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.

Show Hide image

The Bloody Mary is dead: all hail the Bloody Caesar

This Canadian version of an old standard is a good substitute for dinner.

It is not anti-Catholic bias that makes me dislike the Bloody Mary, that lumpish combination of tomato juice and vodka named after a 16th-century English queen who, despite the immense reach of her royal powers, found burning Protestants alive the most effective display of majesty.

My prejudice is against its contents: the pulverised tomatoes that look like run-off from a Tudor torture chamber. A whole tomato is a source of joy and, occasionally, wonder (I remember learning that the Farsi for tomato is gojeh farangi, which translates literally as “foreign plum”) – and I am as fond of pizza as anyone. Most accessories to the Bloody Mary are fine with me: Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, celery, black pepper, even sherry or oysters. But generally I share the curmudgeon Bernard DeVoto’s mistrust of fruit juice in my spirits: “all pestilential, all gangrenous, all vile” was the great man’s verdict. His main objection was sweetness but I will include the admittedly savoury tomato in my ban. At the cocktail hour, I have been known to crave all kinds of odd concoctions but none has included pulp.

To many, the whole point of a Bloody Mary is that you don’t wait until the cocktail hour. This seems to entail a certain shying away from unpleasant realities. I know perfectly well the reaction I would get if I were to ask for a grilled tomato and a chilled Martini at brunch: my friends would start likening me to F Scott Fitzgerald and they wouldn’t be referring to my writing talent. Despite its remarkably similar contents, a Bloody Mary is a perfectly acceptable midday, middle-class beverage. If the original Mary were here to witness such hypocrisy, she would surely tut and reach for her firelighters.

Yet, like the good Catholic I certainly am not, I must confess, for I have seen the error of my ways. In July, on Vancouver Island, I tried a Bloody Caesar – Canada’s spirited response to England’s favourite breakfast tipple (“I’ll see your Tudor queen, you bunch of retrograde royalists, and raise you a Roman emperor”). The main difference is a weird yet oddly palatable concoction called Clamato: tomato juice thinned and refined by clam juice. Replace your standard slop with this stuff, which has all the tang of tomato yet flows like a veritable Niagara, and you will have a drink far stranger yet more delicious than the traditional version.

Apparently, the Caesar was invented by an Italian restaurateur in Calgary, Alberta, who wanted a liquid version of his favourite dish from the old country: spaghetti alle vongole in rosso (clam and tomato spaghetti). He got it – and, more importantly, the rest of us got something we can drink not at breakfast but instead of dinner. Find a really interesting garnish – pickled bull kelp or spicy pickled celery, say – and you can even claim to have eaten your greens.

I’m sure that dedicated fans of the Bloody Mary will consider this entire column heretical, which seems appropriate: that’s the side I was born on, being Jewish, and I like to hope I wouldn’t switch even under extreme forms of persuasion. But this cocktail is in any case a broad church: few cocktails come in so many different incarnations.

The original was invented, according to him, by Fernand Petiot, who was a French barman in New York during Prohibition (and so must have known a thing or two about hypocrisy). It includes lemon juice and a “layer” of Worcestershire sauce and the tomato juice is strained; it may also actually have been named after a barmaid.

All of which proves only that dogma has no place at the bar. Variety is the spice of life, which makes it ironic that the world’s spiciest cocktail bestows a frivolous immortality on a woman who believed all choice to be the work of the devil.

Next week John Burnside on nature

Nina Caplan is the 2014 Fortnum & Mason Drink Writer of the Year and 2014 Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year for her columns on drink in the New Statesman. She tweets as @NinaCaplan.

This article first appeared in the 08 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin vs Isis