End of Term Report 2012
Gossipmonger and Hack-In-Chief Ostercy Janson De Couët
I was thinking about how to approach this article and I began to wonder about the "adult rating" that the new Tomb Raider game has been given - Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language. I wondered about what creative freedoms this M-rating has bought.
So. Classic Lara Croft was unashamed of her sexuality and in fact (up to 2006) she was probably a bit of a sexual predator. She saw Daniel Craig and if she wanted him, she had him - the saucy saucepot. The chances of her getting raped seemed slim, as the would-be rapist - after being verbally tortured in a fashion analogous to a bird being toyed with by a cat - would probably either be shot or die in some comically ironic way.
Fast backward to 2013 and (pulling on my mouth-sized Ron Rosenberg boots) what do we have with this new "mature-rated" Tomb Raider? New Lara appears comes close to being a sexual victim (and when I say "comes close to being a sexual victim" I mean she nearly has her breast touched by a horrid foreigner) and as a result is so traumatised she becomes a mass murderer. Or something. The new Lara gives the impression of being as sexually in experienced and naive as an American teen with a father fixation, despite having been to University and "worked in a pub". In London. And who is now in her 20's. Racy stuff!
However. I'm not sure all this rates a "M" rating, especially since CD have spent so much time saying "he's wasn't going to rape her, he's just a very naughty boy."
"Intense violence, blood and gore"
So next, there's the killin'. Classic Lara killed lots of animals and "thingies from myths". She killed a lot of generic "red shirts" in level like Area 51 or the "Louvre", and was either unfazed by it or even mildly sadistic in a black-humoured sort of way. However, it wasn't until Legend that she started to become slightly schizoid and began to do an impression of a crazed Barbie in a clock tower shooting people through a pink telescopic sight. This Barbie got a bit upset when she killed Ken Larson, but we fans just hoped it was a momentary slip up by the CD script editors born of their understandable ignorance of the new franchise they had "inherited".
And so now - our eyes filled with hope - we turn the clock to 2013, and what's the wonderful sophisticated adult killer like? Well, the new set up rather reminds me of films like Straw Dogs or Death Wish, whereby a "mild mannered innocent ordinary person" is allowed to become a raving psychopath due to circumstances. We're given a kind of a John and Lorena Bobbitt scenario where one violent act naturally follows on from another in an "eye for a tooth" manner. In other words we are slammed around the head with the sort of morally black and white (allegedly) Biblical-lite mechanism that (some) Americans so adore in their melodrama. By the end of the film (or in this case game) the directors "get away with" a blood bath, leaving our conscience clear because - after all - the baddies "gone done asked fer it". And if we get a little "dirty" identifying with all the killing, well that's either (1) secretly subversive or (2) usefully desensitizing during wartime. (Maybe I'm getting confused with the 70's.)
Exhibit A; classic Lara - mostly heartless killer who got a laugh out of stealing shiny things, who was unapologetic and who was not a hypocrite.
Exhibit B; new "Lara" - emo killer with a pathetic "it's not my fault, it's those nasty men" rationale and a remit to make archaeology edutainment movies for the Discovery Channel rather than nicking stuff (probably).
I know which I prefer, and which I find more wholesome. However I'm not sure that even the dubious patina of moral relativism alone is enough to necessitate the M rating, even though we may want to make sure that innocent kids aren't allowed anywhere near it.
Bullet points from the master plan.
How's the selling of this new and improved version of our heroine going? Someone once said that if you make the lie big enough people will believe it..
We've been blarneyed (a) about the new Lara being the same as the old Lara but different (spot the logical inconsistency in that), (b) about the new Tomb Raider being a Tomb Raider because it has tombs even though it isn't like an old Tomb Raider, and (c) about how the change of game genre from a platformer to a third person shooter isn't a change in game genre but just some sort of culturally relevant upgrade of the combat system. Begorrah, they must think we fans are all a bit slow in the head.
We been told that even though classic Lara was a 2D sexist personality-free elitist cut-out that nobody identified with, the new game creators have a great respect for the Lara Croft™ IP character. (Especially if she turns out not to be an aristocrat, a Tomb Raider or 100% English.)
We've been introduced to an American actress born in England who is either not very good at an English accent, or who is deliberately putting on a bit of an American accent because that's allegedly how the inhabitants of modern cosmopolitan London speak (CD's in depth research showing it's true value here).
Finally, we've been given a writer who is billed initially as a "good thing" because she's the daughter of another writer (writing skillz is genetic, you know). Then she is crowned the "first female writer on a Tomb Raider game" (until the existence of the original female writer is mentioned). Finally she morphs into the "First Female Lead Writer On A Tomb Raider Game". And all this to try and prove that CD are in touch with their feminine side and not a bunch of sexist pigs from Life On Mars like Core Design.
Plus - Brucie bonus - because the new writer is English we're told she'll be there to stop CD accidently making Laura say Americanisms like "darn it", "gee willikers" and "you've got a purdy mouth". All whilst Quislinging Lara into her new "English but not quite English" persona. Hurrah!.
"Money, it's a gas."
