The community reaction to the rape comments made about Lara Croft in light of the recent Tomb Raider trailers was "quite extreme" and "blown out of proportion", according to Eidos life president Ian Livingston. Oh, is that all it was? My bad, I guess.
Livingston, of course, was referring to the giant debacle caused when Tomb Raider executive producer Ron Rosenberg described a moment in the latest trailer as attempted rape, adding that Lara Croft's vulnerabilities would make gamers want to "protect" her; not exactly the wisest description given the outbreak of "sexism in video games" headlines we've seen a lot of recently.
According to Livingstone, Rosenberg's comments were a "live interview that went slightly wrong."
"Quotes were misinterpreted and blown out of proportion," he told an audience at the Game Horizon conference in Newcastle.
While the issue of rape can be explored in movies, games are held to a double standard in that the user controls the action.
“I think about my responsibility as a developer – films can deal with these themes, but it’s different in games when the user controls the action," he explained. “We should be celebrating what’s great about the game.”
Livingston's statements echo that of Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher who also commented: "Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game." This was also in attempt to clarify Rosenberg's comments.
Whether or not the actions that took place in the trailer can be considered rape is a whole other story. But to say people overreacted to the situation is just ignorant. If the trailer or comments made people feel a certain way, then who is Livingston to say people "blew it out of proportion"? They reacted the way they reacted because of the actions that went down. It may have been misinterpreted, but that's still the way the general public perceived it.
With that being said, I don't agree that games can't explore the issue of rape. I'm not saying that should be the primary motivating force behind a player's action, but if we are to consider games as a form of art then why can't we explore the same themes as other mediums? You just need to think of a smarter way to approach it – and not compare Lara to a wounded animal that needs protecting. There's a difference, one that Eidos apparently still hasn't learned.