Rhianna Pratchett Takes Games Media To Task Over Tomb Raider Rape Fiasco
Rise of the Tomb Raider
(Last Updated On: January 22, 2017)

No matter what you think about the reboot of the Tomb Raider series, the one bit of credit that must be given to the lead writer on the two games is that Rhianna Pratchett actually took games media to task for being the two-faced, rage-bait hounds that they are.

Recently Pratchett had departed from Crystal Dynamics and the Tomb Raider franchise to pursue other goals in life. She had a rocky time working on the two Tomb Raider games but I’ll get to that in a bit.  During her interview with PC GamesN she brought up something that was lost in a sea of noise back during 2012: her perspective on the whole ordeal.

Pratchett’s voice was lost in the games media attack on Tomb Raider during the whole “rape culture” phenomenon that was sweeping the media at the time. This was just before the “rape culture” myth was eventually debunked along with the credibility of Rolling Stone when the lead cases involving “rape culture” turned out to be fabricated.

Well, Pratchett explained to PC GamesN that the media got Tomb Raider all wrong during the small clip that showed a helpless Lara at the mercy of a wilderness man. Pratchett says…

“Once you play it in context, it makes a lot of sense and isn’t her ‘bitten by a radioactive spider’ moment. This isn’t when she turns into a tomb raider – this is when she happens to have to deliberately kill a human being for the first time.”

 

It felt like an important debate to have, because it felt like a scene that would not have caused controversy in any other medium,” […] “This is an 18-rated game, and you could probably see worse in a soap opera.”

It’s true. Rape scenes are a heck of a lot more common in movies and no one bats an eye. It’s a frequent topic in plenty of Netflix, Hulu and cable TV shows, and was the centerpiece of an entire story arc in Outlander, but they get a pass for “reasons”.

The whole scene in Tomb Raider that the media lost their heads over is actually quite benign compared to everything else out there in various other mediums.

A lot of misinformed culture critics have labeled games as heightening sexism in young boys and contributing to rape culture, but the reality is that rape is rarely ever featured in a game, unless we’re talking about H-games but that’s completely different category of titles for a completely different niche audience. Regardless, the scene in question can be viewed below courtesy of The Doctor.

That little piece of media spawned headlines for ages. There’s a Google search of all the websites having their take on rape culture and Tomb Raider, which stretches on for pages at a time. Each of the clueless gaming sites out there chimed in on their opportunity to virtue signal as social justice warriors.

However, according to Pratchett, the whole thing was misconstrued and then blown out of proportion…

“We talk about the wider media pointing at videogames and saying, ‘They’re killing our kids’. But that’s exactly what [the games press] did to Tomb Raider. They didn’t have context, they just decided what this scene meant. And I thought, ‘If you can’t even hang back and wait for the whole game rather than pointing fingers, then we’re never going to get that respect from the wider media.’”

Well said.

The games media have become little more than a joke amongst most discerning gamers. They’re quick to call any and everything sexist, lambast developers for what they perceive as a lack of “diversity”, and throw around the word “misogyny” like an actual misogynist throws around domestic abuse.

The interview snippet actually makes Pratchett come out looking like she may have had Lara’s best interests in mind. She gets a lot of flak for the piss-poor narrative and characters in the Tomb Raider reboots, but the whole thing could have boiled down to lots of headbutting taking place in during production. If Pratchett really did want to bring back the heroine Lara and Crystal Dynamics wanted weak and whiny Lara, then that would explain some of the huge issues that people brought up with the characterizations in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

After realizing that she had to cobble the story together for the first Mirror’s Edge at the eleventh hour (and I thought it was serviceable), and I found out that they scrapped her stuff for the absolute mess that was Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, I’m a lot more forgiving toward the narrative woes of the new Tomb Raider games. In fact, she may be carrying more of a burden that’s less of her fault than what some of us may have thought.

Part of me wishes we could have seen what Pratchett’s take on the two Tomb Raider games would have been like without the meddling of the design team, and part of me would have liked to have seen what the design team would have come up with without the meddling of the writers. Obviously, the butting of the heads did not work out too well, and despite Rise of the Tomb Raider having better platforming segments and playability than Uncharted 4, the rest of the game felt like an incohesive mess.

On the upside, at least Pratchett is aware of what went wrong and hasn’t completely given up on games. I’m also glad she was able to call out the nonsense of the media given that it was a complete and utter embarrassment how they dragged the game through the mud with their “rape culture” narrative, which was almost as bad (but not quite) as the media’s obsession with #GamerGate and the debunked harassment narrative.

(Main image courtesy of Otis_Inf)


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About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • patriarchal landmine

    rape is basically nothing but an anti male blood libel. it’s a cudgel used by women and white knights to beat innocent men and boys to death with.

    no amount of contrition by women will ever make up for this crime against the male gender.