It's fascinating to see what a tremendous amount of money has been poured into selling the new Lara Croft. That wadge of cash probably could have bought free health care for most of California. The videos have come faster and faster, the "friendly but impartial" reviews more and more frequent and the artwork and screenshots more and more encyclopaedic, whilst the game play demonstrations stretch over more and more of the game ... and yet. Are CD waving or drowning?
More and more good hearted old time fans who bent over backwards to give the new game a chance are finding the position increasing uncomfortable and undignified. The more the new Lara reveals herself, the less sexy she (and her frankly rather boring looking third person shooter) become. Even some of the newbies (average age thirteen and three quarters and therefore too young to buy the game) are spurting their enthusiasm less and less all over Facebook, Twitter and the (one remaining functional) Tomb Raider discussion forum. The "exciting" January announcement of multiplayer - could there be anything more antithetical to the solitary explorer or less "Tomb Raider"? - will cause most existing fans to give, at the very best, a heartfelt "meh". CD has obviously gambled that they can ignore us (or else somehow convert us to a totally different genre and character) but have they bet the farm on a nag?
"But be honest Ostercy" (I hear you cry), "you want the game to fail, don't you?" My answer - "I don't give a stuff about the game one way or the other because I'm a Tomb Raider fan". However I hope for the sake of the CD employees that it sells oodles and oodles, and that the share holders get that bigger car/house/yacht/penis they've all been itching for.
But what I do want is that the arrogant, Anglophobic decision to fiddle about with Lara Croft backfires and that this whole ghastly craze for rebooting fantasy heroes in new, realistic, boring, earnest, politically correct ways is soon as dead as booth babes. Bring back the colour, the fantasy, the magic, the awe (and maybe even the booth babes).
So let's see what happens in March. Will I be buying a second hand Tomb Raider 2013 from the bargain bucket at Amazon two days after release for a fiver, or will I be rueing my words as it forms the basis of a glorious new Platinum Trilogy? Will the release of the classics on Steam and the popularity of the retro styled Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light consign the new "Tomb Raider" to the dustbin of history?
One thing I am 100% certain of - classic Lara Croft (1996-2003, may she rest in peace) will be remembered long, long after this opportunistic episode.
It's always nice when game companies acknowledge fans or do something nice for them. What is slightly less big hearted is when they do these things merely to sell a new product or a new concept. With respect to Tomb Raider 2013 (as we lovingly refer to the upcoming game,) I first noticed this effect last year with the sponsorship of new artwork by CD to "celebrate 15 years of Tomb Raider". That's a nice gesture, I thought. Paying tribute to the old classics before the release of the new effort. Then when I saw the new artwork it mostly featured some new character coincidentally named "Lara Croft". No love then, just commerce. The only consolation was that some of the artists, not quite up to speed with the boring new "Lara", had made their artworks a bit too boobilicious. No doubt they are languishing in a Gulag somewhere as we speak.
Then, just recently, I spotted a couple of things on Facebook. First was a post from CD about some lovely new Tomb Raider artwork from the fans. Weirdly only one of the pictures was of classic twin-pistolled Lara; the rest were of emo "Lara". Maybe CD are trying to imply that most of the latest Tomb Raider fan artwork "stars" this new character? I guess they don't visit DeviantArt, where the joyous news of the new and improved "Lara" has yet to light any revolutionary zeal.
The second FB post that I noticed from CD was of some "lovely cosplayers". The fact that they were all standing in front of a giant Tomb Raider poster at a games convention dressed as Katniss Everdene did make me wonder if they'd been bribed in some way not to dress as the real Lara Croft. Is this what we're getting now that "booth babes " have been deemed politically incorrect? It's like when they axed live action Lara models such as the unfortunate Alison Carroll - too passé and sexist no doubt - and gave almost exactly the same job to a "not afraid to take her top off if the plot requires it" American voice actress. But I digress.
In the good old days CD and Core Design used to bribe fans with goodies at one or two pet forums that they owned - COMING MONDAY ORIGINAL CONCEPT ART OF LARA'S FEET - and that's how they got lots of free advertising. Sadly the concept of forums is now dead and those still hanging on despite Twitter and Facebook cannot be relied on to tow the party line like they used to. So instead we have this weird tunnel-visioned representation of what the fans are up to, almost as if we are being asked to believe that "Look! All the fans are totally behind the fabulous new character!" "Filtering" fan artwork and cosplayer activity to show only what the company wants to be shown is a new tactic, and subtly different. Let's hope all these creative and devoted Tomb Raider fans gave their permission to be used as Mammon fodder.
by Tanya Croft
"Hi there! My name’s Tanya and I’m from Kiev. Also I am a big fan of Lara Croft and now I want to share with you how she helped me in my life.
