Tomb Raider, players' perception ... help please!

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  1. #1 Tomb Raider, players' perception ... help please! 
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    Hi everyone! I'm new to this forum, and thought it would be interesting to register and talk to other players since I am currently playing and working on Tomb Raider. Yes working!

    I'm conducting a small research and analysis about the game, and I'd love to interact with players (current or past). I've read many studies about players' perception of Lara Croft but none were satisfying, so I'd like to initiate a quick survey.

    My subject is : What attracted you to the game?

    1) Was Lara's feminine identity what appealed to you?
    2) Was it more the gameplay/adventure history which got you into playing it?
    3) About Lara's physical appearance: were you ever annoyed by it or was it never a concern?
    Feel free to add any comment, but you can just reply by yes/no.

    Could you please indicate your gender (it matters since the research is gender oriented). The only condition is that you should be American (sorry about this restriction, but my research concerns American cultural studies). If you are not, feel free to participate anyway, but just indicate where are you from.
    I hope this is not a bother to anyone, this is not my goal to annoy any of you.

    Here are my answer to those questions for instance:
    1) Yes in a way. I would never have related to a strong male character and Lara felt closer to me.
    2) Yes. I don't like all action games, so the adventure factor was something which did attract me.
    3) No, when I played the game I was never annoyed by her appearance but it was not a concern for me at the time.

    Please go on, that would be much appreciated.
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  2. #2  
    Full Member Oceanborn's Avatar
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    wow, this is quite interesting =)

    my answers:
    1) absollutelly no. I played my first Tomb Raider game when I was 8, and wasn't old enough to appreciate the difference between male and female protagonists (I mean, it was the same for me if the one who jumps and shoots is a man or a woman).
    2) yes. actually, I saw a friend of my dad playing it, and it was my first 3d experience in a video game. the gameplay / adventure part is what made me play tomb raider games until this moment.
    3) I hate when sexual or suggestive themes (like Lara's body) are used for commercial or advertising purposes, but at the same time it is a part of the characters charisma and personality, so in a way it annoys me, but at the same time I'm ok with it.

    something to keep in mind:
    - the difference between old, true tomb raider games (from TR1 to TR angel of darkness), and the new gen TR games, from TR legend onwards. the second ones are totally different games that just use the same character, but the gameplay and the overall feel of the game changed.
    - indiana jones and the infernal machine. that was a game very similar to old tomb raiders, almost identical, with some things even better done. it was a very good game but it didnt have a good reception. was it because of the male character..?

    Im 19 years old, male, but Im not American. Im from Ukraine, actually living in Argentina.
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  3. #3  
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    Thank you for this first very detailed reply, it is extremely satisfying.

    It is quite fascinating that you played the game at a young age but still hated the sexual theme. Body conscious at such a young age is quite rare I think. Kuddos to that!
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  4. #4  
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    at first it didn't matter much, that conception came after years of playing tomb raider games
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    OK, noted down!
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  6. #6  
    Full Member Oceanborn's Avatar
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    by the way, it seems quite interesting this research you're doing. hope it goes fine, best of luck for you =)
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  7. #7  
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    Well thanks, I really like studying games and this subject sounded interesting to me too.
    I hope many more players will reply!
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  8. #8  
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    Hi, Izzie. I just joined this forum to reply to your post after seeing a Google Alert about it. I run a Tomb Raider walkthrough site and have been playing the games since shortly after the first one came out.

    Maybe you're specifically looking for replies from a more general demographic, but if you're interested in getting a larger response, you might try posting where the fans congregate. The official Tomb Raider forum is pretty busy even between games, and there are dozens of other message boards listed on my site's (Community and Links pages).

    As for my own answers, lets see….

    1) Was Lara's feminine identity what appealed to you?

    Definitely, among other factors. A game starring a strong female character who wasn't a bimbo or a princess needing to be rescued was a breath of fresh air in 1996. I knew I had to play it.

    Along the lines of what Oceanborn mentioned, Toby Gard, the designer who created Lara Croft, had originally intended the character to be a male Indiana Jones type. Then early in Tomb Raider's production, the developers decided to go with a female lead instead—for both legal and player-appeal reasons. I think the time was right for a strong female lead in a video game. I doubt that an Indiana Jones knock-off would have become the world-wide success that Tomb Raider did.

    2) Was it more the gameplay/adventure history which got you into playing it?

    For me, I'd say both equally. I've always been interested in Archeology, Egyptology, and the like. So that was a big draw. Also, I find most first- and third-person-shooters too violent and most point-and-click or dialogue-based "adventure" games too slow and boring. For me, Tomb Raider has the perfect balance of exploration/puzzle solving and combat.

    3) About Lara's physical appearance: were you ever annoyed by it or was it never a concern? Feel free to add any comment, but you can just reply by yes/no.

    Yes, I have been annoyed/embarrassed by Lara's portrayal.

