The Needles

The Needles
Games For Boys, Games For Girls

Andy Chalk | 13 Jan 2009 13:00
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Which brings up another point: Lindstrom's optimism notwithstanding, it's not as though Lara Croft's freakishly-proportioned body offers the same appeal to girls as it does to boys. Nor has Eidos done much to promote it as anything more than a hi-res jigglefest: current Lara model Alison Carroll may be a very nice woman, but we're not paying attention to her because she's going to punch up our knowledge of Khmer architecture. Giving the series a makeover isn't a bad idea in and of itself, but reaching out specifically to female gamers - however the company might go about it - smacks of desperation. Also worth bearing in mind is the distinct likelihood that any such redesign of the game will change just enough to alienate the existing Tomb Raider fan base without doing nearly enough to gain new market share from anywhere else.

And what are they going to change, anyway? Trim the boobs, put some clothes on and... what? Work in a sensitive romantic angle? Add some intellectually-stimulating dialog? Ponies, maybe? This is a woman who robs graves, plunders ancient cultural sites around the world and kills anyone who gets in her way; what about that sounds like it's only a quick tune-up away from becoming a major hit with the chicks? If Eidos is serious about turning around Tomb Raider - which I think is a dicey proposition to begin with - then it should be focusing not on appealing to females, but on simply appealing to gamers.

Two things need to be done. First, Eidos needs to adjust expectations. Tomb Raider's days as a marquee franchise are effectively over. Accept it, adjust for it and move on. Second, the value of the property needs to be maximized not by some meandering pursuit of the elusive and poorly-defined "girl gamer" demographic, but by being creative and innovative and taking some risks with future releases, and by abandoning the idea that female gamers, at least those past the Hannah Montana stage, are definably distinct from their male counterparts.

Break it down into manageable chunks with twice-yearly releases of Tomb Raider: Episodes, for instance, that provide a half-dozen hours of story-driven adventure for 15 or 20 bucks via Xbox Live and Steam. Or put Brent's Batman model to work and let the series sit idle for a few years, then "reboot" it completely with RPG and puzzle-solving elements and a central character who dresses like a normal human being.

Or put it out to pasture. Tomb Raider has had a good run over the years, but as Screen Digest analyst Piers Harding-Rolls noted, "Lara is still looked on with affection in Britain and Europe, but sequels don't necessarily go on forever." If Eidos can't come up with a good plan for the future of Tomb Raider, they'd be far better off to just let it go.

Andy Chalk strongly denies that he ever downloaded, installed or Google image searched the Nude Raider patch.

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