  • Michael Marquardt

    An excellent article. I may not have played the Tomb Raider games, but I am glad to hear someone call the media on their bullshit rhetoric. Here’s hoping people realize those games media sites are less interested in honest journalism than they are interested in click-bait headlines and pushing liberal agendas.

  • Sevuz

    Sucks to have been through all that shit. A lot of things can go wrong when too many hands is on the wheel. It’s pretty obvious that something went REALLY wrong with the writing and direction of these games. The 1 major problem is that they tried to fix something that wasn’t broken to begin with.

  • Conner Garry Sennett

    It probably has to do with me not playing much of the originals, but I actually enjoyed the first reboot game. As for the disconnect between the writing and what you can actually make Lara do…I mean, I don’t know that seems like a lot of games? I didn’t have a problem with ‘weak’ Lara because I figured the events would harden her and make her tougher, but I haven’t yet played the sequel, so.

    • Sevuz

      It doesn’t get better in the sequel. The the problem is that Lara’s personality was just fine in the old games (at least the 3 first). The reboots tries way too hard to be realistic and filled with boring or dumb drama. Oh and Lara have some weird ideas of moral now.

    • And I personally didn’t have a problem with ‘weak’ Lara because I figured the events would harden her and make her tougher,

      Well she was already pretty strong willed as a young girl in the original games. I’m not sure why they changed that. She didn’t need anyone telling her to be confident, she already was through a lot of hard work and physical training as a child.

      Unfortunately, the weak Lara is still weak in ROTTR. She still whines about killing and still cries about her friends. No wise cracks, still very little confidence, and still a disconnect between not wanting to kill and killing 300 guys.

      have her not upset about killing and keep all the killing?

      Yes, actually. In the original games she never addressed it. Also Naughty Dog specifically mentioned that in Uncharted they DON’T have Drake acknowledge the kills otherwise he’ll come off as a psychopath. In most movies they do the same thing, like Indiana Jones.

      The only time you have someone acknowledge the kill is if it fits into the narrative. In the Tomb Raider reboots her acknowledging the killing going on doesn’t actually fit into the narrative. It creates narrative dissonance.

      It’s interesting because even in Metal Gear Solid the kills did play a role in the narrative and how the characters reacted to each other and the outcome of the mission.

  • Do not trust this Rhianna Prachett person. At the end of the day, she’s just another scumbag feminist pushing an agenda.

    Politics and realism simply do not belong in video games.

    • jlenoconel

      Politics don’t, but why not realism? I get saying realism doesn’t belong in games all the time, but it does enhance the story sometimes.

      • I think both can have their place in games. Politics and realism certainly enhance games like Deus Ex, Battlefield or Call of Duty, but less so for games like Street Fighter, Castlevania or Overwatch.

        I think Tomb Raider could have benefited from a more serious tone, with more grounded characters, but they really should have kept the overall theme of Lara and her abilities lighthearted enough to make her enjoyable to play and enjoyable to see on-screen as a legendary icon kicking butt and taking names. I think they could have struck a balance, like how they’ve treated the Captain America movies by putting him in more serious adventures but not stripping anything away from his character traits.

      • The kind of “realism” I mean is the fanservice one where SJWs/feminists use as an excuse to censor/ban things they personally dislike.

        You know, the “bikini armor doesn’t protect her whole body so it needs to change” and “Cindy Aurum is not appropriately dressed for a mechanic so it’s unacceptable” type garbage.

        We all know that they hate those things not because of the realism issue, but because it’s something that appeals to straight male gamers.

        This is further indicated by the fact that they only apply this “realism” to female human bodies. Other things like shooting fireballs, turning into dragons, jumping 20m, frying things with lighting, hovering in the air without propulsion, double jumping, mutating, summoning demons, calling meteors to fall from space, teleporting, turning people into chickens, etc. is completely ignored.

  • dirtysteve

    Games don’t need respect from the wider media.

    That is a goal for writers, and honestly, journalists in particular have proven,time and again, that they simply don’t care beyond today’s salacious headline.

  • ScarredBushido

    i said this on another site. Bring back the bad ass, sassy and big boobed lara.

    i know this reboot is a prequel to her future success but i still miss the old lara.

    • Don’t forget that in the old Tomb Raider, Lara was still badass even when she was young. In one of the games (TR3 or TR4) you started off when she was like 18, and she was still a feisty, go-getter who knew how to kickbutt and take names. It’s amazing how much they weakened this new Lara in order to make her more “realistic”.

      • ScarredBushido

        i’m ashamed to admit it but iv’e only played the first one and i think a bit of the second ( i think the second one you start off in her mansion? ). latley i have the craving to play old games, so it is on my list. do you know if they have aged well on the pc?

        speaking of realistic, that is what is wrong with a lot of series lately and i blame AAA and movie budgets for it.

