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When she first spelunked into the video game scene in 1996, Tomb Raider heroine Lara Croft quickly entered the ranks of pop-culture stardom as teen-boy fantasy. She was a classy, effortlessly cool 20-something slinging pistols like nobody’s business and trotting through the Arctic in a tank top and hot pants. What more could you want?
Well, as a young gamer swept up in the Tomb Raider craze, writer Rhianna Pratchett found herself at odds with the game series’ conflicted message: She adored the inherently feminist power of Croft’s ruthless intuition, physical prowess, and brainy puzzle-solving skills being highlighted in an industry dominated by men, but she took issue with the cyber-bimbo image marketed to fans. So she took matters into her own hands when Crystal Dynamics picked up the reins from Core Design for a massive franchise reboot, and rewrote the Croft legacy on her own.
“Classic Lara had been a playgirl with the money, gadgets, and guns to deal with any situation, jetting around the world and having these big adventures, and being very James Bond-y,” says Pratchett, who scripted the series overhaul, simply titled Tomb Raider, in 2013. “That’s not quite as relatable in this day and age of economic strife as maybe she once was. It was great escapism, but we’ve seen a lot of characters like this, living in fantasies. With this Lara, I wanted to bring her down to earth a little bit more, and think about her as an average London student just out of university who paid her way through and worked bar jobs — someone more in line with young women in London today. … A bit more relatable [but also