Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
The sky is cobalt blue and the jungle is a green, so deep, I have never seen it before. Flying bugs the size of my fist hover around my head. I hear monkeys and wild birds of in the distance. I can’t help but wonder what noise do crocodiles make?
Sweat pours out of me profusely. But my companion looks like she just walked out of a glamor magazine. Not a single waist long hair is out of place. It is hard to believe that Lara Croft (the character in the game world) was born February 14th 1968, is only a year younger than me. But then again with the reboot, I am not sure if that is cannon any more. Like many fictitious characters she will probably look like she is in her prime forever.
Her schedule as an international explorer slash relic hunter is so busy the only time she could make for this interview was when she was smack in the middle of the South American Jungle. “Mind if I ask you a few questions?” I ask as she hacks a way a huge vine with a machete.
“Sure thing luv, fire away.” She says as the blade cuts through the two inch diameter vine. Her breath never seems rushed or heavy
“I want to talk about the two things that really defeat the purpose of you being an archeologist.”
“Bullocks.” She sneers. “Every man wants to talk about my mammaries, you are all the same.”
“Actually…Uh…I want to talk about your guns.” I say pointing at the two 9 MMs strapped to her thighs. I mean you shoot everything in sight doesn’t that make you a bad archeologist?”
“Uh…Oh those…yes…sorry…” I think she almost blushes. “Well yes. Real archeology is slow and pain staking. Important but not really good for video games, comic books and movies. So yes it isn’t realistic but you really need it for the mediums that I am in. There is a long tradition of two fisted archeologist, from Doc Savage, to Indiana Jones to Daniel Jackson. We are as much warriors as academics.”
“OK.” I Say. “But since you mentioned your.…umm…breasts…”
“Typical man.” She says as she rolls her eyes behind her rose colored glasses. “Yes they are unrealistic. Yes real women who are athletic tend to have small breasts. They were an error. A software engineer typed in the wrong number to make them as large as are. Yes I probably wouldn’t have been as famous without them, but it is the game buyers who demand the product. It more of an indictment against pop culture and unrealistic views of the woman body held by society than against me.”
“How do you feel about being exploited for your looks?” I ask.
Lady Croft shrugs her shoulders. “I am a fictitious character owned by a corporation whose goal is to make money. And well sex sells, well more to the point sexuality sells… As my dear friend Jessica Rabbit says…’I am just drawn that way’”… But my creator Toby Gard felt so strongly about the way Eidos and Core, in his mind exploited me with Maxim Magazine like art that he quit between the success of TR and the release TRII. He thought that it took away from me as a character and from what he originally crated.”
“What about the infamous nude raider?” I ask, afraid she might use the H&K pistols on me.
“You got to remember that the so called nude raider patch wasn’t made by Core. That they were all made by outside sources, and that it is only for the PC, there never was a console version of the patch, that is just an urban legend. Gibson said “The streets will find their own use for things.” And whether we like it or not Rule 37 applies to everything.” She seems remarkably calm about the subject.
“Now originally you were envisioned as a man.”
She takes out a metal canteen and takes a swig. “Yes. At first Toby Gard had envisioned me as literally an Indiana Jones clone, complete with hat and whip. But that was too close to comfort for legal so they had him reinvention me. The rest is as you say is gaming history.” She hands me the canteen.
I take a drink. “Originally you were going to be Laura Cruz, a Hispanic character. Is that a missed opportunity?”
Taking the canteen back she shrugs again. Her sinewy shoulders easily seen to rise under the fabric of her green sleeveless tee-shirt. “Yes, I guess that would have been an incredible opportunity for future heroines of color in video games. But Toby was British so it made since to switch. Also being English is defiantly now aspect of my personality and make up it would strange to see me as anything else now.”
“What about this whole ‘and your reward is clothes’ mentality that your game creates?” I ask. “Don’t you see this as a bit sexist?”
She looks around the terrain, I supposed looking for snipers, or ninjas, or crocodile, or ninja sniper crocodiles. “One of the thing about video games is that it provides players with instant rewards for preforming certain actions. It’s a virtual reality not a physical one so one of the ways players can feel gratification is physically change your avatar’s appearance. We are not the only one out there. Complete Grand Theft Auto Vice City, you get a ‘I completed this game and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt’ as a reward that your charterer can wear. Even Wii Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune have clothes as rewards for winning for the icons.”
“Now this may be a bit hard to talk about, but you apparently die in The Last Revelation.” I say cautiously.
As she keeps walking she seems to perk up. “Oh no I find this plot twist fascinating. Here I THE tomb raider lost beneath tons of ruble in a tomb. What irony. The point of the games, is to avoid me dying in any of hundreds of possible grizzly deaths. But the end of TR:IV I die, no matter what you do. The truth is killing me off was a lot like fellow Brit Sherlock Holmes. Doyle grew to hate his creation. The programmers of Tomb Raider had spent nearly half a year working on my games almost 24/7 each time was put out. They needed a break. They actually went out to a pub and had a drink to celebrate my demise.” She laughs at that. “Then in Chronicles it was like Doyle’s Hound of the Baskerville, a flashback story. But in the end just like Sherlock, well you can’t kill a cash cow, they brought me back.”
“What do you think of the Movies?” I ask as we carefully work are way down a slopping hill.
“Oh I love them.” She insists. “I mean look at how many bad video game moves there are out there. Street Fighter, Mario brothers, and don’t even get me on Wing Commander. The Tomb raider movies don’t try to be anything other than popcorn movies and at that level they are very successful. And you got to love Angelina Jolie’s commitment to the character, not only did she train to take over the part she quit smoking to become more like me, she really did a great job, in my humble option.”
“Well how do you feel about the reboot?” I ask.
“I assume you mean the second reboot.” She corrects me. “Well it makes sense to start form the beginning again. Try to get into what makes me me. Now some fans think this makes me a weaker character. But the new Lara is a new character, a younger growing character. Inexperienced but not week. Besides, it makes sense to wear jeans in you are crawling around a jungle as oppose to a pair of Daisy Dukes.”
“There is a theory that you allow young boys a safe way to express their feminine side, what do you think about that?” I ask.
She give a slight laugh at that. “I guess that question has to be answered by each individual who plays the game. Though I am pretty sure Toby and the Core crew weren’t thinking about that when they created me.”
“But are you a good role model for you women?”
“Well I guess as a father of a teenage girl you could answer that better than I could Dave.” She says in her English accent. “But, yeah I think I am. I don’t need to be rescued. Sure I shot my way out of a lot of situations. But a lot of my challenges are puzzles I have to think my way through. I hit it big in an industry that was predominately male. So yes I do think I am a good role model.”
Finally we get to the question I have wanted to ask her the whole time. “Listen I know this little pub in London when we get back…”
But then she sees what she was looking for the whole time. At the bottom of the hill is a pre-Colombian Ziggurat. “Sorry Dave adventure waits for no one…” And dashes down the hill.