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Tomb Raider Art Director: “As an Industry We’ve Grown up, but not Enough”

December 5, 2012 Written by Alex Osborn

Tomb Raider art director Brian Horton addressed the controversy surrounding Crystal Dynamics’ approach to a more vulnerable Lara, claiming that the industry still has a bit of maturing to do.

Speaking with CVG, Horton discussed how far the industry has come in handling female protagonists, applauding BioWare for their work on Mass Effect. However, he also notes that there’s still plenty of room for maturing.

I think that’s what’s really great about Mass Effect for instance: you can choose to be female Shepard. You can choose to make the protagonist a heroine, but that’s not the way they market the game, right? It’s marketed as the male Shepard. So for our game, Lara stands alone in an industry of AAA third-person action games, in that it has the female hero.

Horton then went on to explain that since Lara wasn’t a vulnerable female in the prior Tomb Raider games, there was less controversy surrounding her as a female lead.

Before she was really just an expression of male energy in a female body. Now she’s both female and feminine, but at the same time very strong, has that inner strength, has those smarts – the things you associate with Lara Croft – but also with a little more texture.

With regard to the controversial scene that ends in Lara’s first kill, Horton defended the studio’s decision to include such a powerful and emotional moment.

As an industry we’ve grown up, but not enough to do everything you can do in films or TV. We made a conscious decision to make a bold storytelling choice and gameplay choice, to give that scene more emotional weight. We don’t shy away from the choices we made.

Do you agree with the points Horton has made? Does out industry still have quite a bit of growing left to do? Share your thoughts in the comments below.