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Sexual assault "categorically not a theme" in new Tomb Raider

[UPDATE: Kotaku stands by story] Crystal Dynamics studio head clears up any confusion surrounding the game's portrayal of Lara

UPDATE:GamesIndustry International has reached out to both Crystal Dynamics and Kotaku for further comments. A Crystal Dynamics spokesperson told us that executive producer Ron Rosenberg "misspoke." Meanwhile, Kotaku editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo related to us that the whole thing is "puzzling" and Kotaku stands by its story.

"Of course we're standing by it. Jason got it right. I understand that Crystal Dynamics wants to clarify that sexual assault is not a theme they're exploring in their game, but it's puzzling to have them describe a scene that looks like an attempted rape as an attempted rape one week and then to say it's not the next," he told us.

Original story:

Tomb Raider is getting overhauled with an interesting origins story for the new game from Crystal Dynamics. The game received plenty of buzz at last week's E3, but unfortunately for the game studio some comments in a Kotaku interview led to the idea that Lara is shown fighting off a rape. Studio head Darrell Gallagher has posted on the official Tomb Raider website to set the record straight.

"We had a great E3 with Tomb Raider and received a fantastic public and press response, with the game picking up numerous game of the show awards based on the new direction taken with the franchise. Unfortunately we were not clear in a recent E3 press interview and things have been misunderstood. Before this gets out of hand, let me explain," he wrote.

"In making this Tomb Raider origins story our aim was to take Lara Croft on an exploration of what makes her the character she embodies in late Tomb Raider games. One of the character defining moments for Lara in the game, which has incorrectly been referred to as an 'attempted rape' scene is the content we showed at this year's E3 and which over a million people have now seen in our recent trailer entitled 'Crossroads'. This is where Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time. In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly. Sexual assault of any kind of categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."

"We take great care and pride in our work and are focused on creating a release that will deliver meaningful storytelling, drama, and exciting gameplay. We're sorry this has not been better explained, we'll certainly be more careful with what is said in future."

Sexualized violence is a serious issue, and ironically the last controversy related to the issue also fell under the Square Enix banner with the controversial Hitman trailer. Developer IO Interactive has already stated that it wasn't its intention to "provoke people." Looking at this example, it's understandable that Crystal Dynamics would want to clarify the situation as quickly as possible.

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Latest comments (38)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
This will also be in response to an article in the Guardian

Which is a reasonably decent article, save for the fact that the writer appears to not have written to anyone at the publisher or developer to get information about the game.


Also, shockingly bad idea to have the press release behind an age-wall. :/

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 13th June 2012 10:29pm

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Liam Farrell9 years ago
Oh Crystal Dynamics, you and your hillarious attempts at realistic female characters. You should of just kept Lara the same monosyllabic, bra model she was in the original game
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Chris Tilton Composer, Chris Tilton Music9 years ago
It's hard to take the themes they are exploring seriously when the footage they showed us eventually had Lara just shooting a bunch of dudes in the face with a shotgun. Like so many other hyper-violent games that one rolls their eyes at, this one felt just as adolescent as the Tomb Raider games from the late 90s. Granted, none of us have played the game in full, and the right context could change things, but what they've shown seems pretty shallow to me.
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Show all comments (38)
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago

Gaming is just another form of entertainment IP. Like Opera, the theatre, books, movies, music and television.
They all take on the full range of human activity and the full range of human emotion.
Gaming doesn't.
This is just a sign of our immaturity.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Everiss on 14th June 2012 8:37am

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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 9 years ago
@Bruce and Andreas

I disagree with you both for the simple fact that these games can and more often than not do get into the hands of children. Unlike movies, the interaction behind the games makes the impact even more pronounced. They aren't watching just an hour or so of a story but, living 10 - 20 hours of a journey.

