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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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James Brightman

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James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.

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