About Lara Croft I knew at the age of 12 in 2002, it was Tomb Raider-3. It was my first meeting with Lara, but only when I've played in TR-6 in 2005 I became a big fan of her. Only then I understood that she's an ideal for me and I want to be like her. Since my childhood I've dreamed of being an actress and "transformation" into Lara gave me this opportunity. Later I knew, that this hobby called "cosplay" and I've found many girls, who also cosplaying Lara. Of course it was hard to start and I knew that was probably a stupid idea... But I decided don't stop I've never regretted that I started cosplaying! Seven years have passed... It’s considerable term, I think. I don't know why, but I can't cosplay another characters. I'm faithful to Lara. For being perfect cosplayer good outfits and location is not enough, at least for me. You need feel a soul of person, whom you cosplaying. I'm similar with Lara by character (I'm not home girl and like travelling), I prefer military style, active rest, stalking and so on. When I cosplay Lara I wanna show strong character first of all, mysteriousness and interest in adventures. That's why I always try to find similar locations. But we shouldn't forget that Lara is a sexy woman and without sexiness in your look it won't be Lara My boyfriend helps me a lot He makes costumes and equipment for me. First of all we buy necessary material for costume and decide when and how this costume will be ready. After this I'm looking for acceptable location in Kiev (or in other Ukrainian cities). And finally we choose the date of photoshoot. Sometimes one location is not enough for one photoshoot and we go to another place. My dream is to make all Lara’s costumes And cosplay in acceptable location! But cosplay for me is not only hobby and photos, it’s almost my life. I adore nature and exploring new awesome places, it's just like gulp of fresh air! Also I'll plan to learn some of Lara’s skills in acrobatics, it will bring more color in cosplay. And of course I want and will travel all around the world! So wish me luck ."
by Dan Boucher
(Spong of Tomb Raider Forums)
It all seems so simple when written like that. But to someone like me it isn't just the definition of two singular words or their combination, it isn't just raiding tombs. It means so much more.
So, what does 'Tomb Raider' mean to me? Over the course of its now sixteen-year life, Tomb Raider has become spell-like, two evocative words that conjure a myriad images of long-lost places, of buried secrets, of undiscovered mysteries waiting for me to unravel. Which sounds all very ironically eloquent when considering the first thing that attracted me when I played a demo of TR1 at a trade show before the game's release was the way Lara targeted her enemies. I liked the way her guns acted as though they were being magnetically pulled towards her target, as though Lara was clinging desperately on to them to stop them flying from her hands, her arms locked under an apparent strain. It was an odd thing to notice, an even odder thing to remember. Demos at trade shows are like that though. To Tomb Raider's detriment, all the ambient noise, a Core Design rep not leaving me alone, and my own unfamiliarity meant the real treasures within the game remained hidden to me until I played the Saturn version on its release.
The weeks after Tomb Raider's release are, if I'm honest, a blissful blur. In fact each subsequent release, all the way up to Angel of Darkness, was pretty much the same. That's testament to how life-changing the original formula was and how that formula remained solid for five years. Core struck gold with the original Tomb Raider and each subsequent game was like taking the original down from the shelf and giving it a good polish. People often say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", it's a mantra I personally believe in and one Core stuck to throughout the first five Tomb Raiders. And I will be forever grateful that they did.
Full 3D games were still all very new back when the original Tomb Raider hit the shelves, so in that respect the game didn't really have to go that extra mile to achieve its wow factor. But Tomb Raider did go the extra mile, in more ways than I could ever have imagined when playing the demo at that noisy trade show. I believe Tomb Raider itself was the first game of its kind to feature seamless transitions between above ground and underwater gameplay - that in itself is a technical accolade to be proud of. But the game in its totality presents such an experience that I firmly believe even the most forward-thinking minds at Core never fully envisaged what they were creating. Truly epoch-making events like that rarely happen on command though.
So in my eyes, above all else, Core stumbled on a recipe for videogame alchemy, that much I think is already self-evident. But when going into detail, there's one glaring omission from the list of ingredients, an ingredient I've never personally considered vital, possibly the biggestomission a Tomb Raider fan could make. And that's Lara Croft.
The experience Tomb Raider gives me when I play it is one entirely hinged on immersion, it's a world for me to explore. My on-screen avatar is and always has been merely a way of facilitating that immersion. I've always viewed Lara herself as an after-thought to the game's main attraction. I don't mean that to disrespect the millions of Lara fans out there, it's purely a matter-of-fact opinion. Lara is just a tool I had to use, she is no more important to me in Tomb Raider than the pad I use to play with. People who know me will have heard me say this before; when I play Tomb Raider, I'm the one doing the exploring, not Lara. It's me who's creeping through those caves, I run formy life from the rolling boulders, it's my breath that gets taken away when a sword in the Damocles room almost skewers my head. If I try and view all that in third-person, see it all as something happening to Lara and I'm just along for the ride, then the immersion is instantly shattered and a large part of what Tomb Raider is to me is severely wounded. Luckily for me then that Core never really gave Lara that much precedence in the games. No, that particular overkill came later...
