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Jin Uzuki
09-05-06, 16:32
Very, very interesting article. :tmb:

How Lara Croft Steals Hearts
By Clive Thompson

Lara Croft's back and she's as bodacious as ever. In the new Tomb Raider: Legend, Eidos has crafted its heroine using its usual blend of Indiana Jones and Victoria's Secret. As she runs through the catacombs, Croft's spectacular chest heaves and her behind wiggles. In quiet moments between action sequences, she stretches up on tiptoes and arches her back, to get the kinks out. Ahem.

She's a piece of cheesecake, all right. And among cultural pundits, this is the prevailing wisdom about why young men so loved Tomb Raider when it debuted in 1996. Teenage boys are horny; teenage boys like to ogle hot women; Tomb Raider allowed them to drool over Croft for hours on end. This dismal equation, as the theory goes, also explains the subsequent explosion of games with hot-chick characters, from Bloodrayne to the undulating mass of Tecmo's Dead or Alive vixens. Once again, the basest urges of young men had coarsened society -- right?

I beg to differ. I think young boy gamers loved Lara for reasons that were considerably stranger. They weren't just ogling her: They were identifying with her. Playing the role of a hot, sexy woman in peril -- surrounded by violence on all sides -- was, unexpectedly, a totally electric experience for young guys.

I am not merely pulling this argument out of my butt. I'm basing it on a famous piece of film theory: the "Final Girl" concept of slasher movies.

The Final Girl theory emerged in 1985, when Carol Clover -- a medievalist and feminist film critic -- was dared by a friend to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Back then, most feminist theorists loathed slasher films, and regarded them as classic examples of male misogyny. It wasn't hard to figure out why: Thousands of young men were trooping into theaters to cheer wildly as masked psychos hacked apart screaming young women. That really didn't look good.

But as Clover sat in the theaters, she noticed something curious. Sure, the young men would laugh and cheer as the villain hunted down his female prey. But eventually the movie would whittle down the victims to one last terrified woman -- the Final Girl, as Clover called her. Suddenly, the young men in the audience would switch their allegiance -- and begin cheering just as madly for the Final Girl as she attacked and killed the psycho.

This, Clover argued, was not mere garden-variety sexism. On the contrary, it was a generation of young guys who apparently identified strongly with the situation of a woman who faced agonizing peril yet came out victorious. The slasher dynamic was unprecedented in film history: "The idea of a female who outsmarts, much less outfights -- or outgazes -- her assailant (was) unthinkable," Clover wrote. With this new crop of slasher movies, the young men in the audience essentially became the Final Girl: exhausted, freaked out and ultimately triumphant. They weren't just ogling the sexual violence. They were submitting to it.

The sexuality of young men, Clover concluded, is profoundly weirder than you'd imagine.

I think she's right, and what's more, I think her idea maps perfectly onto the success of Tomb Raider. As with the slasher flicks, there's a Final Girl dynamic: a constantly threatened woman, fighting for her very survival, attacking goons on every side -- and a captive audience of young men. Playing as Croft was an emotionally catalytic experience. Young guys had played tons of male characters before, from Nintendo's Mario to the anonymous marines of Doom. But being Lara was different; it got its hooks into their psyches like no game before.

"I feel like I'm sort of in charge of protecting her -- which is to say, protecting me," as one gamer told me back then. "Both at once. It's really unusual." I've noticed it myself. When I control my avatar in almost any game, I'm pretty engaged. But when I play as Croft, the game is an order of magnitude more intense: I find myself sucking in my breath, involuntarily ducking at virtual obstacles.

Of course, in today's gaming world, the idea that young men secretly crave to be hot, imperiled virtual women doesn't seem as unusual as it might have in 1998. After all, half the women in online worlds are played by young guys who've actively chosen their virtual gender.

I'm not suggesting a good part of Croft's allure is not, in fact, straightforward titillation. (Even more sexually charged than her bouncy pixels is her voice acting: If you're wearing headphones, those soft grunts as she hauls herself onto a ledge practically qualify as phone sex.) And it's also true that being Lara -- or any other impossibly curvy avatar -- is undoubtedly a whole different experience for women gamers.

But the next time you see prepubescent boys playing Legend on the demo machines at Wal-Mart, take a closer look at their glazed expressions of concentration. There's more going on there than meets the eye.

Link: Wired News - How Lara Croft Steals Hearts (http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,70712-0.html?tw=wn_story_page_prev2)

:wve:

Legend of Lara
09-05-06, 16:36
Interesting indeed!

BlackGrey
09-05-06, 16:47
I am glad some one cleared that up :p

Elysia
09-05-06, 16:52
I've heard something like this before - it's very interesting. Another psychologist also put forward a theory that Lara taps into the male need to 'protect', and that her ultra-feminine curves enhances the visual stimulus to create a strong feeling of 'protection' and 'nurture' in the (male) player (although, as a female gamer, I feel just as protective towards her :tmb: ).

Lara is considered by many as the first game character that made us really want to keep her alive - we feel *bad* if we let her die, not because it is frustrating, but because we feel we have let her down for allowing her to get hurt - we feel a strong need to keep her safe;to protect her; to nurture her progress through increasing danger.

interstellardave
09-05-06, 16:54
I've never analyzed it myself but I always prefer playing as a female character in any game that gives me a choice... be it adventure, action, or sports like Tennis.

Shark_Blade
09-05-06, 17:52
I like the article a lot:D

Lavinder
09-05-06, 18:06
Great article, it was a fun read.

