I’m a 21-year-old student of Politics and French from southeast England, due to graduate in June this year.
When and how did you learn about the Tomb Raider series?
I played it first at around the age of 6/7 after watching my mum and uncle play it, so that must’ve been 1998-9.
Do you run a Tomb Raider fansite or blog? If so, what would you say was your biggest achievement to date?
Nope – I’ve written three guest articles for The Archaelogy of Tomb Raider though. My favourite was the one on Norse Mythology in Tomb Raider: Underworld. (Editorial note: Anya’s other guest blogs are Tomb Raider and the Temples of Angkor and Life Might Not Be a Video Game But…)
How has Tomb Raider changed your life?
I can’t say for sure, but I think having Lara as a role model was important for me growing up. I never had the impression that girls and women couldn’t or shouldn’t do certain things – and I had an example to prove it in Lara.
Were you interested in archaeology before discovering Tomb Raider? Have the Tomb Raider games and films inspired you to learn more about ancient history?
I wasn’t interested in archaeology before Tomb Raider – but I probably couldn’t read much then anyway 🙂 The games definitely inspired me to learn about archaeology, though. I was really fascinated by Ancient Egypt as a child and wanted to be an archaeologist for a long time.
What are your thoughts on Lara’s image? Is she simply the product of a sexist gaming industry or can she be seen as a positive role model?
On the one hand, I find that the people that think Lara is nothing but “big tits and short shorts” have often not played the games, and assumed that she has no characterisation or interest outside of that – they judge purely based on promotional materials. Clearly, anyone who has played will know that she’s always been quite an interesting character – varying from sardonic and murderous to witty and only slightly questionably amoral. I like the way she’s a bit of a Byronic heroine.
On the other hand, clearly her physique was designed to attract young men and it’s no surprise that it’s questioned as part of a wider phenomenon of female (mis)representation in games and other media. But I think it’s important to make a distinction between ‘sexy’ and ‘sexualised’. The former is just looking attractive; the latter is when you treated only as an object for sexual attraction. As I said, in-game Lara has quite a rich and interesting character, so I don’t see it as awful if she’s good looking as well – I’d rather have a strong female role model who also happened to be sexy than no female role model at all. Although, some of the early advertisements were quite objectionable (circa TR 2) since they said nothing about the game except that it contains a large-breasted female.
What’s your favourite Tomb Raider game?
Tough question. I think it’s between the original TR, TR 2, and TR: Legend. The first is the most nostalgic. The second is, I’d say, technically a better game but with less of the nostalgia for me. And although I don’t like all of the changes, I really enjoyed TR: Legend.
And your least favourite game?
I felt TR 3 was way too long and difficult – fiddly jumps & puzzles relying on endless trial and error. TR 2013 keeps you on your toes a bit more, but it was just an explosion-filled shoot-em-up with a poorly integrated plotline and bad character designs. I definitely have a stronger antipathy to that one, anyway.
Classic, Legend-Anniversary-Underworld or Reboot Lara?
I like the Classic and Legend-Anniversary-Underworld Laras equally.
Do you have any favourite Tomb Raider moments or quotes?
When Lara throws her boots at the dying monk at the end of the Diving Area level in TR 2. Completely unexplained and unnecessary rudeness. You’d think they’d have taught her manners at boarding school.
What about least favourite moments? Is there anything you dislike about the games/films/comics?
The gratuitous violence of TR 2013 really annoyed me. It wasn’t even disturbing or frightening; it was just overblown and ridiculous – most notably in the scene where Lara falls into the pool of blood – that I felt I must be watching some B-rated “splatter” film taking itself too seriously. It also saddens me that because of the content of the game, not as many children will be able to play it, and they won’t have a strong role model like I did growing up.
If you could change one thing about the Tomb Raider franchise, what would you change?
See above. I’d also completely scribble out Lara’s redesign – a perfectly good character reduced to a bog-standard “heroine” type with no depth.
Which places would you like to see Lara explore in future games?
Maybe somewhere in the Middle East? More mythical locations would be fun too.
Finally, if you could join Lara on one of her adventures, where would you go?
I’m a bit of a wimp so I can’t imagine keeping up with Lara anywhere. Maybe I’d give the City of Khamoon a go, as long as she promised to deal with those terrifying mummies…
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