I think the dismissal of the worry expressed actually says more for the immaturity of those making the content.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
In a journey of 10 to 20 hours i can potentially witness the attempted rape of Lara Croft and then i can help her overcome it, deal with it and confront that issue. I can actually learn something from it.
Quoted for Truth. :)

Unless a game places someone into the character of a rapist (as some books have done), and as long as the game is mature in its outlook (that is, does not imply that the victim was "asking for it"), then I think the scope for development of such themes in a game is good.

Whether or not developers and writers in the games industry are mature enough to deal with these matters well is another matter entirely. Just like there's trashy books that use violence and sex to mask bad writing, so are there games that do the same.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
@ Peter Dwyer Books can be far, far worse than video games and have no age rating system whatsoever.
If we structured our society on the contingency that things might get into the hands of children then lots of things would be banned, like alcohol and motorised personal transportation.
FYI the bible, which some children are actually encouraged to read has “harlot” in it 48 times, “sodomite” 5 times, “fornicator” 5 times, “smite” 133 times, “kill” 208 times and “maim” 7 times.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development9 years ago
Hmm, I'd hardly say the Bible encourages rape and aggression given the typical response to it.

Of course we could argue till we're blue in the face, comparing books, plays, the experience of living in violent neighbourhoods and everything under the sun. But we're asking the wrong questions, it's not about what elements books and movies share, isn't it more about the potential effects it could have on society? If so, then let's focus on the effect, what we know and what we don't, otherwise it's just not going to shed light on anything.

I strongly believe that gaming can produce sophisticated experiences unachievable by books or film, but we'll have to wait a bit for it as it requires a great a mount of processing power.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D9 years ago
In the new Ghost Recon, I seem to recall a scene where soldiers are torturing and killing some villagers, and you have to decide whether to intervene. It's not presented to you as a choice, as such, but it's simply happening right in front of you while you're on your way somewhere else.

I'm with Andreas on this one.

Keldon, I'm not sure processing power has much to do with it - it's more an unwillingness, for whatever reason, to tackle the big issues.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D9 years ago
"FYI the bible, which some children are actually encouraged to read has “harlot” in it 48 times, “sodomite” 5 times, “fornicator” 5 times, “smite” 133 times, “kill” 208 times and “maim” 7 times."

Bruce, it also has "love" 334 times, "justice" 44 times, "peace" 470 times and "truth" 265 times.

So what, exactly, is your point?
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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University9 years ago

Sorry but there's a fundamental difference between a film, movie or a book tackling these subjects and a game doing so. The narrative forms allow the implications and the fall-out of actions and events to be explored. Games at the moment do not. What we're seeing at the moment are actions like attempted to rape (and assassin nuns for that matter) being used as a piece of cheap titillation for those of an adolescent mindset and then being forgotten about.

Not that games can't tackle these subjects -- they could and would probably make interesting and even thought-provoking games that actually did subjects like this justice if only the will was there. I honestly don't think it's a question of processing power either, as someone above mentioned. All it really needs is better writing and the will of developers to take a few risks and break out of this rut of unquestioning ultraviolence that the industry seems to be getting itself into.

I'm actually heartened to see these debates coming up ever more frequently. It shows that that gaming is in fact becoming more and more accepted as a mainstream creative artform and that content is coming under more scrutiny and under less of a 'all games are for kids and all games are bad' kneejerky kind of way.

The flipside of this is that the industry now has to learn that it can't get by just catering for adolescents (and those of an adolescent mindset) if it wants the medium to grow and mature. It seems to me that all new media go through this phase and it's just gaming's turn to 'come of age' as it were.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Colin McBride on 14th June 2012 12:39pm

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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development9 years ago
I'm thinking of the possibilities that computer intelligence opens up. We we can potentially create game worlds that have a clear goal and journey but totally unique path and even experience for each player. Ghost Recon is in the right lines, it shouldn't be presented as an explicit A or B choice, but just like that.

With more elaborate computer intelligence we could have scripts being created during play that are unique for each player. We would still be creating the core story and themes, but the AI could decide exactly how to communicate this to the user.

This gives way to evolving worlds, much like we have seen already, just much more intelligent and on a more involving scale.

