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Some spoilers for early in Rise of the Tomb Raider

Butch:

Well this is new….played TWICE!

So first I got to where you probably stopped the second time you played: I did all the Syria bits, went through the tomb there, met Lazaravic, he looks better with hair, got a cutscene with Jonah and the dude stealing the book, set up camp. Stopped.

Later on last night, picked up there, didn’t do much except toodle around that place with all the climby trees and documents climbing trees and finding documents. Then, when it took me about 27 tries to do that TWO PART QTE to not get eaten by the bear, I decided I was tired, so I made the healing salve and stopped.

Now I have to “find a way to get past the bear.” Fuck that bear.

So I have some theme stuff…let’s start there.

So, by my count, I broke my streak of pacifism, but barely. my counter says I’m 9% done. Which is a good chunk of game, really. That said, I’ve killed two dudes. Two. Compare that to the fact there have been THREE sequences that involve running like mighty hell, those being the avalanche, the collapsing tomb, and the bear. When else, in one of these games, have we had more running bits than dead dudes? I’ve ONLY died from things I’ve been fleeing and traps (yeah…that spike trap was gory, wasn’t it?).

Let me say that again: the things that are killing me are things I’m fleeing and things that trap me.

Now…I could, because the news is full of gender stuff, say “Maybe this is a gender thing.” Lara is female, and, here we are as a female, running and trying not to get grabbed (it IS timely, sadly) instead of standing and shooting and blowing shit up. But, really, I don’t think it is that. I think they really are doing this as metaphor.

After all, the first couple times I died, the first things we meet that can kill us, is a mountain. An obstacle. Lara’s very literal “mountain to climb.”

And look at where I am now. I just ran like holy hell. But now I’m patching my wounds and turning around to, reluctantly, face down the thing that almost killed me (well, that DID 26 times, but whatever), to think about how to beat it.

So I do think they’re using perils and threats and video game tropes as metaphor, and that’s cool. And I’m curious to see if they extend that through the inevitable onslaught of good ol’ dudes with guns. Cuz there’s gonna be waves of dudes with guns. Sooner, rather than later, I think.

Feminina:

Ah, the bear. That bear got me a few times too, until I actually…uh…read the informative text telling me how to use the special weapon it told me to make. Ahem. After that, it was a lot easier.

And, yeah, those were the two dudes I killed up to that point. There was that other one who I was ready to kill, but then he was crushed by falling rock–almost as if the game is encouraging me to remember that I don’t have to kill everyone, since some difficulties will be removed from my path in other ways.

And then you get to another place a bit further on and that’s all right out the window. Waves of dudes with guns, indeed.

“You don’t always have to kill everyone…but haha, USUALLY you have to kill everyone.”

I also thought it was interesting that pretty much right off the bat she ditches Jonah (which was not entirely her plan, there was the avalanche that separated them, but she’s all “please don’t try to find me”) and goes all lone wolf on us.

“I work alone, creeping through this wilderness fighting bears and murdering dudes…”

The first game was, obviously, mostly her working alone because that’s just the mechanics of it, but there was always the background awareness of the group that she was trying to meet up with, Sam to be saved, her mentor figure to learn final pre-death lessons from, etc. Most of the adventuring was done alone, but she still INTENDED to be part of a group, and the group was the context of the story.

Now, she’s had enough of that. No group: she doesn’t want to save anyone or travel with anyone or take advice from anyone. “I am Lara Croft, and the only company I need is the memory of the father whose obsessions I share.”

And I agree, to this point at least the game doesn’t feel particularly gender-specific. She could be Nathan Drake and the story, threats, etc. could play out about the same.

Butch:

Oh I haven’t gotten to where it gives me helpful advice on the bear. This was the run like hell, whack it, then do ONE dodge and ONE timed hit before falling off a cliff. I didn’t even GET to fall off the cliff. That’s how I was playing.

I am very much expecting gun dude waves. I am, frankly, a tad surprised I have not had gun dude waves already.

I’ll double down on the “lone wolf” analogy. Last night, as I was figuring out how much climbing trees can lead to ancient, priceless artifacts that have been laying out in the open for 300 years waiting for someone to figure out that they should really just climb trees, it struck me that Lara’s body language in the trees is very animal. Nathan Drake, even Lara in the first one, moved like, well, a person. Here, it’s past “sneaky.” She’s predatory. There’s something feral about her body language. It’s slightly off putting, in a good way.

So it’s interesting to use “wolf” here.

She’s got no group, and she doesn’t WANT one. Indeed, she feels like a threat to people around her. It isn’t just “I’m better at this without dudes getting in my way,” it’s “If they come with me, I’ll get them killed.” Sure, Nathan used that excuse with Elena, but it was just that: an excuse. He didn’t WANT her there. He wanted to go out and be the dashing treasure hunter. Lara BELIEVES she is toxic. This is no excuse. She’s genuinely scared for the people around her.

Feminina:

Oh, well, I can’t encourage you there. I fell off the cliff on the first try. [Patting myself on the back]

I run and fall extremely well! And that’s…good. In this context, that’s good.

Hmm…it’s true, she does seem honestly concerned for the safety of those around her. (And legitimately so.)

“Bad things happen to people close to me!” Sometimes. And I agree that this didn’t feel as true of Drake. Hmm.

OK, let’s throw a potential gender difference in here: Do we more readily accept that she really feels this concern, while Drake was making excuses, in part because she’s a woman and he’s a man?

