Tomb Raider ‘rape’ controversy continues to dog Crystal Dynamics

One word. Four letters. With a very powerful meaning.

Crystal Dynamics executive producer Ron Rosenberg used the word ‘rape’ to describe an attack of heroine Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider game.

It was accurate, reflecting what we’d seen in the trailer. But in the light of the Hitman trailer controversy, sexual violence directed towards women has never been a hotter issue in gaming – and the developer is still struggling to cope with the comments.

"He said something which is certainly a word that is not in our vocabulary and not in our communication," Crystal Dynamics global brand director Karl Stewart said to Kotaku of Rosenberg’s statement.

"He did say it… It’s his personal opinion and certainly… like I said, it’s not something that we communicate.

We have a female character that we’re very proud and very honoured to be able to have in our game and build a story around. And by giving her motivation to become the stronger action-adventure hero and the girl that’s willing to fight to stay alive and move forward throughout the game, we use that device and that intimidation to make her stronger. To make her feel empowered and to take her beyond that breaking point where she realizes the severity of the situation and she’s willing to fight to stay alive.

That is a hard subject because I believe and the studio believes that it is a subject that we see played out in many ways through movies and TV shows and I think in our medium we are trying to bring an immersive narrative to which- in all the research and all the work that we do in building the story and building this game, we take it to many different places. And this isn’t something that’s uncommon in story narrative.

And what we’re trying to do is in a way, as you know, raise the bar of story-telling – how Lara Croft how that plays out how you interpret it… as you play the game out for yourself, as you review the game and try to answer how you felt from that input, we’re trying to raise the bar in immersive storytelling through the video game.

So I’m being careful in that we’re not choosing to say ‘this is a word we want to be associated with that’, that is not the case.”

Last week Eidos life president Ian Livingstone also tried to downplay the saga, saying: There was a momentary threat to Lara which she overcame in two seconds. The reaction has been quite extreme.”

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