The five most retrospectively creepy pieces about Lara Croft

Games journalism has come on a lot in a little over a decade.

Over the last few days, I've been playing the new Tomb Raider title, and reading up on the older games in the series. One of the things which has most struck me is how much more sophisticated the general level of discussion is on mainstream gaming magazines and websites these days. 

Anyway, I thought I would share a couple of gems with you. I'm going to read back a couple of these next time I feel down about sexism in games. Yes, we've got a way to go, but look how far we've come. After all, remember Nude Raider?

 

1. Women! What are they about?

Women. What an incredibly perplexing creation. On one hand, they can be beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, engaging, and on occasion, down right awe inspiring. On the other, they can be ugly, spiteful, shallow, heartless, ambiguous and deliberately deceptive to the point of frustration that borders on insanity. But still, we come back for more.

- IGN review of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation in 2000 

 

2. "Bigger tits for Lara Croft"

Lara Croft's breasts are to get a boost for the new version of Tomb Raider. According to the game's designers, her 38D assets [see Technical Briefing below] will be given "more definition". They won't necessarily be bigger but will have added detail - so, presumably they will look bigger. We're also waiting on an answer as to whether this extra "detail" will include nipples.

Of course this is all PR nonsense to raise interest in the game and, as a Reg staffer pointed out, you never get to see them anyway because you're always behind her.

We are unable to confirm whether Core Design will include a new viewing angle purely to enjoy the game's latest enhancements. But don't worry. Apparently, her arse will also be rounder. Incidentally, the woman chosen to play Lara in some upcoming hype-led crap movie only has 32DD breasts, as does the lady that does the games show circuit, getting geeks all sweaty (although, a quick trawl of Angelina Jolie sites shows her varying from 32DD to 38DD. Obsessive reporter John Leyden has offered to visit Angelina and find out once and for all).

- Congratulations to the guys at the Register for seeing right through Core Designs PR nonsense, but bravely writing a story on it anyway. (2000) Also, nice work getting "the only woman in the Reg office" involved later in the piece.

 

3. Who needs a fundamentally sound gameplay mechanic when you got boobs, lads?

There’s a reason that Tomb Raider sales dropped around the point Lara got a breast reduction and it has nothing to do with gamer gender dysphoria, but rather the wane of the communal hard-on.

Thanks, Kotaku writer from 2006! Incidentally, never use the phrase "communal hard-on" ever again, please.

 

4. Did I say "we"? I meant "I".

Throughout the years, young, innocent boys who started their gaming careers on the Atari and NES, grew into old, perverted gamers of the next generation. As we gamers continue to age, our interactive material moves right along with us, and that also means that as women begin to appeal to us, we begin making games that reflect our "perfect woman." These women all tend to have one thing in common: enormous breasts.

Who volunteers to tell this writer from the Examiner in 2010 that although he thinks he's writing on behalf of all gamers, he's really only writing about himself. 

 

5. No no no, these breasts are TOO BIG. I want a refund!

Honestly now...! No, don't get me wrong, I like a huge pair of boobies as much as the next fellow but everything has to stop with Lara Croft's size of breasts. Anything bigger than that is just... plain inefficient if you ask me. Capcom is struggling to achieve more fame the easy way. I repeat. The breasts look great, but was it really necessary? Ivy was already a D if not more.

Basically, video games should present fantasy in the most colorful and luscious way possible. It's like making dreams come true.

A man from Softpedia in 2007 had trouble typing this because his palms were so sweaty with lust. But, like a god-damn hero, he wrote it anyway.

***

By contrast, this time round, you can read IGN's Keza MacDonald interview writer Rhianna Pratchett; Maddy Myers on Lara and the player's "gaze"; and Cara Ellison on her continuing relationship with the character. Not to mention that Kotaku's editor recently told commenters who abused journalist Patricia Hernandez for writing about gender that they're weren't welcome on the site. 

Lara Croft in the 1990s.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

PETER MACDIARMID/REX
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Ken Clarke: Theresa May has “no idea” what to do about Brexit

According to the former Chancellor, “nobody in the government has the first idea of what they’re going to do next”.

Has Ken Clarke lost the greatest political battle of his career? He doesn’t think so. With his shoes off, he pads around his Westminster office in a striped shirt, bottle-green cords and spotty socks. Parliament’s most persistent Europhile seems relaxed. He laughs at the pervasive phrase that has issued from Downing Street since Theresa May became Prime Minister: “Brexit means Brexit.”

“A very simple phrase, but it didn’t mean anything,” he says. His blue eyes, still boyish at 76, twinkle. “It’s a brilliant reply! I thought it was rather witty. It took a day or two before people realised it didn’t actually answer the question.”