        • I may not have liked the old games but I admit that I do own Tomb Raider Underworld because the game is gorgeous. The scenery, soundtrack and visuals are beyond enticing. It holds up really well… on PC.

          http://i.imgur.com/1eBxwXK.jpg

          http://i.imgur.com/48pHtAl.jpg

          Gameplay wise it’s all right, but Lara has some awesome acrobatic moves in that game.

          The older titles don’t hold up quite as well, in my opinion. But since I wasn’t much a fan I don’t think I’m a good source to say whether or not the other games worth getting.

          • jlenoconel

            The best Tomb Raider games were the early to mid 2000s games before it was rebooted.

          • ScarredBushido

            core design made a tomb raider game that didn’t sell well and ship off to another dev…shame really since they made the originals.

          • ScarredBushido

            wow that does look amazing. i have a backlog of games and anime….but dam. i also have the craving for C&C games now lol.

          • Disqusted

            That does look nice. And yeah, I agree that devs nowadays often throw good gameplay out, in exchange for immersion/realism.

    • jlenoconel

      Me too. She was super sassy.

  • LurkerJK

    I don’t think Tomb Raider deserves any more analysis, the gameplay was ok (better than uncharted imho) but the writing was so bad she came off as a psychopath,

    “oh im so sad i had to kill a deer” *kill 80 men with an ak-47, a bow and a climbing pick*.

    “oh im so sad my companions got kidnapped” *picks up a coin from the floor* “ah! this coin belonged to Queen whoever! AWESOME teheeehe :)” *kills another 80 guys* “boo, boo where is my father figure” *looks at a vase” *oh! that craftmanship! :)”

    Yes, I know all about her excuses, Mirror’s edge writing was shit because reasons, Tomb raider writing was shit because reasons, and i could keep filling that list with every game she worked on.

    Its not like a ton of game writers have to deal with the same situations as she did and manage to pull out a serviceable story.

    When you start to show a pattern though your career maybe the problem is YOU.

    I remember her just “hating” giving interviews to anyone with a blog back when Tomb Raider was released, R.Prattchett has to be the most overexposed, overrated and overinterviewed developer in history, Romero at least flew close to the sun and then crashed and burned in a few years, she keeps it going

    • Lara as a psychopath is a perfect explanation. She whines throughout both games about the evil dudes harming her friends, then kills them all violently… and kills their friends… and their friends friends.

      I remember in one segment she attempts to stealth through a camp using the trees. She eavesdrops on two patrolling guards who are talking about how they don’t know what’s going on and didn’t sign up for the crap show. One of them is talking about just wanting to get back home and he’s just doing his job as he’s paid to but didn’t want to kill people, and just then you have the opportunity to hop down and kill these guys with the pick-axe.

      It’s like there was zero self-awareness for the fact that they portrayed Lara as a psycho-murdering pacifist. She was like a bipolar Rambo.

  • Alistair

    I do Not that game you lot played because where i play it that scene on ps3 wasn’t present.

  • Kowalski

    I just want Tomb Raider to be a fun series again. Exploring tombs, solving puzzles, silly acrobatics, T-Rex boss fights… that’s Tomb Raider to me, not the super cereal torture porn/survival horror/quicktime event mess that the reboot series became.

    • I wasn’t much of a fan of the old games, but I did like that Lara and the Tomb Raider series had their own identity. Heck, they spawned all sorts of clones thereafter, from Pitfall 3D borrowing heavily from Tomb Raider, to Uncharted.

      This grim-dark, whiny, crying, weak Lara in the reboot series surrounded by death and Rambo-murderism is just strange. The fact they removed all her cool acrobatics made it even worse, especially since it forced the game to become a whack-a-mole, Gears of War clone.

      Based on what Pratchett was saying, it sounded like the grim-dark weak-arse whiny Lara was Crystal Dynamics’ decision. We’ll see if that’s true when Tomb Raider 3 rolls around.

      • LurkerJK

        If everyone tells her what to write and how to write it taking all her say on the matter, why is she even needed or credited as lead writer ?

        • Well, she came up with the whole courier aspect to the first Mirror’s Edge and helped devise the name as well (smart choice). I actually liked what she did with the first Mirror’s Edge even though the story was shallow. The game needed a shallow story… it was just a momentum-based parkour game.

          They scrapped the simple story that she came up with in the first game for that convoluted mess that was Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, where they turned Faith from a simple courier into a super hero who had to save the world from an entirely not-so-evil guy. By comparison it makes the first Mirror’s Edge look like a Charles Dickens masterpiece.

