Lara Croft’s appearance in Rise of the Tomb Raider is a long way from her unrealistically proportioned origins back in 1996.
Rhianna Pratchett, lead writer on Rise of the Tomb Raider, releasing November 10 on Xbox One and Xbox 360, says that this past sexualization of the Lara Croft character was mostly for marketing purposes. Speaking to TalkRadio AM640, she explained how such an approach is now very much a thing of the past. “The way Lara is marketed now is not sexualized,” she said. “It’s still beautiful, it’s still strong, it’s still characterful, but it’s not sexualized in the way it was done before.”
We’re seeing a rise in the number of strong female leads in games, such as Emily Kaldwin in the upcoming Dishonored 2 and Aloy in Guerilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn. Pratchett says this shows a realization among developers that there is actually a big market for female-led games.
Pratchett admits that the past marketing of Lara Croft actually turned her off the long-running series as a young gamer. “To be fair, a lot of the sexualization of Lara in the past has been solely for purposes of marketing, and it had a huge sway,” she said. “As a young female gamer, I’ll admit that I was put off by that kind of marketing of Lara. It was very much like, ‘Hey I’m being sexy for boys here.’ I thought … I’ll go and play another game, then. That’s definitely something that’s very, very much in the past.”
Pratchett, who also wrote the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, explained that Lara Croft’s new, more realistic image was part of the reason she signed on to the project.
“They’re showing you who she is as a person, rather more than who she is as an object,” said Pratchett. “She’s strong, she’s capable, she’s empathetic, she’s intelligent. She’s all kind of things we think of as sexy in the real world. So it’s not like she’s not a sexy character, but she’s just not sexualized, which is the difference.”