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Tomb Raider 2013 sparks debate with attempted rape scene

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A scene depicting an attempted rape in the new video game, Tomb Raider, has sparked a firestorm of controversy.

The title is a reboot of the video game series bearing the same name, and was released March 5 for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

In one part of the game, a man corners the protagonist of the story, Lara Croft, and leans in and starts groping her.

Lara Croft
Screenshot from the YouTube video of the controversial scene in Tomb Raider 2013 that shows an attempted rape of action-hero Lara Croft. 

The scenario was showcased last year as teaser for the game’s release, and has since been a lightning rod for debate on sexism in video games.

Studio denies game shows sexual assault

When the scene was released, the game’s executive producer, Ron Rosenberg of Crystal Dynamics, said it was an attempted rape in an interview with gaming blog Kotaku, but the studio later denied the claim.

“[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,” said Crystal Dynamics studio manager Darrell Gallagher in media release.“Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time . . . sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game.”

Whether or not the scene is of an attempted rape, Lara Croft still gets beaten, bruised and kidnapped throughout the course of the game.

This has left gamers wondering if these occurrences are plot devices or evidence of thinly-veiled sexism.

Students weigh in

Arts student Matthew Hetherington said he would still play the game in spite of its questionable content.

“It’s misogynist, but that doesn’t mean it’s untrue,” he said.

Not everyone is able to look past the violence however.

“It’s not necessary and it propagates rape culture and normalizes and makes it more of an acceptable thing,” said accounting student Rachel Empson.

Instructors have their say

Langara instructors have clashing views on whether the scene is appropriate or not.

Nancy Pollak, a Langara women’s studies instructor, questioned why male characters aren’t treated the same in video games.

“Are male characters ever threatened with sexual violence by other men? My guess would be no,” said Pollak. “Would guys want to play a game in which their avatars were at risk of rape?”

On the other hand, psychology instructor Shirley Louth believes the controversy surrounding the scene is not necessary — it’s not any more graphic than many R-rated movies.

Furthermore, violence in video games hasn’t been proven to cause psychological trauma she said.

She said: “There’s no research to suggest that watching violent TV or watching or participating in violent video games would cause a mental disorder, however, for somebody who already has suffered some form of sexual violence, it could certainly trigger some emotional distress.”

Reported by Warren Jané

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