Perhaps I'm being too theoretical, but there are technological advances outside of gaming that will inevitably find it's way into it. People are already trying it. And it's at that point that gaming can do some amazing things.

In regards to books, they have a great story telling power in that they leave the visualization up to the creative imagination of the reader. I still can't imagine how books like The Alchemist could ever be visually depicted in film with as great an effect as reading does.

Bringing this back to gaming, we can create unimaginable experiences. We can respond to and communicate with the user. Just imagine the point at which a game character can have a real conversation with a player? And just being understood. Once computers can pass the turing test, which they will with enough processing power, we will surpass the concept of choice and freedom and I believe we will enter into new territory. And if not, I'm sure we'll have fun trying to figure it out.
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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University9 years ago
@Andreas and @Keldon

Agree with both your points. The great thing about games is that there really are essentially few limits on what we can do with them in terms of the narrative content. I like to think of the industry at the same point as cinema was in the 1920s/30s -- just on the cusp of finding its feet as a true mainstream artform.

We just need the courage to explore it a bit more rather than making the same 3 or 4 games over and over again in my opinion.
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I wonder what difference and subtlety can be had if the Tomb Raider reboot was produced locally in UK. Or maybe there might not be a big difference :)
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Jeff Wilson9 years ago
"over a million people have now seen in our recent trailer entitled 'Crossroads'. This is where Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time. In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly. Sexual assault of any kind of categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."

Lara Croft was never 'forced' into killing humans or creatures unless she was defending herself or someone else and that includes all the latest trailers I have seen.

Crystal Dynamics clearly made a mistake including this smutty sexual molestation scene in order to provoke Lara Croft into killing someone. I would suggest Crystal Dynamics pay more attention to what exactly is considered 'Mature' in a Video Game in future. Especially, considering a large proportion of Tomb Raider fans are female. Are any of their Quality Assuarance Testers women ? They should be.

As a point of interest, in the original PS1 Tomb Raider (1996) the game only recommended that players of FIFTEEN years old or more should play it. And, the content today would seem mild to a six year old. But, it is still great fun to play anyway - even today. At least the consoles today have Parental restriction options and that is a good thing.

I wonder if in future it would be possible to deliver alternate content in a game depending on the regulatory level that can be set on a game before playing. This may appeal to some Parents who may have otherwise avoided buying a game for their family when they see the 'Mature' symbol on the game in the shopping mall.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend9 years ago
Is it me or has this site gone downhill recently?

I remember when there were great articles that didn't try to go all 'holier than thou' or 'You are a bad person if you don't agree with me' on its readers, yet there is now a trend towards articles that are obviously written to polarise opinion and create comment wars.

Of course there are issues that need to be sorted in every facet of life, but I do feel as if the unbiased feel that was present last year has been eroded somewhat in favour of pushing opinions and agendas.

But then again, me saying that obviously means I hate women and want to eat children. Sigh..
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University9 years ago
Exactly what I've been thinking recently Darren. There's definitely been an element of sensationalism creeping into the writing and there seems to be a story akin to "McDonalds chief thinks Burger King is overrated" at least once a week.

It's not that the stories cover the wrong topics; it's more that the conclusion has been drawn before the first comment is posted.
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+1 Darren & Anthony

Everything feels more like the Sun than the Times. Even worse, a lot of discussions got buried in a massive avalanche of new sub news, and some sub news got promoted to headline news. It's like trying to recreate top gear in US. I hate the polarised sensationalist articles instead of well balance unbiased, optioning and news pieces
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 9 years ago
I dont see the Lara rape attempt scene, done in bad taste. it actually makes sense if she is stranded on an island full of thugs. I didnt see it as a sexual depiction of Lara... i saw it as a more seriouse and sophisticated approach to telling the story. I miss Lara's huge boobs, but then again we have games like Lollipop chainsaw...

This Lara is more realistic and makes sense when graphics have evolved to a point were they are more realistic. With interest in Tomb Raider declining over the years, if Lara is to be taken seriously as a character and a game (like I imagine the developers want), then I think this is the best approach.