          • LurkerJK

            The name is good, i think Mirror’s Edge was memorable and fit the setting, i didn’t know it was credited to her

            The courier idea i wont praise, wtf cant they just use encrypted emails, dead drops or drone drops ? how many packages do they lose per week when it rains and the ninja couriers start slipping on puddles ?

            And they are a problem bad enough to make a specialized police squad ? Just oil up every building pipe and watch the problem solve itself, lol

            what is this ? the ending of batman begins ?
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EMUm8Zsfrk&t=0m30s

          • And they are a problem bad enough to make a specialized police squad ? Just oil up every building pipe and watch the problem solve itself, lol

            Ahahaha…. that’s hilarious. That would make a great Robot Chicken episode.

            I actually thought the courier thing was cool because it reminded me of the game Courier Crisis.

            The first Mirror’s Edge was just a template for making a fun game. After Pratchett explained what they had done with it and how story was just tacked on to tie together the gameplay they already built, it made me appreciate it that much more because it explained why it was so much more engaging as a gameplay experience than Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. You could tell that ME1 was a passion project.

          • LurkerJK

            There are stories that would have fit those levels, the most obvious one :
            First minute: She is ninja-robbing some place and finds a stiff VIP
            Rest of the game: run run run as fast as you can and try to get to one that set you up who is conveniently on the top of some tall building waiting for you
            no need to make it more complex, there was no need for the courier or the dystopian government thing if they were not willing to elaborate, sometimes you need to embrace simplicity, many modern games fall into the sin of overcomplicating their plots

            Story aside i did like the game a lot, the levels were very interesting to navigate and looking at, i was very dissapointed when i looked at ME2 footage … switching tight, well designed environments for copy and paste open world, wtf thought that was a good idea, i couldnt force myself to play it, not even the eyepatch version

          • Well one of the reasons I liked the courier thing over a thief or cops and robber thing (and funnily enough she mentioned that that’s originally what they were going to go with) is because a courier would make more sense to take the non-violent route. As a thief, there’s that tendency to go GTA on everybody.

            More-so, though, I thought the courier aspect would have been better exploited in a parkour game for timed quests. Delivering packages as quickly as possible while running across the rooftops. It was the one thing I thought they would have added as side-quests but since the story was a last minute thing, I can see why they didn’t really exploit that much. They over-compensated for Faith being a courier in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

            I thought the concept would have fit well for making a bunch of sequels without it getting bogged down in narrative. As a courier Faith could always be a third-fiddle in the story, like Mario in the Super Mario games. It’s an exploitable series because there is no character or narrative progression, Mario can keep saving the princess or fighting baddies because he’s not integral to any storytelling mechanics.

            I had hoped they would have done the same with faith, where she always gets caught up in some dangerous conspiracy/ordeal just trying to deliver packages.

            I think not making her a criminal made it different from Thief, Dishonored and GTA, but making her a courier also put her in a position to be in very dangerous situations, like the movie Premium Rush.

          • LurkerJK

            Lol, you just want Christopher Nolan to make a gritty reboot videogame of paperboy

          • LOL… that would be fantastic. It would be like Rad meets Repo meets Inception.

      • lucben999

        I’m a fan of the old Core Design Tomb Raider games, the appeal of those to me was that they were slow paced, methodical and unforgiving platforming/exploration games with well designed labyrinthine levels. Imagine a proto Dark Souls with fairly complex platforming instead of combat, that’s basically what the old TR games were for me.

        • I loved the mechanics, but I hated how janky they were. Level designs reminded me of claustrophobic renditions of the level mazes from The Last Guardian, with no idea where to go or what to do sometimes. I remember spending hours in that one Venice stage because I just couldn’t figure out for the longest where to go.

          Then again, a lot of that was the problem of camera control (or a lack thereof), level design structure and the oftentimes blurry textures that made it difficult to know what you could climb and what you couldn’t.

          If they could bring back the exploration/platform difficulty but with today’s tech and with Lara’s cool acrobatic abilities, maybe it could be pretty awesome.

    • Kageyama

      I really dislike the reboot too. I don’t even know why is called Tomb Raider in the first place when this is something else.

    • ScarredBushido

      don’t forget those fucking bears 😛

    • I haven’t played Rise of the Tomb Raider, but the reboot TR was the first one I actually liked. For fans of the original game it’s maybe not what you wanted, but for me its entirely the reverse. I am now a total Lara fan.

  • Disqusted

    That scene is hilarious if you intentionally prolong either outcome forever. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

    • LurkerJK

      The game has a lot of hilarious situations, right after almost every sad cutscene you can find a collectable and hear Lara’s excited 12 year old self “ooh what a find!, marvelous! :)”

      How the hell can you take that as anything other than a psychopath that is just acting like she gives a shit ?

    • durka durka

      The funny thing is someone has made a gangbang video with lara based on that scene and the media did cover it and no one batted and eye.