Yes, my loins burned everytime she sexily grunted pushing that oh so heavy block :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Shauni
09-05-06, 18:12
..Lara is considered by many as the first game character that made us really want to keep her alive - we feel *bad* if we let her die, not because it is frustrating, but because we feel we have let her down for allowing her to get hurt - we feel a strong need to keep her safe;to protect her; to nurture her progress through increasing danger.

I don't know, have you seen all of the "Lara death" threads where they post about how they enjoy throeing Lara off the mountain side? :rolleyes: :D

Airave
09-05-06, 18:22
LOL!! Men of all ages, not just teens,
are "horny" and enjoy "ogling" hot women.
At least most of us.

Lara is eye candy and I don't nind following her around,
but (no pun intended:D )- I don't know how many of you
have even done live nude drawing/painting/photography-
it is indeed like that. Once you get into the work (or play)
you become focussed on the tasks at hand and "forget"
the sexual aspect for the most part. I assume Gynocologists
are like that too.

Still, it preferable to me to paint or photograph attractive
sexy models- and solve puzzles, fight opponants, search for
artifacts with one, any ol' day.:)

Lara is a woman, I am a man. We are Partners in Crime.

My take on it- from my perspective and experience.

Melonie Tomb Raider
09-05-06, 18:29
I know that it's claimedt hat people don't liek to see Lara die in the game, but I completely disagree. I think TR is one of the most fun games to die in. Even magazine and internet reviews stated thatt hey would die on teh interactive cutscenes on purpose, because it's fun. I've always thought it was funto kill Lara, and still do. As weird as that sounds. :vlol:

For me, the game I hate dying on most is Splinter Cell. I always feel so disapointed in myself. I think, "I made Sam fail the mission!" Even though I will beat it after dying a few times, in my mind I didn't complete the mission properly because I had to die first. lol.

Umibozu
09-05-06, 19:49
i love lara because she is simply perfect - beatiful, athletic, independent, smart, educated, amusing, and so on... Also, there's that uncommon atmosphere around her, like her aristochratic backgrounds that puts her out of reach, her huge knowledge about a lot of subjects, her incredible athletic skills etc, and most important the fact that she doesn't exist.

tombraider123
09-05-06, 20:32
That's actually very true, teenage boys will not buy Tomb Raider to look at her ( maybe some will ).

But, they actually enjoy the games, not just to look at Lara :D

Melonie Tomb Raider
09-05-06, 21:19
i love lara because she is simply perfect

I dislike "perfect" people to be quite honest. Flaws are what make people who they are, and it makes them more real. I always thought Lara was too perfect. Not in her looks, I think a lot needs fixed in that area; however, if you notice things like her swan dive. Every single attempt is absolutely flawless! She's better than an Olympic diver! She's also more skilled than an Olympic Gymnast! These are just two examples. It seems like she is better than the best in absolutely everything she does. That's just cheesey in my opinion.

Sure, I love seeing Lara's beautiful swandives, but I'd enjoy it a lot more if every once in a while her legs don't stay perfectly straight as they should, or something to that effect. Flaws are what make people who they are.

Of course I"m not saying that if some one is doing something wrong they should continue, but I think you understand what I mean. What some character designers don't understand is that people actually like flaws in their favorite characters. Just like with real people. When you admire some one, you admire their imperfections as well. At least for me anyway.

MiCkiZ88
09-05-06, 21:22
people might think they r perfect.. from looks that is.. but denitaly not perfect from mind... never mind me.. this was about lara not my opinions :D

xMiSsCrOfTx
09-05-06, 21:23
But the next time you see prepubescent boys playing Legend on the demo machines at Wal-Mart, take a closer look at their glazed expressions of concentration. There's more going on there than meets the eye.

:vlol:

Thanks for the article! :wve:

Jin Uzuki
10-05-06, 02:01
...beatiful, athletic, independent, smart, educated, amusing, and so on... Also, there's that uncommon atmosphere around her, like her aristochratic backgrounds that puts her out of reach, her huge knowledge about a lot of subjects, her incredible athletic skills etc, and most important the fact that she doesn't exist.
All of that, I like in her, except her being 'perfect'. :wve:

You're welcome, Alyssa. :)

Umibozu
10-05-06, 08:14
I dislike "perfect" people to be quite honest. Flaws are what make people who they are, and it makes them more real. I always thought Lara was too perfect. Not in her looks, I think a lot needs fixed in that area; however, if you notice things like her swan dive. Every single attempt is absolutely flawless! She's better than an Olympic diver! She's also more skilled than an Olympic Gymnast! These are just two examples. It seems like she is better than the best in absolutely everything she does. That's just cheesey in my opinion.

Sure, I love seeing Lara's beautiful swandives, but I'd enjoy it a lot more if every once in a while her legs don't stay perfectly straight as they should, or something to that effect. Flaws are what make people who they are.

Of course I"m not saying that if some one is doing something wrong they should continue, but I think you understand what I mean. What some character designers don't understand is that people actually like flaws in their favorite characters. Just like with real people. When you admire some one, you admire their imperfections as well. At least for me anyway.


you got a point... but lara is what she is also because she is that way... if she had flaws she would have died in one of her weird adventures :P and as for the perfect swan dives... i agree, but she is not real, if you believe that someone with that body could do the moves she does (like jumping or hand standing while hanging from a cliff, or moving huge granite blocks, and so on - i mean, she should have biceps three times the size she has, provided that moves are actually possibile for a human being) you can believe she also always do perfect swan dives :P