So, my Tomb Raider experience is largely rooted in my sense of immersion, the feeling that I'm there amongst it all. It naturally follows then that the game's biggest attraction would lie in its game space, its levels. Immersion is only as good as the worlds you inhabit. Some will laugh at that when considering the original Tomb Raiders were essentially built by stacking & sloping cubes in a world that conforms to a grid. But where some see simplistic and synthetic construction, I see a triumph in game architecture that went beyond creating a purely physical presence for me to interact with. In terms of aesthetics alone, I think levels like Lost Valley, Sanctuary of the Scion, Temple of Xian, the Opera House and The Great Pyramid are a master class. But beyond that, the levels in Tomb Raider are alive with atmosphere, something you can't really plan or purposely design. There's a sense of solitude, being alone in undiscovered places swathed in mystery, and the feeling that I was nothing more than an insignificant speck. Tomb Raider's levels are each silent behemoths, huge mazes of ancient structures and long-lost places. At the very least, it fires the adventurer inside me. And the convoluted nature of the levels adds oxygen to that fire, the main theme being the ongoing puzzle of exploration. Each new area ventured into would be presented with a wonderfully scene-setting fly-by camera, simplistic and yet more tantalising and cinematic than most of today's triple-A offerings. And as these old but new places are revealed to the accompaniment of a short & dreamy orchestral piece, the allusion that I'm lost in a place far far away from everyone else is almost tangible.
Seeing ledges high on a wall, a switch I can't yet reach, a puzzle waiting to be solved, an item laying in a far off place - Tomb Raider is clever in that it dangles carrots in front of you while simultaneously appearing to leave you completely alone. It prompts questions with every footstep. Where does that ladder go? What's beyond that door? Is that a ledge with a switch? Can I make that jump? Should I go left or right? Is that too far down to safely fall? While the paths are ultimately pre-determined, the way in which you're left to your own devices to work it all out not only underlines the feeling you're alone, but it brilliantly purveys the idea that the only thing stopping you progressing is your own indecision and/or inability. That's something all but lost nowadays with games effectively forcing their players into inflatable armbands and ushering them from beginning to end. A good sense of challenge always is a tricky balancing act, but it was one I think Core got more or less right.
The challenge in Tomb Raider was nicely layered and prioritised; exploring & navigating the layout of its giant levels, solving the puzzles of ancient mechanisms, defeating the varied denizens when they unexpectedly reared their heads. Each aspect meshed together through well thought-out pacing that always stayed true to the games' overall player-determined speed. That pacing gave us so many moments which, in the context of the games, are really somewhat understated, but that in itself grants the opposite effect when recollecting them. Opening the entrance to the Sanctuary of the Scion (a puzzle which spans two entire levels), the panic at the start of 40 Fathoms, discovering how you can go swimming with killer whales in Area 51. Individual tastes will dictate people's own 'moments', but the original Tomb Raiders are littered with them. Beyond the games' set-pieces, many will mention the secrets hidden throughout the games. For me, they really are the pinnacle of what Tomb Raider is as a game and the best representation of the challenge. In essence, each one is a small package of everything Tomb Raider has to offer, with an added level of challenge that required me to go off the beaten track and test the confidence in my skill that little bit more. They also serve to heighten the feeling of being a very small entity in a towering environment. Even once I was skilled enough to complete the games, going back and replaying levels to discover the missed nooks & crannies would forever leave me at mental crossroads. Where do I go now? What do I check next? And such contemplations would always prompt the same conclusion and reaction; me shaking my head and saying something along the lines of "Jesus, they could be anywhere". That alone is testament to the multi-tiered challenge the levels of Tomb Raider gave me.
But I think the biggest testament to the legacy Core created - the single piece of irrefutable evidence that the jury in my mind simply cannot argue against - is the fact that here I am, writing all this rubbish like an obsessed loon sixteen years later (almost to the day in fact), still playing the originals and soaking up every bit as much atmosphere and exploration as I always did. I still enjoy venturing into the dark cavernous space of Sanctuary, side-flipping over the flames of Bartoli's dragon, running scared from Tube trains in Aldwych, bouncing the Jeep across the dunes of Karnak and trapping Verdilet for an eternity in the Old Mill. Some may say nostalgia makes me biased, and maybe it does to a degree, but that nostalgia couldn't exist if the games weren't amazing in the first place.
Are You Feeling Lucky, Steampunk?
Not long ago, expert and famous cosplayer Meagan Marie unveiled a wonderful steampunk version of Lara Croft. For cosplayers this provided welcome relief; right now classic Lara is verboten under the continuing pseudo-Stalinist rewriting of Tomb Raider history (think of Core Design as Trotsky), whilst the new ‘Lara Croft (2013)’ looks like an Asian-American who fell over and got a bit muddy whilst cosplaying Katniss Everdene.
So – steampunk and classic Lara. Is there a connection?
Many of the traps and tombs featured in the classic Tomb Raider games have a Heath Robinson or Rube Goldberg feel about them. A "Rube Goldberg" machine, contraption, invention, device or apparatus is a deliberately over-engineered or overdone machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion usually including a chain reaction, whilst from the UK the term "Heath Robinson" has entered the language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption.
Think of the Cistern in Tomb Raider where, to quote Stella; “Locate two rusty keys and use them to open the doors along one wall of the main room. Find three more keys (two silver and one gold) in the side areas beyond these two doors. In the process you will need to flood the cistern at some point to raise the water level, enabling you to reach previously inaccessible areas. Use the silver and gold keys to reach the level exit.” Wouldn’t a simple door have done? But that would have been (a) realistic and (b) no fun at all, and one can detect the quirky UK humour of the game designers at work.
