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Tomb Raider lead writer sees "no reason" to avoid sensitive storytelling themes in games

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Tomb Raider controversy

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While fun is their primary goal, games often portray themes courting controversy as a means of conveying more meaningful and mature experiences. Crystal Dynamics' reboot of Tomb Raider pairs the franchise's staple action-heavy content with a younger, frightened, and more vulnerable Lara Croft -- human-like traits of weakness which came into focus after a particular scene within gameplay footage shown at this year's E3 included an apparent rape attempt (opens in new tab) on the battered explorer. Crystal Dynamics later quieted the ensuing public outcry by disproving any perceived themes of sexual assault, but in a new interview with GameSpot (opens in new tab) , Tomb Raider Lead Writer Rhianna Pratchett sees "no reason" why general game storytelling shouldn't touch upon sensitive topics.

"That is, as long as it's not done for titillation, but in a thoughtful way, with integrity and context," Pratchett added. "The world doesn't need any more Japanese rape-simulators. But we simply can't call ourselves a serious storytelling medium if we exclude topics which are routinely covered in weeknight soap operas."

Pratchett also said she believes approaching such topics ultimately forms stronger bonds between characters and players by virtue of concern for the well-being of the personalities encountered in games. "The link between player and player character is a uniquely personal one," she stated. "Personally, whether I'm a hulking Tauren druid, a boy with psychic powers, or Lara Croft, I inhabit that character. I am them and they are me. That's largely the approach I tried to bring to my work."

The rest of GameSpot's interview (opens in new tab) offers more insight from Pratchett.

Omri Petitte is a former PC Gamer associate editor and long-time freelance writer covering news and reviews. If you spot his name, it probably means you're reading about some kind of first-person shooter. Why yes, he would like to talk to you about Battlefield. Do you have a few days?