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!