Rise of the Tomb Raider is an Action-Adventure game developed by Crystal Dynamics, published by Square Enix and Microsoft Studios, and written by Rhianna Pratchett. It was released in November 2015 for the Xbox One, January 2016 for PC, and October 2016 for Playstation 4. As a sequel to to the 2013 game entitled Tomb Raider it follows the story of Lara Croft venturing into Siberia in search of the Lost City of Kietzh. I finished the main story and the Baba Yaga DLC in January 2017 but this article is written primarily from memory with internet searches to help fine tune the details of the events.
This is the first of four posts and focuses on the characters and their design and discusses how they treat both male and female characters. If you haven’t read the research post in this series you might want to start there.
Who Are The Characters?
Part of the research highlighted commonalities between adverts for games and the way women and men are depicted. This series aims to count the number of named male and female characters and see how many of them are sexually dressed, portrayed aggressively, and having a body type that conforms to Dill & Thill’s research.
In the main story of this game there were nine named characters. Five were male, Elias, Jacob, Jonah, Konstantin, and Richard; and four were female, Amelia, Ana, Lara, and Sofia. The Baba Yaga DLC also added three additional characters that you met while playing the main story. Of these there was one additional male (Ivan) and two females (Nadia and Serafima).
From the named characters mentioned above, all – with the exception of Amelia and Richard, and Elias who dies very early on – kill or are placed in a situation where they will be killed if they don’t. This doesn’t necessarily mean they were portrayed aggressively but for most it does.
- Lara, it’s the purpose of the game; you can’t get through the game without aggressive portrayal.
- Jonah, who is there at the start in a peaceful manner, reappears only to be kidnapped. While kidnapped he is subjected to physical violence and ends up battering his captor.
- Jacob and Sofia have dedicated their lives to protecting their colony. Jacob seems to come across peacefully but he has no qualms about defending his village even if that means the death of others. Due to his backstory I have to put him as being portrayed aggressively too, there’s no way he isn’t if he caused the amount of devastation depicted in the journals. Sofia is in the same camp except she explicitly points her bow and arrow at Lara with the aim of taking her life making it a lot easier to put her in the aggressive portrayal camp.
- Ana is shown pointing a gun at Lara as well as talking about “breaking” Lara.
- Konstantin not only tries to kill you with a helicopter but is also shown to beat others and is by far the most aggressive of all the characters.
- Ivan goes into the valley in the Baba Yaga DLC with the intention of killing the witch. Though we never see him do anything violent, Nadia believes he will and his diary entries paint the picture that he had been violent towards others before and will kill the witch if he can.
- Serafima tries to kill Lara as well as multiple soldiers so she’s obviously portrayed aggressively.
- Nadia is a tough one. We rescue her from some Trinity soldiers, yet she was almost prepared to fight us and later is prepared to defend herself. I’m not sure we saw enough or that enough was implied to count her as aggressively portrayed though.
The Character Design
For outfits, very few would classify as sexually dressed. Amelia and Richard you never see in game and everyone else is suitably dressed for the cold setting where most of the game takes place. However, there are multiple outfits for Lara to wear, and the research defined “sexually dressed” as low cut tops, therefore Lara has to be classified as a sexually dressed character purely because the player has the option to make her wear outfits that meet this definition. On a personal note, I don’t see anything sexual about these outfits but I want to be fair across the board and that means going with the definition given in the research article.
When it comes to Dill & Thill’s sexualised ideal body type, none of the women fit the classification. None of them have the large breasts, provocative dress or pose requirements. When looking at the men, Konstantin definitely comes under this. He has the chiselled jaw, large muscles, and often displays the power or dominance required to meet the classification.