With graphics allowing for more acurate depictions of reality, this is a natural step foward for Lara. Unless of course she wants to remain a caricature of a big breasted female. But I dont mind the big breasts actually... But thats just me.

What i saw at E3 impressed me and is easily my game of the show, despite not being a huge fan of the franchise.
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Rob Evans CEO & Lead Developer, Isogenic Engine9 years ago
Gotta say that I just saw the trailer and thought it was excellent. If the game is "exploring" sexual assault themes I would personally welcome it. Why is it wrong to put a character in danger in that way? It tells a story, brings forth emotional connections with the character's situation just like a film. Just because it's interactive doesn't make it any different from that scene in the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (movie) or other hard-hitting scenes of that nature.

It should not be a taboo to open a dialogue about these issues in ANY form. A game is just as legitimate as a movie and it looks like Lara manages to protect herself from the attack... when my daughter is old enough to play computer games I just hope that there are still strong female characters to inspire her like Lara was depicted in this trailer. Honestly, the total hypocrisy around this stuff makes me so annoyed. It's ok for a film to do it because films are "art" but a game that has clearly been painstakingly crafted is just "filth"? Are they not both products for entertainment in one form or another?

Can someone with an opposing view please explain to me why it is wrong?
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Rob Craig Instructor / Writer 9 years ago
First off - I applaud this more realistic approach to the Lara Croft character. It's an important, correctly time to move on beyond the impossible sex-pot Lara that defined a generation that is about to eclipse. This reboot is important for gaming, for a more mature gamer that should be willing to do more than simply run and shoot things with guns that are just as unrealistic than their armor. But a more important second point is that this interactive narrative supports a good reason to place Lara in a vulnerable position, one that threatens her life in a very dark way. The developers have a purpose for this scene, as opposed to simply putting a sexual assault / rape "option" in a game for players to get their thrills. That's what puzzles me about this entire story. Why don't people get what this is about?
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I agree with the two comments preceding this. The trailer we've seen is dark and brutal and terrifying and I don't think the addition of attempted sexual assault was cheap or lazy - it genuinely disturbed me for Lara's sake, and seeing her fighting back and escaping her captor was great. There's nothing wrong with using such an element so long as it's handled appropriately, and I think that has been done here.
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Mark Venturelli Game Designer, Critical Studio9 years ago
Yay for mediocrity!

Let's not only make a "game" that plays just as expected, and where our creative goals are all film-like ("tell an origin story", "show the transformation of the character", "make a statement on violence and frailty"). When confronted about any possible controversy or actual opinion, let's also back away!

Videogames, people. By teenagers, for teenagers.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Mark Venturelli on 14th June 2012 9:14pm

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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University9 years ago
@Darren and @Anthony

Personally I don't see a problem with a bit of editorialising and don't really see that it equates with the 'tabloidisation' of the site in any way. I think that the raising of issues like this is extremely germaine to the industry and that it's right that the site raises them. It can't just be about IP and deals and so on. Changing public attitudes are highly relevant to any industry and it would be extremely unwise to ignore them.

@the two Robs and @Rick

I think the point is not that the attempted rape is present but merely the way that it is presented, that's all. There's no reason why games can't portray serious and dark themes like this but there's nothing in that trailer to suggest that the threat of sexual violence is being used as anything other than a piece of sexual titillation. Any more than the nuns in the Hitman trailer had any purpose other than vicarious thrills.

I also don't think that there's any evidence of art snobbery here or that games can't go into these directions -- just that there's very little proof so far that games are willing to explore these themes in any meaningful way (i.e. in the ways that films for the most part do (although let's face it there's a world of difference between the portrayal of sexual assault in say Death Wish and The Accused, for example).) As it stands, it looks more like the Lara scene is firmly at the Death Wish edge of the spectrum.