A former chancellor of the Exchequer, Clarke has served in three Conservative cabinets. His support for the European Union is well known. He has represented the seat of Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire for 46 years, and his commitment to the European project has never wavered over the decades. It has survived every Tory civil war and even his three failed attempts to be elected Tory leader, standing on a pro-Europe platform, in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

“My political career looks as though it will coincide with Britain’s membership of the EU,” Clarke says, lowering himself into an armchair that overlooks the Thames. There are model cars perched along the windowsill – a hint of his love of motor racing.

Clarke won’t be based here, in this poky rooftop room in Portcullis House, Westminster, much longer. He has decided to step down at the next election, when he will be nearly 80. “I began by campaigning [in the 1960s] in support of Harold Macmillan’s application to enter [the EU], and I shall retire at the next election, when Britain will be on the point of leaving,” he says grimly.

Clarke supports Theresa May, having worked with her in cabinet for four years. But his allegiance was somewhat undermined when he was recorded describing her as a “bloody difficult woman” during this year’s leadership contest. He is openly critical of her regime, dismissing it as a “government with no policies”.

For a senior politician with a big reputation, Clarke is light-hearted in person – his face is usually scrunched up in merriment beneath his floppy hair. A number of times during our discussion, he says that he is trying to avoid getting “into trouble”. A painting of a stern Churchill and multiple illustrations of Gladstone look down at him from his walls as he proceeds to do just that.

“Nobody in the government has the first idea of what they’re going to do next on the Brexit front,” he says. He has a warning for his former cabinet colleagues: “Serious uncertainty in your trading and political relationships with the rest of the world is dangerous if you allow it to persist.”

Clarke has seen some of the Tories’ bitterest feuds of the past at first hand, and he is concerned about party unity again. “Whatever is negotiated will be denounced by the ultra-Eurosceptics as a betrayal,” he says. “Theresa May has had the misfortune of taking over at the most impossible time. She faces an appalling problem of trying to get these ‘Three Brexiteers’ [Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox] to agree with each other, and putting together a coherent policy which a united cabinet can present to a waiting Parliament and public. Because nobody has the foggiest notion of what they want us to do.”

Clarke reserves his fiercest anger for these high-profile Brexiteers, lamenting: “People like Johnson and [Michael] Gove gave respectability to [Nigel] Farage’s arguments that immigration was somehow a great peril caused by the EU.”

During the referendum campaign, Clarke made headlines by describing Boris Johnson as “a nicer version of Donald Trump”, but today he seems more concerned about David Cameron. He has harsh words for his friend the former prime minister, calling the pledge to hold the referendum “a catastrophic decision”. “He will go down in history as the man who made the mistake of taking us out of the European Union, by mistake,” he says.

Clarke left the government in Cameron’s 2014 cabinet reshuffle – which came to be known as a “purge” of liberal Conservatives – and swapped his role as a minister without portfolio for life on the back benches. From there, he says, he will vote against the result of the referendum, which he dismisses as a “bizarre protest vote”.

“The idea that I’m suddenly going to change my lifelong opinions about the national interest and regard myself as instructed to vote in parliament on the basis of an opinion poll is laughable,” he growls. “My constituents voted Remain. I trust nobody will seriously suggest that I should vote in favour of leaving the European Union. I think it’s going to do serious damage.”

But No 10 has hinted that MPs won’t be given a say. “I do think parliament sooner or later is going to have to debate this,” Clarke insists. “In the normal way, holding the government to account for any policy the government produces . . . The idea that parliament’s going to have no say in this, and it’s all to be left to ministers, I would regard as appalling.”

Clarke has been characterised as a Tory “wet” since his days as one of the more liberal members of Margaret Thatcher’s government. It is thought that the former prime minister had a soft spot for his robust manner but viewed his left-wing leanings and pro-European passion with suspicion. He is one of parliament’s most enduring One-Nation Conservatives. Yet, with the Brexit vote, it feels as though his centrist strand of Tory politics is disappearing.

“I don’t think that’s extinct,” Clarke says. “The Conservative Party is certainly not doomed to go to the right.”

He does, however, see the rise of populism in the West as a warning. “I don’t want us to go lurching to the right,” he says. “There is a tendency for traditional parties to polarise, and for the right-wing one to go ever more to the right, and the left-wing one to go ever more to the left . . . It would be a catastrophe if that were to happen.”

Clarke’s dream of keeping the UK in Europe may be over, but he won’t be quiet while he feels that his party’s future is under threat. “Don’t get me into too much trouble,” he pleads, widening his eyes in a show of innocence, as he returns to his desk to finish his work. 

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 29 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, May’s new Tories