For the second entry in our Women’s History Month look at some of the most badass female characters in gaming, let’s talk about a character whose legacy spans over two decades, and seventeen titles: the nearly unrivaled Lara Croft. This is a woman whose appearance, skills, and environments have constantly evolved over the years. However, she’s always retained that badass personality & attitude.
Many of us have had a fondness for Lara since her first foray into video games back in 1996, with the original Tomb Raider. She has always been presented as a strong, independent, no-nonsense character, with a knack for getting herself out of some pretty sticky situations, and that just seems to add to her appeal with gamers. With her twin pistols, and ever-evolving ability to run, swim, climb, and fight her way through caves & lost cities all over the world, Lara Croft has endeared herself to gamers everywhere. In doing so, she has also helped to set the bar for the creation of strong female characters in games, comic books, cosplay, and movies alike.
Croft’s existence as a badass female character has also led to what some may see as an interesting piece of commentary on consent & women’s rights. While many gamers still seem to focus on her physique, rather than who she is as a character, the writers of 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider took the notion of her gender and decided to show what happens when you corner her. The inclusion of a controversial scene in that game, in which gamers theorize that one of the scavengers in the game is attempting to sexually assault Lara, brought her gender to the forefront, and showed that she could power through some serious trauma in her life while still being a serious ass-kicker. The scene also gives young women gamers who may have gone through the same type of thing someone with whom they can identify.
Over the past 20 years, game developers have been able to not only portray Lara Croft as a kick-ass adventurer and fighter, but really bring a humanity to her character which other, more male-driven games seem to lack. Lara’s personality is far from the one-note warrior trope that we’ve seen in other games in the adventure genre, and really makes her a likeable character. Her ingenuity & courage in the face of some seriously scary odds should be an inspiration – not only to young women, but to game developers who want to know how to create good heroines in their games.
From the very first Tomb Raider title, all the way up to 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft continues to be a badass, and it’s this writer’s hope that she will forever be considered a role model for young women everywhere. Here’s to 20 more years of badassery, Lady Croft!