Now to me, all this has a faint air of steampunk about it. Why have an electronic modern door when you can have one driven by levers and pulleys and water power?
One another tack, think of the “ancient machines” that do something high tech with ancient looking components that litter Tomb Raider. An example is the Scion of Atlantis. Either it’s a key that activates the Great Pyramid or it’s a power source. Oh, and it might be a projector of ancient cine film or a hallucinogenic dream generator as well. And yet it looks like nothing more than a bit of clunky hippy jewelry. And what of the Great Pyramid itself? It has a heart beat and weird liquids pulsing through the walls, and it incubates large green eggs that disgorge semi-biomechanical monsters - anybody reminded of H.R.Giger and Alien?
Read a classic steampunk novel like Perdido Street Station by China Miévilleand you can image our aristocratic British archaeologist-adventurer fitting right in with no problem at all. Even her title - “Lady Lara Croft” - fits in with the modern Victoriana that drives steampunk
So, steampunk Lara (or archaeopunk Lara) – a good idea? Zounds, yes madam!
The Tomb Raider Bosses
If there was one thing that made Britain grateful to get widespread internet access in the '90s, it was the ability to find out how to beat Tomb Raider bosses. It didn't matter whether you were getting toasted by the dragon, munched by the T-Rex, fried by the floating iron head or left running around in confused circles wondering just what the hell you were supposed to do to defeat Karel. If you were of little patience (like me) and even less skill (like me), you were probably really, really grateful for the patience and skill of those who found the bosses' weak points and posted them online.
And they did indeed often have their weak points. You could either do it the 'right' way and dodge, flip, wheel and dive with guns blazing, or you could find that sweet spot where you were safe, take a breather, make a cup of tea, and work the enemy's life bar down bit by bit. One option was impressive and satisfying, the other was the last ditch attempt to get to the next level and one you didn't talk about in polite company.
“Terrible game design!” the de-criers decry. “Old, stupid AI!” “Go back to your DS, you Nintendo fanboy!”
But was it bad, really? Did the designers really not realise they'd programmed a level with a tiny little area where the enemy couldn't reach Lara? Or did they purposefully put it there to allow the player to take stock, form a strategy, and, yes, have somewhere to hide if they were of the camp who enjoyed playing, but just weren't that good at it? Isn't it good practice to be inclusive and to let your players plan their actions instead of just forcing them down the same one-size-fits-all route?
And let's not forget that in many cases, planning was actually needed. Not all of the bosses could be defeated with a mindless spray of bullets delivered with enough accuracy to ensure they went down before Lara did. They had weak points of a different kind – the solution.
Old Laser Eyes in TR: Chronicles had to be blinded with two well aimed laser-sighted shots, the bull in Revelations couldn't be killed but did have to be baited, and you had to enlist a little help to get rid of Seth...
I enjoyed the bosses in classic TR. Imaginative, impressive, large-scale and satisfying to defeat, I always met them with a combination of awe and panic, one eye roving the lusciously detailed settings whilst my heart hammered, and my fingers mashed the keys like there was no tomorrow. And for Lara, there often wasn't. I died so many times, but that just made it all the better when I finally won.
Bring me the mad dash, the rapidly emptying clips, the 'terrible game design' and the 'old, stupid AI' – Lara's not down yet.
Acid_Rush is a well known fanfiction writer (www.fanfiction.net/u/592266/Acid_Rush) and an alumnus of the Kurtis Trent Estrogen Brigade (www.kteb.net). She has been both winner and judge in the Village of Tokakeriby Tomb Raider Story Competitions (www.tokakeriby.co.uk)
Screen captures of fan pages from the 90's
Robert Wheeler, 21st July 1996
Luis Cunha, 29th June, 1997
Captain Alban; 27th March 1999
The Pope isn't Catholic
The new 'Lara Croft' isn't Lara Croft
Quotes from the media, 31/08/12
"Q: Did Lara still study archaeology, and is she an aristocrat?
Karl Stewart: “This is a very grounded Lara. She is still smart, she is still in college, and yes, she is still studying an element of archaeology. Is she an aristocrat? In this game we need to veer away from placing her in a social structure. She’s got a little bit of a back-story, but we don’t go into detail. Lara primarily wants to be accepted by her friends and by people in general. Her getting a job is more about wanting to socially convene with friends and be a team player rather than an issue of her not having any money. I don’t think we’d ever say ‘by the way, now she’s poor and from a broken home!’ That’s not Lara. Again, it’s not so much about financial status as it is the fact that she wants to gain experiences. That’s what Lara Croft is all about – gaining new experiences.” (Transcribed from Crystal Habit Podcast #4 (November 2011)" 
Q: Why does she sound less British and more American?
