In which the author suggests that the new Lara Croft might be the best example of androgyny in gaming.
I don't have a problem if you want to play Grand Theft Auto from a first person perspective. Knock yourself out. But I won't be doing so anytime soon.
I have found myself struck with admiration recently by games that I have played that have put me in less than empowering positions, games that celebrate difficulty and hardship, struggling and deprivation, rather than empowerment and excess.
Amid a hail of gunfire, the player-character crumples to the ground, defeated, that is, before a loading screen pops to revive her. At least, that's how most action games represent death. In Tomb Raider, I've seen Lara Croft stabbed through the neck, had her head split open on a coral reef, seen her torn apart by wolves.
Home is where we see characters in a state of normalcy. We get to know what the protagonist does between adventures, and for a medium that depends so much on empathizing with the lead character, seeing who they are at home, away from it all, is a significant experience that more developers should consider investigating.
As much as I kind of hate its retrograde commitment to the classic boss fight, still I have to admire the “truthfulness” of Devil May Cry in allowing the numbers behind the image and the actual image itself to reflect one another. That giant-unborn-baby-guy boss is what he appears to be -- frickin' hard.
Watching becomes a rather central and active occupation in most games and very often requires more time than “doing something”.
If the Lara facing us is a living contradiction, at once a sex symbol and a rejection of the objectifying gaze, the videogame's Lara Croft -- mute, unreal, and looking the other way -- is a virtual contradiction, at once a sort of riot grrrl and a sort of fetish.