I don't agree that there is any meaningful element of hypocrisy in this debate but I do agree that it is perhaps becoming a little overheated and overstated. However, as I've said before I don't think it is a debate that the industry could or should avoid as it's an excellent indicator that games are increasingly becoming a relevant and central part of popular culture, which is surely what we all want.
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I argued fiercely about the fetish nun debacle that it was objectivising and fetishistic in a deeply sexist way, but I'm defending the Tomb Raider trailer. Why? Because of the presentation.

It's all about context. Nowhere in this trailer is Lara portrayed in revealing clothing or sexual positions. Rather than glorying in the violent, awful things that happen to her, the trailer shows them for the brutality that they are. The attempted sexual assault is skin-crawlingly menacing rather than thinly-veiled titillation. They actually did it right, which is probably a first for this industry.
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University9 years ago

I'm all for the topics being discussed (as I said) but the way these sorts of issues are being put forward has changed. Maybe there's a bigger push for traffic since the sites merged, I don't know. Going a year or so back though, it was very unlikely that you'd see a story on end:
they look to E3 for a glimpse of the present and near future of gaming, and they are left with only this: a knife stabbing a human face, forever.
... for example. That, to me, is sensationalism and hurt any legitimate points the article raised (particularly as most of the E3 I caught was streaming sports coverage, fitness games and a lot of Mario).

On the other hand, Rachel's recent story about CVG rating girls was more balanced and I found myself agreeing far more easily with it than, say, Rob's Hitman piece.

In short, an open piece promoting fair discussion without preemptively demonising people with a certain opinion is far better than an over dramatisation - no matter how obvious the 'right' opinion is.
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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University9 years ago

I understand but I'd argue that despite perhaps a tamer presentation, the 'rape' scene is still lazy and exploitational. I find it very hard to believe that it'll even be referred to again in the game or play any meaningful part in the gameplay. It's just being used as shorthand for 'she's a woman, she's under threat. Let's stick a rape threat in there to drive the point home and shoehorn some cheap thrills in at the same time'. It's lazy writing and would be lazy writing whether this a game or a movie or a book.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 9 years ago
I think it's all hypocritical BS.. It's all for the story and character development, not to shock. We've seen stuff like this in 'kid'(8-14) shows..

@colin: it has nothing to do with lazy writing, it has all to do with realistic events, it's just that badguys like that would try to rape beautifull women like lara if they can get away with it (which is something you would if you are on a remote island). It also enhances the reason why lara is always cold toward men (at least I thought she was cold towards them when I watched those movies).
If you think a rape scene is lazy writing, then you don't know jack about writing, emotions and character development.

And just look at what a simple scene like that caused.. Yes I would propably be disgusted if it actually turned into a complete rape scene where we see her clothed torn of and brutually being screwed in every hole. but this brushing isn't anything to write home about, it's all in your own mind what you make of it.. And it's not like you play the bad guy in the game and have to rape lara..

People should just stop being so hypocritical..
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Meelad Sadat [a]list daily editorial director, Ayzenberg Group9 years ago
This, and the fact that online measurement showed positive viewer sentiment during the Sony press conference at its highest when a guy begging for his life got shot in the face with a shotgun.

For a high dose of sanity, read Peterson's GI interview with Spector. It helped me this morning.
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Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online9 years ago
Five thoughts:

1. Did you and everybody who's complaining about the scene actually watch the presentation at E3 or at least the video?

2. Lara isn't shooting the bad guy in that scene like any other 3D shooter hero would. She is struggling with him, struggling also for his weapon that then goes off and kills him.

3. She is completely shocked by that, staggers away and even throws up. Not a cold-blooded killer really.

4. The new Tomb Raider owes much to the TV series Lost, from the island scenario to the Others to the dark piano keys. That's all good. In Lost, little children were kidnapped and people were killed or experimented on. Did anybody complain?

5. Here in the US, the movie rating system is completely bogus. If accompanied by an adult, ANY CHILD can watch ANY MOVIE except for NC-17 ones. I once was watching Jarhead when a mom tried to pacify her infant which was of course crying after hearing all those explosions.

