Some rather disturbing food for thought just came to my attention about Square-Enix/Crystal Dynamics' new Tomb Raider reboot.
It seems it's garnering some controversy due to statements, or rather a statement, that was made during this year's E3 showing. Crystal Dynamics' Game Producer Ron Rosenberg was quoted:
"You see that in the beginning of the game, where we begin to build her up and give her confidence to cross the ledge, cross the plane, she forages for food and she’s feeling really successful. Then towards the end we start to really hit her, and to break her down. Her best friend is kidnapped, she’s taken hostage, she’s almost raped, we put her in this position where we turned her into a cornered animal.”
The moment this statement made its way to the internet, the collective fanbase went into almost literal meltdown. Lines were drawn, insults were tossed like frag grenades, friendships were ultimately shattered, the casualties of the word war began to surface.
O.K. I'll admit. Maybe I'm being a little melodramatic about it all...
But those three words ignited a very heated discussion about how far a developer can, or rather should, push the boundaries on creative freedom. Some were morally outraged that Crystal Dynamics would mentally push the player to experience such a violent and brutal element in the game. Some were erroneously stated as saying that they'd never do this to a male protagonist in a game, so why should they do something like this to a female counterpart?
Which I say to these people that they are, unfortunately, incorrect. Because the precedent has already been set. For both the male and female camps.
F.E.A.R. 2 ended with interspersed scenes of Alma sexually assaulting the game's protagonist, Michael Becket, while he was hallucinating and trying to destroy apparitions of a maddened Sergeant Keegan. The game ends with Alma walking up to Becket, placing his hand on her stomach, and an ominous child-like voice whispers the word "Mommy..."
And if you've ever played Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, there's an interactive...I guess you could call it a struggle...between photojournalist Madison Paige and an alleged murderer/rapist. Which, if you fail to pass through, leads to her death.
So on both accounts, scenes of sexual (or even suggestive sexual) assault have already been done. The big question is though; to what extent will Crystal Dynamics attempt to "push the envelope" during this upcoming scene? Will it be like the interactive elements experienced in Heavy Rain, where failure to overcome certain circumstances lead to her being assaulted (and obvious death), or will it all fall into something that's yanked out of the control of the player, ala F.E.A.R 2 where, at the end of this encounter, failure to meet these circumstances lead to the same thing?
I know this is a Mature rated game. I know certain scenes involving a younger Miss Croft will not be the sugar coated vanilla we've experienced before, and for that attempt, at the very least, Crystal Dynamics should be applauded. Redefining a very iconic character for a new generation of fans, while still trying to maintain the appeal that made her that icon in the first place, cannot be an easy task for them to accomplish.
But where do (or rather where should) a developer draw the line between what is appropriate, as opposed to what will infuriate and divide a community of fans (and quite possibly more than a few *ahem* News outlets) currently weighing the pros and cons of a very hot button topic with regards to artistic integrity and developer freedoms?
Your thoughts are, as always, appreciated.
For the record, I personally don't think it's going to be as bad as the media is currently playing it up as.
But then again I could be wrong.
Causing an Effect
Blog entry posted by wastelander75, Jun 14, 2012.
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