Video game characters rarely get to enjoy any sort of celebrity of their own. They’re usually just afterthoughts; something we think back on if we liked the game enough, but mostly they’re just vessels to help get us through the game. There are, however, a few exceptions—and there may be none greater than the Tomb Raider herself, Lara Croft.
Bursting onto the scene in 1996, everyone’s favourite British archeologist served as the protagonist in the ground-breaking and influential Tomb Raider. Though much of the praise for the game was cast upon its (at the time) state-of-the-art graphics and innovative game play, it didn’t take long for Eidos Interactive to realize they had something special on their hands. The success of the game led to a new release every year until 2003, with the main character becoming more prominent in the marketing of the game, as well as the game itself. She would become a titular character in 1999, as the series was re-branded Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Croft was viewed as a pioneer for women in video games; a no-nonsense hard ass who was armed to the teeth but also capable of using her brain as much as her brawn to get out of any tricky scenarios. From her very inception, she was the one doing the saving and never being saved, running towards danger when everyone else ran away. She didn’t just hang with the big boys—she was one.
She was not met without her detractors, however. Some felt that Croft was just a token character whose sexuality was being used to sell games and nothing more. The complaints weren’t without merit—both in her character design and artwork she was depicted as a buxom beauty donning merely a tank top and cargo Daisy-Dukes, with pistols strapped to the garter belts on her thighs. But maybe that’s what she needed to be. Her appearance may have helped sell the games, but it’s her attitude and individuality that made her resonate. Croft helped show that people can be more than their appearance, and that women can take the lead in the action-adventure genre, even before Hollywood was casting women to lead such films.
Croft was a trailblazer, doing what no one else was, and that was what made her so popular. Even now that times have changed, they’ve managed to adapt her look. She no longer dons her iconic garb, instead opting for the much more practical pants, and her hourglass figured has been made to resemble a real human being. And yet still she stands at the forefront of video games, one of the few characters to come after the first popularization of games that has truly stood the test of time.
Because it was never really about her looks, not after you played the game at least. Once you got to know Lara, see what she was really about, it didn’t matter what she was wearing or how her figure looked. She was a radiating, unstoppable force, and it doesn’t look like that is about to change anytime soon.
Once described as “The perfect amount of straight forward”, Alex is a 2nd-year student in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program, with hopes of becoming a screenwriter in the future.