lady giving you orders.

Female protagonists like the new Lara can only be good for the industry. They help off-set the gaming industry's nasty overuse of tropes in favor of more unique and fleshed out characters. All that's left to see is if other developer's take after this example. Male protagonists should learn from this too, as they can have similar problems with their own set of cliches.

1727d ago