Brian Horton: "Uh ... we think she sounds more ... uh ... I guess the word would be ... we believe she sounds less of a ... uh ... what is the word? It's not a classic ... uh ... English accent but it is one if you go to London it's one of more of the streets, I mean it feels a little more mixed, it's mutlicultural. You know, right now London is a completely different place - it's much more mutlicultural. Accents are not as pure. We believe we have an authentic accent in our actress and ... uh ... what people are receiving is, there's that lack ... there is ... it's not as proper maybe as a classic Lara interpretation." (Transcribed from Tomb Raider E3 2012 Interview Jun 19, 2012 by Katie Fleming , at 13.13 minutes) 
Lara is British to the Core
first published Guns and Grapple Magazine 30/08/12
In these days of game developers messing around with Lara and trying to dilute her British roots, I’m sure that eventually someone is going to say “but there was never ever any evidence that Lara’s mother was English”. Lord Croft they can’t really mess with as he’s obviously an English aristocrat, but Lara’s mother, in contrast, could be vunerable to a Stalinist rewrite. Could she have been, for example, an American? Let’s examine the Lara Croft canon (yes, it does exist, contrary to what you may have heard recently) for clues.
(1) The accent
Lara’s mother is named Amelia (a name no doubt chosen to sound stereotypically English) and says things like “epsolutely” – listen to the dialogue from Legend if you don’t believe me. For example;
Child Lara: Are we going to crash?
Lady Croft: Not unless it's epsolutely necessary.
Therefore I’d say that Legend Lara’s Mama is pretty damned English. The voice actress, Eve Karpf, is British (not merely “British born”) and trained at the Bristol Old Vic.
(2) The Anniversary bio
The Anniversary bio (originating from unlockables in the game) seems to have disappeared from the official Tomb Raider site but can be found elsewhere and includes various factoids.
“Richard and his wife, Lady Amelia DeMornay, had Lara only a year after marrying.”
"DeMornay" with a capital D at the front and a capital M in the middle with no space before it is a very rare surname, according to ancestry.com. I found two worldwide, one from Scotland and one from Hertfordshire, UK. Rather a British surname.
CD gave the title "the Countess of Abbingdon" to Lara's mother. Now I suppose it possible that she could have gained the title from marrying an Earl (which Lord Croft self-evidently isn’t.) However the same bio tells us that "Lara Croft is the 11th Countess of Abbingdon". Interestingly, American Countess LuAnn De Lesseps from "The Real Housewives of New York City" got her title from marrying a French Compte, so maybe Richard Croft was Amelia Croft's second husband. It doesn’t seem very likely though, given that if Lara is the 11th Countess, then presumably Amelia is the 10th.
Finally, where is Abbingdon? We know it has a "Countess" (allegedly). There's Abbingdon Abbey in Oxfordshire, as well quite a lot of Abingdons (with one 'b') around the place. It's almost as if the writers of Anniversary made up a name to sound British ... which I guess suggests Lara's mother is British?
(3) The evidence from Core
The original bio of Lara begins “Lara Croft, daughter of Lord Henshingly Croft, was raised to be an aristocrat from birth” and later says “Her family soon disowned their prodigal daughter … .” I suppose it’s faintly possible that if Lara’s mother wasn’t British she’d still want her daughter raised to be an British aristocrat and would cheerfully join her husband in disowning Lara for not behaving like a British aristocrat, but it doesn’t sound very likely to me.
So there we go. Every reason to believe that both Lara’s parents were British. Therefore if any “version” of Lara pops up in the future who is not 100% British, I’d say that that version of the character is “non-canonical” and will be soon forgotten as a temporary embarrassment. Time will tell. What do you think?
(click to enlarge)
4 Alkali might be Arabic for this Hindu deity (4)
6 Dip my Ra maybe in natron before entombing him here (7)
12 A young shoot or twig of a plant in three parts (5)
16 Thomas Short, Lara Croft's hairdresser, is a grave robber (4,6)
19 A gibbon confounds Set, oddly, to enoble Lara (8,2,9)
20 Father confused Glen Shiny (9)
21 The state of being in someone's or a Viking's power (5)
24 What you might find in a pirate book without an island (8)
25 Hero sounds as if we are taking you from Laura and a Hebridean smallholding (4,5)
27 Latin worthy of love turns inside out to give an unreliable friend (6,5)
28 The Romans have a word for an unnatural portent in Angel of Darkness (8)
29 Same thing every year (11)
1 Ancient country is black land the inhabitants said (5)
2 Undertaking Captain Scott's transportation (9)
3 Tutor from V2 rocket man doesn't end in Germanic brown but in a fish shelter (6,3,4)
4 The Nephilim Turk is confused by Nottingham's river (6,5)
5 Mysterious "Age Hi Polish" gives cosmetic businesswoman (6,5)
7 Catholic priest ecstasies give insights (11)
8 Saharan raptor pistol (6,5)
9 Each Royal go confused Lara's discipline (11)
10 Nonfatal Atlas it confuses but gives us the land and the queen (5,2,8)
11 Simon Bolivar's country is a plurinational state (7)
13 Severe French articles make a history (10)
14 Sounds as if a South American fighter gives a monkey (7)
15 Sounds like where your foot or thigh is forms a myth (6)
17 Reverse bundle to make Lara's luggage (8)
18 An R-minus Thomas O'Malley the Alley Cat rules. (10)
22 Scottish doctor in movie about a young man with an unusual connection with rats (7)
23 Motorcycle fight club's star loses his head, colloquially speaking (6)
26 In the East I better search for Shangri La (5)
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How to Cosplay Like a Human Being at Conventions
by Jenn Croft
9/11/2012 (reposted with permission; original at Jenn Croft Cosplay)
In reading one of the recent articles by Molly McIsaac on iFanboy.com titled "How to Behave Like a Human Being at Conventions", I have to admit to being put off by some of the things that were talked about and it is probably not how you would expect.
