Tomb Raider screenshot
Tomb Raider screenshot

Crystal Dynamics, developer of the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, has issued a public statement to clarify recent statements made to Kotaku by executive producer Ron Rosenberg about an "attempted rape" scene in the game. Rosenberg said that by subjecting Lara to traumatic events players would want to "protect her".

Studio head Darrell Gallagher said that "sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme we cover in this game."

"We had a great E3 with Tomb Raider and received a fantastic public and press response," said Gallagher, "with the game picking up numerous game of the show awards based on the new direction taken with the franchise. Unfortunately we were not clear in a recent E3 press interview and things have been misunderstood. Before this gets out of hand, let me explain."

"In making this Tomb Raider origins story our aim was to take Lara Croft on an exploration of what makes her the character she embodies in late Tomb Raider games," continued Gallagher.

"One of the character defining moments for Lara in the game, which has incorrectly been referred to as an 'attempted rape' scene is the content we showed at this year's E3 and which over a million people have now seen in our recent trailer entitled 'Crossroads'. This is where Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time. In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly. Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."

"We take great care and pride in our work and are focused on creating a release that will deliver meaningful storytelling, drama, and exciting gameplay."

"We're sorry this has not been better explained, we'll certainly be more careful with what is said in future," concluded Gallagher.

In response to Gallagher's statement, Kotaku transcribed the section of Rosenberg's E3 interview where the original comment was made. "And then what happens is her best friend gets kidnapped, she gets taken prisoner by scavengers on the island. They try to rape her, and-" is what was allegedly said.

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User Comments

CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ FantasyMeister

Originally Posted by FM
We overreact too much.
Who are "we"? Are we the players? Because, for the most part, players aren't the ones going insane over it. Just look at the comments in this thread. This particular pool of posters may or may not be representative of the entire playerbase, but what it is saying "You know what? We're quite cool with it, as long as you don't be dicks about it."
Posted 09:27 on 16 June 2012
guyderman's Avatar


I have to agree with Munkee as he has a very valid point.
In the right context, and tackled well, I have no problem with an 'attempted' rape in a storyline - I don't however want to ever 'see' a full on rape scene in a video game and the day we are actually in control of the Rapist is the day I give up all hope on the world we live in!

There is all this fuss kicked up over it appearing in an 18 rated title and yet Corrie and Eatenders have a rape scene every year between them and this is shown at 8pm on terrestrial TV. But again peoples perception of Videgames is less than that of a soap opera!

I must admit from the last footage I saw of the new Tomb Raider it did look in one point like Lara was going to face an attempted rape, and it makes me wonder if they were testing the waters to see the reaction of the public before making their minds up whether to include it or not - I understand that they are after a more mature version of the game but what is sad is that as talented as this industry is they do often see 'mature' as 'more blood, sex and violence' in this way it often feels that videogames are still stuck in the days of exploitation movies with it's mentality.

When I played Heavy Rain there were two incidents with Madison that felt almost like you were fighting attempted rape - and they were very well done and really added to the tension of the scenes - but it was cleverly enough done to leave it for you to decide if that was part of the fear your character was facing - which was far more powerful than a full on gratuitous attempted rape scene ever would've been!
Posted 07:46 on 16 June 2012
rickystaines's Avatar


No way! Video games are entitled to tackle any subject, no matter how difficult, provided that the creator does so with carefully considered intent - for example, making us think about the world, or a situation, differently.

Of course, we're entitled to make our own judgements, too. Some will argue that Tomb Raider portrays women as vulnerable sex objects, forever in need of saving. Others may observe the same scene, and interpret the attacker's death as poetic justice for his overt misogyny.

It's subjective, just like all the best art :)
Posted 01:04 on 16 June 2012
FantasyMeister's Avatar


Gamers can handle anything as long as the context is correct. Unfortunately in both recent cases which caused controversy (Hitman Absolution's nuns, and Tomb Raider's perceived sexual violence) nobody wants to see either franchise drop down to the level of something like Nude Nuns with Big Guns which, incidentally, I can watch on my videogames console via Netflix.

Basically if you're going to make a controversial game, the general rule of thumb seems to be don't add controversy to existing franchises that gamers already hold on pedestals as they don't like to be jarred out of their comfort zones. It would be akin to adding Trials HD-like gameplay to Halo 4's warthog sections.

And as per usual with controversies in video games, a little perspective is needed: Drop Lara 15 feet so she gets skewered through the liver by an iron bar protruding from the ground? No problem. Bad guy puts hand on Lara's hip? Rape. We overreact too much.
Posted 14:50 on 15 June 2012
ReadySteadyGo's Avatar


Oh no Womb Raider!

I just think this whole thing is over the top myself and it depends in what context it's used in the story.

If it's gonna be for shocks then I'm against it but if it really is to enhance the story element of the game then I'm all for it.

I think we can only judge if it's right when we play the game.
Posted 11:49 on 15 June 2012
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ Woffls

THIS^ (And, what Clockpunk said.)

I don't read Kotaku these days, (I call this disease "Intelligence"), but for once I am going to defend them.

Originally Posted by Kotaku
"The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear," he said. "She literally goes from zero to hero... we're sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again."

In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She'll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her.

"She is literally turned into a cornered animal," Rosenberg said. "It's a huge step in her evolution: she's forced to either fight back or die."

Sure, it could look as if they are putting words in his mouth, but this was a small part of the article, and not the lead that it might have been. They did their best to try and keep it objective. Unusual for them, I know!

