I’m a freelance writer in my early 20s, spending too much money on comics, vinyl, games, movies, and milkshakes.
When and how did you learn about the Tomb Raider series?
Growing up in the 90s, it was inevitable that I’d come across Lara. It first started by watching my friends play, and watching other people play games was my introduction into the pixel land. It was a great bonding experience, one that I feel online multiplayer has detracted from. Despite never having oodles of pocket money, I managed to get the first three Tomb Raider games pretty cheap for my PC. I found the controls fiddly, but they were, and remain, very rewarding games. As an obsessional child (and adult, for that matter) I grew attached to Lara and really related to her, especially in those early games.
Do you run a Tomb Raider fansite or blog? If so, what would you say was your biggest achievement to date?
I don’t, no. I wish I had the tenacity, determination and perseverance to run a blog.
How has Tomb Raider changed your life?
Aside from being a writer, archaeology is what most grabbed me as a kid. This was inspired and nurtured by Indiana Jones, of course, and Stargate, but Lara most of all. Lara was a complex character, one that felt real. She proved that you didn’t have to choose between intelligence and sexuality, that you could look good, kick ass, and be highly educated. During my formative years, that was really powerful. It was also wonderful to have such a popular English character, one that didn’t poke fun of Blighty, but instead celebrated it and probably went some way to making the English accent seem that much sexier.
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 may have answered this one above, but I’ll elaborate. I discovered the Tomb Raider games when stumbling into archaeology and they really helped spice it up and inject a sense of adventure. Lara went a long way to make archaeology seem more than just reading books and dating artefacts. I’m still very interested in history; I wrote my university dissertation on the Vikings, after all, and playing Tomb Raider has only ever nurtured that passion. I enjoy writing fantasy, the best of which is always supported by real history.
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?
This is a debate that’s probably never going to go away, nor should it. The portrayal of women in games is an important subject, one that is becoming increasingly imperative. There are plenty of progressive female game characters out there; Beyond Good and Evil is one of my favourite games, and Jade is a wonderful character, but Lara is also a progressive character. While the accidental and infamous enlargement of her breasts is male titillation, she is so much more than that. Lara is always in control of her sexuality, she doesn’t pander to men; she isn’t submissive or passive. I found that powerful and affecting, even as a man, and I think that women who perhaps feel insecure or pressured to be only one thing because of their bodies would find something very comforting about Lara. I think she is a positive role model, as mentioned above, she proves that you can be a beautiful woman as well as highly educated and, let’s face it, a history geek.
What’s your favourite Tomb Raider game?
The first game, for sure. The first Tomb Raider was so exciting and explosive, the music was sinister, the enemies terrifying, and it just worked on all levels. I liked how restrictive some of it was; in many ways it was basic as well as seeming so expansive. The cut scenes still look great and I’ve had countless hours of fun, as well as hours of frustration. The puzzles were in perfect balance with the action and there wasn’t a dull moment.
And your least favourite game?
I think it’s probably Angel of Darkness. Lara’s image didn’t need updating and she certainly didn’t need thick black make-up (even speaking as a former goth). I think it was just painfully average all round. Though the Tomb Raider franchise is far from over, Lara’s had her heyday and the first four or five games probably won’t be topped.
Classic, Legend-Anniversary-Underworld or Reboot Lara?
Classic, absolutely. She looked great and had the attitude and intelligence to boot.
Do you have any favourite Tomb Raider moments or quotes?
Like many of my friends, one of my fondest Tomb Raider moments was locking Winston in the freezer. It’s puerile I know, but so very fun. Other than that, I think the sense of accomplishment in the early games was profound. When you finally got to a save crystal after struggling for hours, it felt wonderful. I always liked getting picking up the uzis too.
What about least favourite moments? Is there anything you dislike about the games/films/comics?
Lara is a bit ruthless when it comes to killing critters, but even by her standards, having to kill the blind giant squid in Underworld is pretty heartless. I didn’t really feel like playing the game much after that. I think important aspects of Lara’s personality have been diluted over time, which is a shame. I liked the 2013 reboot; it had lashings of potential, and I appreciate it was an origin story (sort of), but I did have to remind myself I was playing Tomb Raider.
If you could change one thing about the Tomb Raider franchise, what would you change?
That’s quite a tough one and, if I’m honest, I don’t think I would change all that much. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, I suppose.
Which places would you like to see Lara explore in future games?
I think a good romp around Scandinavia would be great. A game set exclusively in England would also be pretty cool, though how many giant animals would be after her is debatable.
Finally, if you could join Lara on one of her adventures, where would you go?
Venice would be nice.
A huge thanks to Dominic for taking part in our series of fan interviews. You can follow him on Twitter (@D_Cuthbert), find him on LinkedIn, or, if you’re a fan of sci-fi, fantasy and/or horror, check out his articles on Starburst Magazine.
If you enjoyed this interview and want to read others like it, you can find an archive of all our fan interviews over here.