I am a cosplayer who has been costuming since 2000, and have been attending conventions in costume since 2002. I have experienced every type of behavior listed in this article while in costume at a convention. I have been hit on, groped, photographed without permission, had lewd comments slung at me and while I don't condone a lot of the demeaning behavior that goes on at a lot of conventions to women in costume (ie the "cup size" interview with Mandy Caruso at NYCC '12), there are a few key points that were discussed in this article that I would like to bring up.
I want to clarify that it is completely up to the cosplayer if she wants to dress as a more revealing "sexy" character or a more modest one. However, there is quite a difference in the type of response you will get at a convention. In the subject of candid butt photography a lot of women rage on this type of behavior without thinking of what it actually means when someone does this. To the average female cosplayer, they regard this as an invasive and rude gesture meant to demean her. To me, I consider it a compliment to the hard work I have put into my diet and exercise regimen in order to more closely represent the unrealistic ideals of comic book art. What difference does it make if the person asked for the photo or not? The result is the same. They have a photo of your exposed ass-- which was your decision to display for all to see.
In her article, Molly asks us "If you saw a stranger on the street, would you behave this way towards them?" and my answer is "Are they dressed in the same skimpy outfit showing the same amount of ass? If so, then yes! And most men would as well." Conventions aren't any different than bars or pubs or restaurants or any other public place. If you dress in a revealing manner, you are going to get at least a few people who do things like this. And guess what-- you cannot control it. Men will always be attracted to a great toned female ass or great cleavage or stomach or anything else.
In the subject of "No Touching!" I have a few things to say about that. There are some instances where touching is extremely inappropriate and wrong; case in point being butt touching. I have had this happen before at a convention, where a sneaky patron in a thick crowd grabs my butt, knowing that I will never be able to identify who did it. This is 100% wrong and is sexual harassment and can be prosecuted against. However, when a person asks me nicely for a photograph with a smile on their face, I am expecting them to put an arm around me if they want to, and most times I am the one who puts an arm around them. I like to be warm and inviting. Some people go lower in the waist than I feel is ideal but different people have different ideas of what is comfortable or not and I can sacrifice one moment of awkwardness to save a fan the embarassment of confrontation. I like to represent a idea of my character that is very personable and friendly. I want people to see a version of Lara Croft who enjoys being around people, as opposed to someone who is standing stiff armed two feet away from the person who is in the photograph with them. So if I must, I will grab their hand and move it away. It takes two seconds and not even a moment's thought.
Being in cosplay to me isn't just about getting attention from the other convention go-ers. I like my costume to represent the character well and to improve the experience for everyone around me. I don't go to a convention thinking in terms of "me, me, me". I go to a convention thinking about how much fun I can have and how I can pass that off onto others. I don't worry myself with questions about if some "pervert" is fantasizing about me in his hotel room later on because the truth is, I don't care! And it's an individual's choice and right who they can fantasize about, as long as they aren't stalking me or impeding on my wellbeing.
If you are feeling very uncomfortable about what an attendee is doing towards you, or they blatantly crossed the line from legal to illegal harassing behavior, by all means speak up! But for anything less, I encourage you to think twice. Do you really want to be "that chick" who is telling people "Don't touch me!" or reprimanding another attendee for taking a picture of her eating a cheeseburger. These people are taking pictures of us because they like us and appreciate our costumes and/or physical beauty. Be happy about it. See the positive in this instead of focusing on what these people did wrong. We represent cosplayers all over the world when we go to a convention in costume.
Your convention experience depends a lot on what you make of it. Enjoy it!
Panic! Panic Now!
The Tomb Raider Scares
Ben from next door was looking bemused.
“Are you ok?” he asked, standing at my door. “I heard a scream.”
He'd had to rescue the girl from 301 from a spider the week before, he was probably thinking he'd moved in to a corridor full of total sissies and I'd encountered an errant late-Autumn wasp or something.
“Oh,” I replied, rather embarrassed. “Sorry. There was a bear.”
Ben's expression took a step up to, 'nonplussed'.
“I'm playing Tomb Raider. A bear snuck up on me.”
“Oh.” Understanding dawned and he grinned. “Yeah, I'm playing Max Payne.”
Scares are universally understood within the gamer community, and Tomb Raider was always pretty good at dealing them out, usually in the form of the sudden appearance of weird and wacky enemies that probably took a lot more damage than Lara did.
Remember those giant spiders? Yeah, me too. The eels? Yup.
For somebody armed to the teeth as I made my way through Lara's many adventures, I was always very on edge when I entered new places, partly because I'd very quickly come to expect enemies that were fast, strange, and unannounced.
And once I'd seen two or three of the same type and figured out the best way to deal with them, I then had the worry of running out of the appropriate ammunition and being left with nothing but the slow-acting pistols. And even if I didn't, would I survive? What if it got out of camera shot and my next clue as to its whereabouts was a lightning fast clawed limb flashing into view? And all against the backdrop of that, 'Panic, panic now!' leitmotif? Never mind Lara's cuts and bruises, what about my heart?
