Being Lara Croft, or, We Are All Sci Fi

Should you happen to find yourself captivated watching slender Lara bound lithely through Tomb Raider’s dark, moist-looking caverns, you will do so without quite forgetting that Lara is, in a sense, you. Like the stranded Marine in Doom, the progenitor of first-person shooters, Lara awaits your input before she makes her decisions. Lara and Doom’s Marine both look where you look, and their bodies intrude on the screen to stand in for yours. A primary difference is that the sole bodily presence of Doom’s Marine is a hirsute arm, gripping a phallic, super-lethal weapon that bobs stiffly in time with his stealthy walk. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t rather be Lara. She is far more nuanced. Self-possessed in her hip-swaying walk but spry and potent when she leaps and scrambles, she has the build of a rock-climber and the carriage of an elegant socialite. —Mike WardBeing Lara Croft, or, We Are All Sci Fi (Pop Matters)

As Mike Vitia notes in a recent comment, this pre-Jolie article is dated now, but it’s well worth reading. Thanks for the suggestion.

I do find it limiting when I consider the set of assumptions that cinema experts bring to videogames. For example, Ward here waits until near the end to dicsuss the controls (keyboard in this case, when most dedicated players are probably using a hand-held controller).