Gun-toting Digital heroine Lara Croft is heading for a makeover, and will be showing even more skin in her next adventure.
Considering the waning popularity of the video game protagonist and economic downturn, rumours are abuzz that the next Tomb Raider game will be rated M rather than T (for teen) - meaning it will be either sexier or bloodier, which may see efforts to make her more female-friendly.
Eidos, the game’s makers, have sacked 30 employees at Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics, and its shares fell 25 per cent in one day after it revised down its profit forecast, due to lower than expected sales of Tomb Raider: Underworld. Gamers have expressed their concerns that creators could exploit Croft, famously played by Angelina Jolie in the film.
"I've been a fan of the series ever since the first title but isn't this just a sign of desperation? How about making an awesome game without having to pull stunts like this?" the Courier Mail quoted one fan as writing in a blog. It is estimated that around 40 per cent of players on the world's biggest online games, like World of Warcraft and The Sims Online, are women, and the industry is finally taking them seriously.
Penny Sweetser, a senior game designer with 2K Australia, said that the options for women gamers should increase as more women worked in the industry. Hannah Crosby, an artist with THQ Studios Australia, agreed that women were still getting a man's take on women's games.
"Because there's not many women working on games I guess we're getting a very male take on what they think women want to play," she said. Women view Lara Croft as an icon in the industry and in wider pop culture, and say that they will watch her future appearance with interest.
Crosby, a strong advocate for female characters in games, said that she'd learned to live with Croft's appearance because of her other heroic qualities. "It's the sort of thing women have overlooked to this point because otherwise you wouldn't play anything," she said. "Getting women into games at all at the moment is the first step before anything like what they are wearing or look like," she added.