We could make a little argument for this, based on the trope/common knowledge that women are

a) more likely to be genuinely concerned about other people (because they’re all caring and nurturing, while men are naturally sociopaths with no true interest in anyone but themselves and POSSIBLY some woman over whom they have asserted ownership)

and/or

b) less likely to have competent friends/followers who can take care of themselves (because a manly-man sidekick like Sully would not be taking orders from some woman: the only people who would take orders from a woman are wimps who wouldn’t stand a chance against a bear or a wave of dudes with guns)

Just tossing it out there.

Butch:

How proud you must be of your running and falling.

And…is that really true about her getting people in trouble? I mean, she SAVED Sam. The annoying dude getting killed was his own fault. Jonah lived. Didn’t the black lady? She got, like, everyone out. She seems, in this game, to have a rather irrational need to protect.

To your possible gender list I’ll add c) Even though she saved so many people in TR One, she doesn’t think she can do it again. When a man saves his friends, it’s cuz he was awesome and strong and skilled. Lara seems to think she saved whoever because she was lucky. A “Hey, I did it once, but I can’t be sure that was ME, and even if it was, how lucky can one woman be?”

Though, as to your B, it’s interesting that the dude from 1 I’ve met so far is Jonah. It isn’t poor Sam, clinging to Lara like a puppy. It’s the big, gruff, bearded dude. And it doesn’t seem that he is “protecting” her so much. He’s taking her orders, following her lead.

Feminina:

I am very, very proud of my running and falling skills. I have been practicing a long time, and my hard work has paid off at last. That’s a good feeling.

Ooh, good call on c), with the ‘imposter syndrome’ idea that even though Lara did quite successfully save almost everyone in the first game (except the dude whose own fault it totally was that he died), she might not feel that it was really her skills that did it: it was just luck, and she can’t count on luck to work again.

And we could also possibly add a complementary
d) if a bunch of people die following a dude (Nathan Drake, for example), that could easily be framed as mostly bad luck, while if a bunch of people die following a woman (say, Lara Croft), it would be perceived as largely her fault for being a bad leader, because she should have CARED more about them and not put them in danger and all that. Her responsibility is taking care of everyone: his responsibility is getting the treasure or whatever.

So we might infer that she doesn’t want to be responsible for getting anyone hurt or killed, and that it’s possibly because she genuinely cares more about other people than a male adventurer, but possibly also because she thinks that she’d be blamed for it more harshly than a male adventurer would.

And you know the glass ceiling in tomb raiding circles is a foot thick, so she can’t afford anything that holds her back. Way easier to just go the lone wolf route, man.

Butch:

Yes! Imposter syndrome. I knew it had a word. It’s like you know some medicine or something.

And, well…there certainly is a reputation element to all this. Nathan never cared about the credit (really. Sorta, but not really.) We’ve already seen a tabloid of Lara with the headline “Another Crazy Croft,” so she cares about what people think. And that’s on HER. This isn’t a “They all think Dad’s nuts, and, even though they don’t care about me, I’ll prove them wrong” thing. No. The papers think SHE’S nuts, and she’s stung by that.

What’s unclear to me (yet) is if dear ol’ dad was just an intellectual or if he led people to their doom. We know he went on expeditions. Did he take guns and grenades? Did he leave a trail of dead bad guys and friends, only to come home with kooky theories? Or was he just a mad, academic bookworm? Is she trying to make up for the fact that dad wasn’t just someone people thought had batty theories, but for the fact that dad’s “batty theories” got people killed?

If you know, don’t spoil.

Feminina:

Yeah, the way she’s got those tabloid stories papering the walls in her gloomy work space there suggests she takes the hits to her personal reputation, as well as her family name, quite seriously. She’s monitoring the stories and paying attention to the press coverage, and it gets to her.

Unlike with Drake, who, as you say, didn’t REALLY seem to care what anyone in the mainstream archaeology community thought about him. He was in it for the adventure, somewhat for the loot (though he never got as rich as you’d expect for someone who finds rooms full of gold), and to follow in the footsteps of Sir Francis Drake/his own mother (we never really made much of the fact that it turns out his mother was the person he was really emulating, but that could certainly be argued). At any rate, he presumably wouldn’t have given a damn about negative press coverage: even with his attachment to the famous Drake name, he wasn’t really about defending that name.

Whereas Lara is being presented as someone who really cares a lot about maintaining the honor of an old family name, so people casting aspersions on that name is a serious concern for her.

I’m not yet clear on dear old dad’s character, either. I think we’ll learn quite a bit more as we go, though–it’s shaping up to be a definite theme.

Butch:

It does suggest she’s very concerned with the Croft name. She was annoyed with Ana.

I don’t trust Ana.

And no, press coverage was never a concern for Nathan Drake: There was only that one moment in UC4 when Sam semi-jokingly took credit for finding Libertalia, and Nathan got slightly annoyed, and even that (as we so brilliantly discussed) might have been more sibling rivalry/the need for family approval than anything else. Other than that, he could care less.

Until the very end, of course.

I did spend a good chunk of yesterday listening to journal entries. There are a lot of journal entries. Lots there so far from dad, and about Anna. Have you gone through all that? You start with 6 or 7 from dad….

I don’t trust Ana.

Feminina:

Ooh, I need to catch up on journal entries, thanks for that. I only got a couple before getting distracted by finding 300-year-old documents in trees and learning to translate Mongolian and so forth. (I kind of like that mechanic where you get better at languages as you translate documents, but it does suggest that it’s kind of hilariously easy to learn a language.)

Next time I’m chilling at a campsite or have some downtime between axe fights, I’m on it.

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