There is sense in what Rosenberg says. Think about Spirited Away for a minute. Chihiro is a little girl, but by the end of the movie Sen is empowered by what she has been through. Tomb Raider seems to be attempting a quite ham-fisted version of that. I'm not calling it right or wrong, I am merely commenting on what I see. But then, I am a big Tomb Raider fan, and have probably read more than most about it. I recall similar sentiments in an interview from 18 months ago.

I think it is time games stood up to be counted. We need to stop trying to make them treat us differently, or to stop acting like we are different. We aren't. We are as valid an art form as any other, and can therefore be as good AND bad as any other. When I can watch a TV series where a serial killer is the hero, but can't play games where someone successfully fends off an attempted rape, I am forced to ask why the double standards are there. I get that some find any reference to such an horrific crime disturbing, but I am actually annoyed that so many have jumped to the usual predictable outrage over what could have been a bold move.
Posted 13:20 on 14 June 2012
munkee's Avatar

munkee@ Bloodstorm

"Are you comparing rape to a kill or be killed situation? That's low man."


I'm comparing sexual violence to any other act's of needless violence. If you cannot accept one form at all, then why would you feel that it's okay to accept another?

The mass-industry is patronising, promotes mindless violence, its puerile and based on sexual/racial stereotyping. These things are all openly accepted.

We can play military shooters involving American/British troops invading middle eastern countries, but I have yet to play as an Afghan defending his home. We can wander the streets as armed thugs mass killing law enforcement officers and innocents. We can drive over victims. We can break bones and decapitate.

All these things, we are lead to believe, are acceptable. But, you mention hurting a child, or sexual assault, and the industry goes nuts about it.

Perhaps we don't want to see rape, or child abuse. Perhaps its something that we like to shy away from. But, it happens, right? Just like other forms of mindless violence do. Perhaps, we shouldn't keep churning out hyper-violent and realistic games at all. But, a lot of money can be made from them, yeah? Why glorify one, but not the other? I imagine that just as many people used to be offended by violence. But, that taboo has been broken and now we get kicks from killing.

The long-winded point that I'm trying to make. Is that I find it difficult to understand how a person can be so strongly against one act of aggressive, mindless and evil violence. Yet be so openly accepting of another, equally aggressive, mindless and evil violence.
Posted 13:02 on 14 June 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar


I do think the concept of rape and exploring the emotional consequences (fear, hate, revenge, guilt, to name but a few) could have a place in guiding the experience of a gaming title.

I do not, however, think Tomb Raider is that title.
Posted 12:28 on 14 June 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar


Yep, sexual violence should have no part in gaming at all.

EDIT- Are you comparing rape to a kill or be killed situation?

That's low man.
Posted 12:19 on 14 June 2012
munkee's Avatar

munkee@ Bloodstorm

But, its still cool to watch and interact with mindless violence by murdering hundreds, possibly thousands, of people a month?
Posted 12:05 on 14 June 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar


ABSOLUTELY NO to a game of all things covering attempted rape, or rape in ANY form. I'm playing a game for enjoyment not to see anything like that.
Posted 11:42 on 14 June 2012
Woffls's Avatar


Was Rosenberg definitely talking about Lara and not her friend? He does mention the evolution of the character in question, but the transcription doesn't explicitly state which character was(n't) about to be raped. [edit] It might have actually been in a trailer, which I've not seen.

I assume he was talking about Lara, but I don't see a problem with exploring this in a game. If they can frame her character well enough that it highlights just how damaging rape can be, then that's a message which is worth hearing. Of course, as ever, the success of the message is predicated on the execution of the experience, and we shouldn't be judging that until we play the game as a full experience.

Just ducking away from delicate subject matter isn't what communication mediums should be doing, but I understand that games aren't ready to give this subject a fair representation. I say this based on pretty much every other game ever, but I'm not ready to say that Tomb Raider can't achieve it, so attempting it is their prerogative.
Posted 11:27 on 14 June 2012
squidman's Avatar


Personally - and I am speaking in general terms, and not about this Tomb Raider incident because I haven't played the game - I don't think video games are quite ready to tackle such subjects. Not that they won't be able to eventually, but I don't think you can just go from 0 to 100 like this. You can't just jump straight into such extremities when most games can't even handle the basics of human characterisation.

Or: you can't make character when almost everything in games is charactuer.

Like pblive says, Heavy Rain is perhaps the nearest we've got - but, if you ask me, that just shows how very far there is to go.
Posted 10:54 on 14 June 2012


But then Kotaku are a site with a pretty warped agenda anyway, so nothing surprises me other than that actually spend any time covering the games at all.

Some journalists are still adamant that a rape scene WAS going to be in the game until the furore kicked off, but I really do doubt the team responsible for the story would be that naive to think they could make something like that work. I agree that games are not ready to tackle this sort of subject and, by their very nature, may never be. The nearest we get is something like Heavy Rain which, even if you don't like the game itself, many agree was an interesting way to introduce more adult themes in to a game environment.

It's tabloid style games sites taking an idea and running with it that perpetuate a certain image of gaming, even though Crystal Dynamics have replied to this, the damage is done. While you could argue that any publicity is good for the game, I very much doubt they'd want this over their heads.
Posted 10:54 on 14 June 2012
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ munkee

Sage words, munkee. We are, sadly, not yet ready to try and tackle anything that is mature or adult in anything other than gratuitous uses of the words. Some of us may be, but GOOD GRIEF our media make it difficult for us! Kotaku had a whole bunch of things to talk about, and they dived straight on the headline maker.
Posted 10:45 on 14 June 2012

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 05/03/2013
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 967 210
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