    People who've never played the games but have seen the marketing (and who in North America or Europe hasn’t?) often assume the character is a bimbo or at least uses her sex appeal as a weapon (like a Bond girl or similar). For that reason, people are often surprised that I—a woman and a feminist—like the games so much. I try to explain that the actual character is a very strong, intelligent and independent person. Some people understand, some don't.

    I also think it's important to draw a distinction between the Lara in the actual games and the one in the marketing. Her physical appearance in the games is nowhere near as exaggerated as the box art, posters, etc. Sex may sell, but it's good game design that sells sequels. ;)

    Good luck with your project. If you'd like some additional exposure, please feel free to contact me directly. If you'd like to do a guest spot on my blog, I'm sure we could work something out.

    Regards, Stella
    Last edited by stellalune; 12-25-2009 at 01:54 PM. Reason: typo
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    Stella, thank you very much! I'm noting down your answers and suggestions and I'm going to visit your own blog. Thanks for the help!
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    I'm going to send you a private message with my two email addresses, thanks for telling me.
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  11. #11 In response to your questions 
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    Hi. I love playing Tomb Raider. I have since I got the 1st game years ago. I have played everyone of the games over and over again. I hope my answers help you out.

    Was Lara's feminine identity what appealed to you?
    Yes that was definetly part of it. I loved the fact that it was a female character. I liked that fact that she was strong and smart too. Its nice to be able to play a video game where the main character is a female.

    Was it more the gameplay/adventure history which got you into playing it?
    I definetly liked the adventure of going to other coutries and finding all the artifacts. I liked the History. I liked the stories in the game. It kept my intrest,wanting to know what came next. I liked the puzzles too. I like the fact that it was not just a shoot em up game. It makes you thinkl


    About Lara's physical appearance: were you ever annoyed by it or was it never a concern?
    To me Lara's physical appearance in the game is not the same as in the advertising. Its sad they need to advertise her that way to sell the game. Its not that Lara that attracted me to the game. It was the fact that she was smart,and storng, an adventurer.


    I am a Female, and yes I am American. I live in Oklahoma.
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  12. #12  
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    Thank you for this very interesting answer. This is definitely going to help me for my paper
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  13. #13 Re: Tomb Raider, players' perception ... help please! 
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    Hello Izzie!

    Interesting project you're undertaking. Here are my answers for you:

    1.) Was Lara's feminine identity what appealed to you?

    Yes, partly. I'd been watching my younger brother playing video games for a little while and had been noticing that most of the protagonists in his games were male. The female characters were usually weaker sidekicks, love interests/ "damsels in distress" or in with the bad guys. When he broke out Tomb Raider 3, that got my attention: a female character who could kick some serious butt and wasn't stereotypical. So I decided to give the game a try myself, and the rest is history.

    2.) Was it more the gameplay/adventure history which got you into playing it?

    Yes, much more so than Lara's feminine identity. I'm a history/archaeology/Egyptology nerd, so it was fun for me to follow mythologies and locales as I progressed through the games. The gameplay was definitely addicting, too. Tomb Raider was the first video game that really made me think; it was a challenge, and the change from the basic hack-n-slash or "shoot 'em up" or "get from point A to point B following this very predictable route" gameplay was refreshing. I like being made to use my brain :)

    3.) About Lara's physical appearance: were you ever annoyed by it or was it ever a concern? Feel free to add any comment, but you can just reply by yes/no.

    Yes, I've been annoyed from time to time. What got to me was when I started coming across advertisements and such that tried to take advantage of the sex appeal of Lara's character. Since the idea that "sex sells" is rather rampant, it wasn't surprising, but I found it embarrassing because to me, Lara was a strong, smart character with a mind of her own who didn't need anything apart from those things to be emphasized in order to have a following. And going along with what Stella said earlier in her response, it's true that Lara in the game and Lara in marketing are pretty distinct from one another. Anyone who appreciates good gaming will get into Tomb Raider for the gameplay and the character herself, not the way she's portrayed outside the game! With that in mind, it's easy to dismiss the annoyances that cross one's path every now and then.

    By the way, I'm 26, female, from New Mexico, USA. Hope your project goes well!

    - Laura (TRtbn21)
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  14. #14  
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    Thank you Laura for your answer!
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  15. #15  
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    Hi Izzie,

    My young niece first acquired TombRaider and asked me to sit beside her while she played. At first I could only watch in amazement as she manipulated the character through the keyboard, while my contribution was to keep a walkthrough handy and read the relevant sections when necessary. It didn't take long before I was suddenly left alone in my apartment with a strong desire to play and I was forced to learn how to play by myself! Now, so many years later, I am still hooked and look forward to every new release.

    To answer your questions...I can only say that my thoughts and feelings about the game mirror those of stellalune so perfectly that I'll save myself the trouble of repeating it all.

    Good luck with your research.
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Tomb Raider, players' perception ... help please!