Lara Croft: The Evolution Of The Female Protagonist

Lara Croft: The Evolution Of The Female Protagonist
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No doubt, the gaming industry is changing every day. Things that seemed to be impossible years ago are now happening on the regular. Records are being broken with each new release and there is so much more room for growth from developers. Among these changes are the roles of female protagonists in gaming. The old provocative and lifeless bombshells we used to see are now being replaced by strong performances and assuring realism. These things draw us gamers in better than a bunch of ridiculously girly women who solve their problems with their pretty faces.

The Old Days: A Look At Lara Croft

The gaming industry used to play up one signature marketing strategy, “sex sells”. Don’t get me wrong, it made complete sense why developers would market their games with the most beautiful women they could possibly create. Each intricately crafted female was created with the goal of making every guy drool over them while they spent hours getting acquainted on their consoles. Men were the biggest consumer of video games, so developers catered to what guys wanted. Think about how women were portrayed back then. They would wear the tightest clothing to go with their long hair, full lips, and big chest. A perfect example of this is Lara Croft before the 2013 reboot changed the way we saw her.

Lara Croft was AMAZING! Come to think about it. She was too amazing. Everything she was able to do was on another level, which added to her appeal and luster. The way she was designed was no accident either. Calf-high boots, tank top and two pistols on her hip made her one of the most alluring characters to grace our television screens. The reason being, as I said before, was to drive sales, which definitely worked like a charm. With the creation of Lara, we had our first opportunity to see how powerful a sexy character could be when it came down to boosting sales. She also introduced gamers to a fresh idea. Think about it, describe the characters you usually see as the “good guy” in your favorite video game. We are used to seeing a huge guy with big veiny arms as our main protagonist, but Lara showed us that a pretty female could also play the tough guy role, and look good doing it!

Things Have Changed

Let’s use Ms. Croft as an example again, but this time, focus on the 2013 version of Lara. She still is AMAZING and if you ask me, she’s even more amazing than her predecessor. What’s different, you ask? Well, for starters, she looks different. She still has the tank top, she still has a ponytail and she still has a pistol on her hip. BUT, she is and looks a lot more realistic. You don’t need to do somersaults and cartwheels to be a threat to a bunch of crooks, and you definitely don’t need a set of tight clothes to draw people in. The new Lara is more personable, more realistic, and much more inviting.

lara croft

Watching her during her first journey built a connection.The new Croft was someone we could feel connected to. Remember when she killed her first bad guy? I almost cried! Well, not really, but you get the idea. She went through a lot as she traversed the threatening island, and through it all, she managed to stay driven. She had the personality and the drive that the old Croft lacked. Instead of playing with an elite treasure hunter, we started off with a frail archeologist and we got to watch as she developed into something special. We were there through the whole process, which constructed a bond between Lara and anyone who played with her.

Still Not Buying It?

There are plenty of female characters who are based on the more strong-willed and complex design as described above. Think about a few of the heavy-hitters from last year. Can’t think of any? I got you covered!

Aloy: Horizon Zero Dawn

2B: Nier Automata

Chloe: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Chloe Price: Life Is Strange: Before the Storm

Ellie The Last of Us Part 2

Okay, The Last of Us Part 2 isn’t out yet, but you get the idea. All of these characters focus on story rather than all-out action and pretty features. I’m sure there are people out there who think that a few of these characters are breathtaking in their appearance, but that isn’t the main focus of who they are. They have so much more to offer and their looks are just a fraction of their allure.

last of us part 2

Why Should You Care

Watching how the characters we play within gaming have changed so much goes to show you how we have changed as gamers. We are more mature, we are more complex, we crave more than just looks and senseless action! Developers have to cater to what we want, and while they still have a lot of leeway in their creativity, these games are all leaning toward complexity rather than simplicity.

Now, there are plenty of games out there that like to drive sales the same way as they were driven in the past, but they aren’t as prevalent in the community. Most of the AAA game releases will feature a more relatable hero or heroine. A lot of fans don’t realize how much of a pivotal role we play when influencing the development of games. The industry needs to know what we want and the more we voice our opinions the better. So get out there, join a community, and voice your opinion. Heck, why not start out with Mammoth Gamers. You’re already here aren’t ya? Go ahead and bookmark this page and make us your new home!

Full-time gamer dedicated nerd. I enjoy playing just about any type of video game, watching super-hero movies and even the occassional anime shows. Don't be a stranger, find me on facebook and twitter!