@Mark: The "by teenagers, for teenagers" is spot on. Tomb Raider is the only game I saw at E3 where the lead has some sort of character development going on. Every other game prides itself in its "interrogation scene" (basically an interactive torturing scene in Splinter Cell: Blacklist that NOBODY is writing about) or great physically correct deaths.

I thought the industry was growing up? So far, I've witnessed a few decades of interactive Michael Bay movies, with a few exceptions, of course. I like Michael Bay movies, but I like other movies, too. Where are their equivalents in gaming?
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Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online9 years ago
@Meelad: Thanks. I felt icky at that last game presentation at the Sony press conference, hearing people around me cheer like they witnessed the season defining goal of their favorite sports team. And having a token girl next to the "hero" to justify his actions.

Or the Sam Fisher "moral choice" of letting a man live severely wounded after torture in a desert area far away from a hospital.
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Angus Syme Senior Artist, Lionhead Studios9 years ago
Meh - I found the whole thing felt not grown up but more like the developers had watched hostel and other torture porn vids and then made a game.

It didn't feel remotely like the franchise for one. If you saw the character model in another game I don't think you'd go 'oh that's a young lara croft'. Didn't act like her, didn't play like her - I felt they'd wanted to make a survival horror game and just happened to have the license kicking about.

Also, if this was a prequel to, say, uncharted? This would never ever have been discussed. Can anyone here honestly tell me the developer would go 'oh yeah... one of the pirates starts pulling at his trousers in a lustful way and he fights them off in a horrified crying fashion!'

And yes it IS the same thing - they're not being edgy or mature by doing this - they're tapping into 'I spit on your grave' exploitation action.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
I'm genuinely confused...

We are talking about the Crossroads E3 trailer, right? The one where some guy feels up Lara and gets violent towards her?

Because I would not class that, on its own, as an "attempted rape" scene. I also don't think it's gratuitous. I watched the trailer, and rape and "torture porn" were not my first thoughts. To be honest, it reminded me somewhat of this scene from Crash

(From the description on YouTube: Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) molests Christine (Thandie Newton) while frisking her after pulling her husband Cameron (Terrence Howard) over for a driving violation.)

They both have the same underplayed style (that is not gratuitous), with an over-riding lack of control for the female character. People complain that it's lazy writing, but you know what? This kind of thing happens to people (mostly women) every day, and it affects their perception of life, and how they react to people in their future. Having it included in a game where it could affect the character's perception and actions? I think that's fair.


Reading the Kotaku developer interview for the third time now, I'm thinking two things:

1) That the dev is so used to the word rape in the gaming industry, he just used it as shorthand for sexual assault (the two being different).

2) That they just wanted more publicity, because, as the Nun trailer proved, all publicity is good publicity.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 14th June 2012 9:38pm

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Angus Syme Senior Artist, Lionhead Studios9 years ago
The huge difference between crash and this is one is realistic - the other is, well, hung around game violence.

In crash the purpose of the scene is to highlight the racial and social tensions the film is based around. Realistically she is massively intimidated (who's basically doing it because she's argued with him) by the policeman and the husband sucks it up - humiliated they argue later. It also reflects the grey morality of Dillon's character when he later saves her.

This is none of these things. Its not crash. Its not 'the accused'. Its not telling you anything about the humiliation or lasting terror of being vulnerable in what you think is a safe place. It's whimpering hot girl gets felt up and fights back killing her attackers which is a very mild form of the rape-revenge genre of films a la Spit on grave, the last house on the left, and Ms .45.

It says nothing as commentary and instead hides and emotional gut reaction which is partly based on her being young n female behind some waffle from the developer which is meant to make it sound a bit more serious.

Which it ain't.

(oh - and I did find the Sam Fischer etc stuff fairly depressing as well for the prevalent violence)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Angus Syme on 14th June 2012 9:55pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
Fair fair. A couple of points of rebuttal. :)

1) So, any form of sexual violence within a film is "torture porn" or "rape revenge"? Or is it just bad films/games? It can be the place of art to reflect society's ills and abuses. Movies and literature do this - using violence both sexual and non-sexual to hold a mirror to soceity - so when would it be okay for a game to do it?

