Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape Comments were 'Extreme'

June 27, 2012 -

Eidos life president Ian Livingstone recently responded to the controversy over what Tomb Raider executive producer Ron Rosenberg said in describing a scene in the new Tomb Raider game that involved protagonist Lara Croft narrowly avoiding an "attempted rape."

Livingstone said that the recent controversy about Tomb Raider's E3 trailer was "quite extreme" and "blown out of proportion."

He went on to say that Rosenberg's comments were the result of a "live interview that went slightly wrong. Quotes were misinterpreted and blown out of proportion," Livingstone made the comments during an appearance at the Game Horizon conference in Newcastle, England.

He also said that, while rape may be a topic that can be covered in other mediums, it is a different beast in video games.

"I think about my responsibility as a developer - films can deal with these themes, but it's different in games when the user controls the action," he said. "We should be celebrating what's great about the game. I guarantee fans will be delighted with the new Tomb Raider."

Livingstone's message falls in line with what Darrell Gallagher, the boss at Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics, said about the topic recently.

"Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game," Gallagher previously said, in response to Rosenberg's comments.

Source: Eurogamer


Comments

Re: Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape ...

It's not a theme, which anyone who isn't an idiot working for IGN trying to generate traffic should know means it's not central a central topic of the story and one cutscene with an attempted assault doesn't make it such.

Re: Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape ...

I never had an issue with the whole concept of a sexual assault scenario in Tomb Raider. It made it very dark and gritty, very real. I found the entire concept very realistic for someone like Lara Croft who explores the world alone and often finds these groups of bandits.

But this whole wishy-washy attitude from the developers was really bad. They should've stuck to their guns and told the complainers they weren't changing, no matter how bad they thought it was. It's likely that these people are, as usual, the vocal minority anyway.

Re: Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape ...

Yes, because men are just inevitably going to a rape a woman anytime they find themselves with an opportunity to do so. It's just a man thing. It's nothing less inevitable than bad weather or a pothole in the ground or something for the lone woman to overcome, right?

Welcome to rape culture, where rape is this inevitable force of nature that just happens, instead of being an active decision made by a real human being. It's not "gritty" or "realistic" to portray men OR women this way so persistently in the media. Rape is most commonly committed not by scary men lurking in dark places but by people you know, in situations and settings that are often so familiar that a huge majority of women wind up confused, conflicted and questioning whether they've been raped at all. So these male caricatures of evil rapists aren't at ALL realistic if you really want to justify it that way.

As several good articles discussing this fiasco have mentioned, if sexual assault is not a theme, why include it at all? A developer wouldn't include it as a traumatic experience for a male protagonist just because it was "dark" and "gritty", even though male rape is certainly "realistic". Changing the entire tone, theme and age rating of the Tomb Raider franchise with plain old graphic gore and violence is not only questionable from a non-gender, good-writing, true-to-the-spirit-of-the-franchise perspective, and terribly indicative of the games industry's current belief that a game can't be 'mature' without also being hyperviolent, graphic, dark and gritty, but throwing in sexual assault on top is drastically unnecessary. The very fact that so many developers think this type of game is 'mature' is the exact reason why they are not ready to seriously tackle subjects like rape and sexual assault.

Also, Eidos and CD seriously need to learn to PR. I facepalm at everything they say to address this mess.

Re: Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape ...

Well, to be fair, little media (good or bad) is all that realistic... it tends to focus on the extraordinary, and rape as a theme, plot element, side plot, or even back story, is pretty time honored and often an effective piece of storytelling.  And, of course, on the other extreme we really want to avoid sweeping rape under the rug or making it something that has to be life dominating for the characters involved.

That being said, it really feels tacked on here, a dramatic version of jumping the shark.

Re: Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape ...

I certainly wouldn't dissuade creative industries from tackling tough subjects, but it needs to be done with a modicum of taste and respect, and it needs to have more of a point than making a female character 'enticing' in her vulnerability (Rosenberg's word). And while it's certainly overused, I wouldn't say rape is used effectively in a backstory very often for 'superhero' types, especially as it's used most primarily against female characters and as a shortcut to character development and change. It's extremely rare for the consequences of sexual assault on a character's life to be properly dealt with, and instead sexual violence is used as a radioactive spider bite (as I heard it cleverly put in a comment on the discussion).

By contrast, it's more common for such things to be done to the female family members of a male protagonist - as a prime example in video games, the city elf opening of Dragon Age.

Quite frankly, a game series about a free-spirited adventurer and explorer was never the place for this kind of subject matter. Crystal Dynamics have missed the point of Tomb Raider by miles with this "reboot". It's the same as making a 'dungeon crawler' for Silent Hill. The spirit and focus of the franchise is lost.

Re: Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape ...

It DID have a point other than making the character enticing. That entire trailer was emphasizing how terrifying and desperate Lara's adventure was. The entire tone of this game is different than the previous games in the series; Lara is not the tough and confident raider of tombs we know of in previous games, but instead an explorer who has found herself in way over her head and must learn to survive.

She wakes up tied up in a cave filled with horrors and impales herself on a spike as she escapes and finds her friend dead; She has no supplies and is clearly frightened for her life; She is being hunted as she is hunting to survive (her apology to the deer shows us she is not comfortable and experience with this type of survival); even when she is supposed to be saving someone she find herself captured and has to escape. All in all the attempted rape is just another of the many horrors she is facing on this adventure. And that kind of rape DOES happen... Lara isn't in a 1st world country, she's in the middle of nowhere; just look up the horrible things that men have done in times of great violence in third world countries; The contras for instance were known to have tortured, raped and killed women. The world can get VERY ugly. This is what the tomb raider reboot is trying to do by changing up the tone of the franchise.

Hell this idea that the scene was meant to make Lara somehow "enticing" seems to me like it is based on nothing more than Lara's history as a video game sex symbol; if this were a new IP with a new character, we might not see people jumping to such conclusions. The opinion is based upon the history of the franchise instead of based on merits of the game... and frankly i found NOTHING enticing about Lara' in that trailer; all i saw was a women desperately trying to survive a horrifying experience; and that's how even the attempted rape scene was treated, it wasn't sexualize but instead expressed as being a horrible experience.

Re: Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape ...

minority or not, 'the squeaky wheel gets the grease' as they say.

Re: Livingstone: Reaction to Tomb Raider Attempted Rape ...

From my understanding of the whole situation, nothing in the actual game is being changed at all, but one of the developers has tried to calm the situation down by trying to deny it being what everyone knows it is and, of course, he just looks like he's trying to make fools out of all of us.

 
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