Quotes on the new Lara Croft: Multi-dimensional and still sexy

The Tomb Raider logo is on the right, and a facial picture of a dirty, brown haired Lara Croft is on the left.

Lara Croft is a video gaming icon who has been notoriously known for being a sexualized female that appeals to the male gaze while kicking some serious ass.  Crystal Dynamics have been tasked with her redesign, and they met up with GameInformer to talk about their design decisions behind the new Lara Croft.

All of the character design decisions came from trying to make her believable. We didn’t want to make her a sexual object. She is a character that we want you to believe in.

We did some initial tests where we brought in the vision for the new Lara Croft, and then we matched it up against the previous iterations. In the tests of the previous iterations it was clearly evident that people moved around the image more to the items and her chest and her waist size. But with the new image, people spent most of the time piercing her eyes. Anybody who has seen the image says “I know that girl.”

The bone structure was important, but we also didn’t want to get a model that was too sculpted. We wanted a little bit of that baby fat – just a little bit of roundness on the face to give her that more youthful look.

As far as sex appeal, we are always thinking about making a character that people want to play, and part of that is a level of attractiveness and being drawn to Lara. But we don’t want to play up sexuality for sexualities sake.

Lara is a lover of archeology and she has these book smarts. Her brains are another huge part of her sex appeal. She is an attractive girl who doesn’t play up her looks, but she is super smart and she is very ambitious.

Ultimately, what I think is going to be compelling about this – and what our version of sexy is – is the toughness through adverse conditions. Seeing her survive through these moments. Her skin is still bare on the arms and there are going to be rips and tears on her clothes, but it won’t be about being revealing. It’s a way of saying that through these tough situations, there is a beauty and vulnerability coming through. I think that is sexy in its own way. There is a different tone we are going for across the board, and Lara Croft as a sex object isn’t our goal. No unlockable bikinis.

We had goals of a realistic proportionality and a realistic wardrobe, and we wanted them to feel more like clothing – not an outfit. There is no such thing as an outfit for us. She is on this expedition and has practical clothing – cargo pants and layered tank tops and boots – because she is in and among a group that share the same values.

I wish I could personally hug this developer.  Designing a strong female lead character who sheds her previously sexualized persona and becomes a multifaceted character who wears clothing appropriate to her role within the game and has a little bit of baby fat?  This is how to make characters who can appeal to all gamers without alienating some of them.  Of course, we have to play the game to really see how they handle Lara Croft within the setting and script, but the thoughts behind her design are pretty spot-on.  Kudos to Crystal Dynamics!

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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15 Responses to Quotes on the new Lara Croft: Multi-dimensional and still sexy

  1. Lake Desire says:

    So much better than the last revamp of Lara Croft that was supposed to be realistic: http://www.lake-desire.com/newgameplus/?p=90

  2. Alex says:

    I totally cringed when they originally announced they wanted to appeal more to women with the new new (new?) Lara Croft, but it looks like they are actually going in a positive direction!

  3. Doug S. says:

    (And she actually looks like a person instead of a Barbie doll!)

  4. Bel says:

    I’ll play it.

  5. Shy says:

    Very thoughtful quotes. I hope the game is good, too.

  6. Allegra says:

    In theory, this is excellent news and they do certainly seem to be making all the right noises, but one or two of the things in the quotes above bother me.

    Specifically:

    “We wanted a little bit of that baby fat – just a little bit of roundness on the face to give her that more youthful look.”

    “It’s a way of saying that through these tough situations, there is a beauty and vulnerability coming through.”

    Both of which kinda set off alarm bells for me.

    ‘Baby fat’? ‘Beauty and vulnerability’? Aren’t we at the stage now where we can have women who look like women without them having to be vulnerable or infantilised?

    Still, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating on that one, I guess. I’d definitely be more inclined to buy it and give it the benefit of the doubt.

  7. j says:

    The new deisgn looks great (Laura is now a person) and I’m interested in Tomb Raider for the first time ever. However, there something that makes me slightly uneasy about the whole thing. She is attractive because she is vulnerable? You’d want to play to protect her, not play to be her?

  8. Nonny says:

    I think I’m in love.

    I might actually play this game.

  9. Ann says:

    I am cautiously optimistic about this reboot. A lot remains to be seen – as said in the article – as to how they deal with the 3D model and how the narrative and game design go (I.E., not making her dependent on a man for everything or setting her in the midst of interactions with a man who are abusive, yet she is happy in this format, like in another game, le sigh).

    @j This is the nuance between how the devs feel about her and, I suspect, how marketing approaches this while still aiming for the stereotypical 14-34 male white gamer. It is often considered inconceivable by marketing in general (not all, but um, mostly all?) that their target audience would actually want to play to _be_ a female character – hence the “you want to protect her” double-talk, essentially. How the devs see it and how marketing sees it = not alway the same thing, but devs have to work with marketing and know how marketing things to get things through the approval process to get to production, more often than not. Granted, depending on how much say marketing has on the whole process, but usually they have quite a bit of say.

  10. Laurentius says:

    Knowig what Lara Croft series looks like, it’s a huge step in right direction, I was going to write the she looks more like a swashbuckler then anything else but after a close inspection i noticed these ships at the bottom of the screen, i guess some pirate theme in her look is a conscious decision.

  11. Ikan says:

    I LOVE the new redesign of Lara Croft! It completely floored me when I first saw it, in a good way.

    I’m uneasy about how they still have to talk about how she’s “sexy,” even though it’s because she’s strong and smart and has survival skills, etc. Can’t we just have a woman who is cool and doesn’t always, in some way, have to be described as sexy? It seems like that word always gets thrown around women, and it’s hugely annoying. Guy characters are seen as cool, capable, etc., but women, even the awesomely designed women, are always in some way seen as sexy. Lame.

    Also: “vulnerable.” There is much FAIL surrounding their usage of it. People need to stop using that word for making women characters appealing, or they need to start using it more for the male ones to balance things out.

    Regardless, I don’t want to let that get in the way of my sheer enthusiasm for this game. I really loved Tomb Raider: Legend, and Lara Croft is a very cool character if she wasn’t always so overtly sexualized. Now they’ve finally turned her into a real person, and this new Lara, coupled with the awesome gameplay that the series is known for, is making this into one of my most-watched games for the future.

    Megaprops to Crystal Dynamics for unleashing the epic win of new game announcements! The last time I was this giddy for an upcoming title was when Square Enix revealed Lightning as the main protagonist for FFXIII. Whew–it’s nice to know I have more gaming awesome to look forward to once I’m done with FFXIII.

    If you people haven’t read the Game Informer cover story, by all means, GO and read it! If you’re any sort of fan of Tomb Raider or awesome female characters, that cover story and all its screenshots will make your day.

  12. 12Sided says:

    wow, I need to give these people money or something, hopefully get this better attitude to spread to more game developers. Looking forward to the new game

  13. Mirai says:

    The cover they used for GI kind of showed that they *really* got it this time. “We want her to appeal as a character, so we made her eyes the most captivating part about her.” Mission accomplished, since it shows her captivation as a character than as an object. Sorta the difference between Superman as a force because of his powers rather than Superman as a force because of *who he is*.

  14. Pai says:

    Wow, I’m floored. Lara looks incredible!

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