This week’s fan interview turns the spotlight on Sarah, a history postgraduate, blogger and gamer living in South Wales.
My name is Sarah, I’m a 26-year-old history postgrad, living in South Wales with my husband and days away from having our first child (who I’m not allowed to name after any game characters – pfffft!).
When I’m not blogging about history and fiction on my blog, History in the (Re)Making, I’m running the social media for a gaming & geekery website, Wasduk.Com, which I also write for. I also have a sweet tooth of mythical proportion and would happily holiday in Silent Hill.
When and how did you learn about the Tomb Raider series?
The year was 1998 and I was visiting a friend who asked if I’d like a go on her PlayStation, but the only games she had were Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II. Despite owning a PlayStation, I hadn’t actually played any of the games so I fired up the first one and thought it was the best thing in the world. I was eleven years old and I shot a freaking bear with twin pistols!
Do you run a Tomb Raider fansite or blog? If so, what would you say was your biggest achievement to date?
I do not, though I do jointly run a general gaming website WasdUK. It’s been amazing to meet so many friendly and interesting people through Twitter (@wasduk1) and Facebook, especially those who combine their love of history with gaming.
How has Tomb Raider changed your life?
Tomb Raider was the first game that presented me with a strong female role model who could take care of herself. I had a short graphic novel that documented Lara’s backstory and the events leading up to the first game and I literally read it until it fell apart (I still have it somewhere though). As I was in a situation that I desperately wanted to escape myself, I took great comfort from Lara’s rebellion against her lifestyle when until that point most women in video games had been quite submissive and passive.
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 was interested in history but not archaeology, Tomb Raider sparked my ‘Egyptology phase’ which never really went away. I intended to do Egyptology at university and become an archaeologist until someone pointed out that I really, really, really hate the heat and Egypt is quite hot (this hadn’t occurred to me before :p). I did history instead and now I’m interested in marine archaeology and ancient Chinese archaeology, though I do read up around all the Tomb Raider games just because they’re always so fascinating!
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?
I very much think she’s a positive role model and, of course, when I first started playing the games, I was too young to think about her in the context of sexism. She was just a hero who happened to be a woman. These days, I get annoyed when she is shown to be ‘male fantasy fulfilment’ because Lara is an intelligent woman who, in the context of the games, uses that intelligence rather than flaunting her assets to get what she wants.
It annoys me that she is so easily dismissed by so many because of her looks, as though an attractive woman couldn’t possibly achieve anything off her own back. But I think by far, the most important positive part of Lara is that she relies on her friends to help out. So often female characters are made so “strong” and “independent” that they become completely flawless and don’t need any one else to get by, which I feel is actually detrimental to a character’s development.
What’s your favourite Tomb Raider game?
As much as I really enjoyed the reboot Tomb Raider 2013, whenever I think ‘I want to play Tomb Raider’ I always go back to the first game. It’s not the most stylish of the games but it has a special place in my heart.
And your least favourite game?
Probably Tomb Raider: Underworld. I enjoyed the story and it was the first game whose graphics actually left me breathless as I looked out over the ocean but for some reason, I have never been able to get on with the controls. It’s probably more me than the game but I have never had so much trouble making a character go where I want them as in that bloody game. Lara usually ends up with a broken neck while I end up screaming at the console.
Classic, Legend-Anniversary-Underworld or Reboot Lara?
I love them all, really, but I am enjoying the reboot of Lara. She’s got enough of Classic Lara’s attitude but with a neat recent-graduate-geek thing going on. I love her look in Legend though. She’s just so pretty *swoon*
Do you have any favourite Tomb Raider moments or quotes?
“I’m not leaving you because I couldn’t kill you. I’m leaving you because I could.”
I really enjoy Lara’s relationship with Terry in the Cradle of Life. I’m not one for a happy ending so I really like the way their relationship develops and ultimately ends and what it shows for Lara’s strength of character.
What about least favourite moments? Is there anything you dislike about the games/films/comics?
Quick time events! Goddamn quick time events!
If you could change one thing about the Tomb Raider franchise, what would you change?
Quick time events! No, seriously, I’d probably put more tombs into the later games. As much as I love some of the locations Lara has explored, I am a sucker for nostalgia and there’s something about exploring a very closed-in environment that draws me to the earlier games. That and I think with the modern graphics engine some of the tombs could be made absolutely stunning.
Which places would you like to see Lara explore in future games?
I am really, really interested in ghost ships and marine archaeology so if Lara could explore more shipwrecks looking for lost artefacts, I think I would be a very happy bunny. Even better: Lara Croft on a pleasure cruise ghost ship would make my day!
Finally, if you could join Lara on one of her adventures, where would you go?
I’d like to say Egypt and find some ancient ruins, but frankly I’d go wherever it was cold. I’d take snow over sand any day!
A huge thanks to Sarah for taking part in our series of fan interviews (I wonder if the baby has been born yet). You can follow Sarah on Twitter under the usernames @HistoryRemaking and @wasduk1. And be sure to check out her blogs History in the (Re)Making and WasdUK.
You can find an archive of all our fan interviews over here.