This leads on to...

2) Are you commenting on the game, the trailer, or what has been said by the devs? Because there's actually no way you - or anyone - can tell how the game manages the themes of sexual assault, violence and perceived vulnerability from the trailer.

What you say about Crash is true, but you only know that because you can judge the scene within the wider context of the film. Taken on its own, it's a piece of voyeurism, with a male dominating both another male, and the woman.
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Angus Syme Senior Artist, Lionhead Studios9 years ago
1) Personally sexual violence is something that as a developer I'd rather avoid in my own games. I find it depressing and reflected far too much in real life. I think games already have far far too much going for them that drives women away from playing them and I'd like everyone to enjoy playing stuff I work on. I will grant you there IS probably a place for a discussion about more serious things such as child abuse, rape and the like in what we want to be an adult medium but I'm not sure an action adventure is it. The closest film example I can think of this is Deliverance. Which is pretty much about masculinity under threat. Action fails/goes wrong and there's the famous male rape scene. Unfortunately if Ned Beatty's character had been a woman I have a horrible feeling it would have had some kind of sex element to it - rather than just a violation of one person.

Here you just have an attractive girl being felt up and crying/killing. I don't feel it's SAYING anything. If you want to discuss something this serious in a game and do it in an adult way I honestly don't think you can chuck it in as a throwaway part of a scene.

2) Commenting on my own reaction to watching the trailers and the dev comments. I recall watching the first trailer from last E3 and saying to friends that it felt like I was watching torture porn. She gets stabbed, constantly screams in pain, and everything is lit like Descent or some survival horror. This years trailer begins with her hanging upside down like the girl in hostel 2, has her running into a very silent hill looking crucified friend and carries on from there. When she was assaulted by the guy I was depressed enough already and thought 'jesus - he's trying to rape her - surely not.' The chat with the developer later confirmed this was the loose intent.

Which depressed me further. E3 as a whole felt violent and one note - like tuning in to a music station and only getting death metal. Fine occasionally but the unrelenting blast on the AAA front made me wince. But I digress...

You are right about context and me only being able to judge based on a few trailers. However the after show chat did just reinforce my impressions which didn't help.

Last thought. Looking at the picture at the top of the page I found myself looking at the wikipedia entry for various recent video nasties.

What struck me was how in each case the poster was (give or take a level of blood) almost identical. An attractive but badly wounded and bruised woman hinting at the violence to come. is definitely dramatic but has a totally different feel.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Angus Syme on 14th June 2012 10:49pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
Mmmm... Like I say, I thought of Crash before all the torture porn style films, but that's because a) I really like Crash, and b) I've never even watched the first Saw film, let alone any of the other, more recent offspring of that genre. I, too, thought of Deliverance, though, and wondered about the similarities and differences in tone.

I will say that I followed and partook in the thread on this site about the Hitman nun trailer, and whilst people hated the trailer, they didn't taint the finished game with their thoughts of it. One was separate from the other (as far as I remember, anyways). Certainly, the Kotaku interview with the TR dev saying "Oh, yes, it's an attempted rape scene" has tainted how people view the end-product, now. It's just how much of that taint remains when it's released.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 14th June 2012 11:15pm

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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University9 years ago

I've actually made something of a living from writing both journalism and fiction before returning to education. A bit less of the presumption would be nice, not to mention if you could keep your replies remotely civil, thanks.

I'm getting kind of tired of arguing this point and in a way I'm finding that I'm starting to argue against myself here. But it is lazy writing if for no other reason than it is a galloping cliche these days. It would also qualify as incredibly ham-fisted, terminally unsubtle writing if you want to qualify it as cogent character development. We've moved past these kind of lazy tropes in film and TV for the most part, so I just think that the gaming industry should be aiming a little bit higher too. Do we really want or need games being made with a Michael Winner mentality?

And it's not hypocritical. It would only be hypocritical if the critics of the trailer were all secret rapists and actually held views opposite to what they professed.
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