It made me paranoid.
See that really nicely rendered statue over there? Looks great, doesn't it? Really authentic.
Forget the art appreciation, creep up on it and PUMP IT FULL OF LEAD in case it's about to come alive.
Sometimes it did. Sometimes it didn't.
That was the way the designers kept us on our toes. We didn't get desensitised because the scares were intermittent and unpredictable. What about that cut scene with the ghost in Chronicles where it just glides through the gate? The first time I saw that I was convinced the gameplay was about to switch back on with the spectre taking a very sudden and grotesque interest in me, like the librarian in Ghost Busters, instead it just went on its way. I didn't quite know what to do. It threw me. Should I follow? Was it safe?
Looking back, I sometimes wonder just why I enjoyed these games so much. Perhaps I'm just a little bit crazy.
True Or False Dawn?
Nobody was more over-joyed than myself (or even except myself) when I read the latest IGN interview with Rhianna Pratchett. “Thank God I’ve been so wrong,” I thought. “Either that, or they've changed their minds in the last few months under a fanship-wide blizzard of criticism.” The paragraph that raised a weak cheer in the NCR household was this one from “Rewriting Lara Croft”;
“Other aspects of her family background are different, however. In the new Tomb Raider, 21-year-old Lara still comes from a very wealthy family, but her parents are missing (the game doesn’t really explore why) and she won’t touch the money because doing so would be a tacit admission that they aren’t coming back. Instead of dipping into her inherited wealth, she’s working several jobs to put herself through her archaeology studies at University – not at Oxford or Cambridge, as you might expect for a girl so faultlessly posh, but at UCL in London. There’s no luxurious, secret-stuffed Croft Manor to run around, breaking series tradition – the whole game is confined to the island, and how they came to be there."
Then I re-read it, and the worm of doubt began to eat into the juicy apple of PR that had been plonked before me. Was it possible that Rhianna had been prebriefed by the world’s cleverest Irishman, Karl Stewart? After all, being “rich” isn’t the same as being in the British aristocracy – is new Lara’s father still a Lord? – and there’s no mention in the interview about new Lara's parents (or her) actually being British. The shift from Oxbridge (mythically connected somehow with classic Lara’s aristocratic education – see elsewhere in this rag and at Stella's excellent blog) to UCL - “There is a long tradition of American students studying at UCL” - seems faintly significant. Is there still a hidden anti-British Republican agenda lurking belong the shiny PR blather? It's also kind of weird that Rhianna used the phrase "Other aspects of her family background are different, however" when on the surface it sounds much the same as before. Freudian slip? Time will tell.
If course no Crystal interview would be complete without the traditional "subtle" dig at Core Design, in this case; "Over the years I fell out of love with Lara; she’d become a pair of boobs with a couple of guns attached" and "Lara became an umapproachable ice queen". You know the way that the latest British government fails to divert attention from what it is doing by relentless blamng the previous government? PR wonk; “No matter how badly we’re doing, we want you to concentrate on Angel of Darkness.” Well, I’m sure the writers of the more recent games, Murti Scofield, Eric Lindstrom, Matt Ragghianti and the sainted Toby Gard himself will be nodding and chuckling at the description of their version of Lara as “a pair of boobs with a couple of guns attached” and will be giving the newest addition to their crew of scribblers a big “thumbs-up” for her self-confidence.
Lara’s first kill in the new “Tomb Raider” game (2013) isn’t a bat, but Bambi. Apparently she shoots him dead with a bow and arrow – quite hard to do unless you’re a skilled hunter - and then apologises to the dying/dead little fellow (or so I’m told). We are supposed to examine her new “realistic” face to deduce her feelings (in case her stream-of-consciousness muttering didn’t clue us in) and she looks a bit “put out”. I assume she’s sad that she killed something, although an equally strong possibility is that she cannot work out how to turn deer into food without a knife. I assume she beats its skull open with a rock and hungrily licks out the hot, tasty brains, but I haven’t played the game. Tough learning curve for a gal brought up on stuff like Italian Submarines and Cobb Salad from the Beyer Deli. However she recovers quickly and starts using Thumper and his woodland chums for target practice. Her first human kill comes a bit later when a SFT (Sinister Foreign Type) tries to rape her to put his hand up her blouse, and - having lost her Mace spray and gas-powered horn on the ship - she shoots him. Judging from the screen shots she then wigs out so much her features become slightly Japanese and she smears crap all over her face. (Apologies if I described it wrong or didn’t handle this last scene with the tact and maturity of the PR experts from Crystal Dynamics, but I wasn’t invited to the previews and only have the press reports.)
So when did this saponification of the hard-edged and witty sociopath we’d all come to know and love begin?
Here’s ‘Lara’s first kill’ as described on the WikiRaider page for Anniversary (1);
“Larson taunts her, betting she will not shoot him. Insistent on impeding her path, he tells her she would never shoot him because, "that's just not who you are." Lara replies, "I'm not who you think I am". This resulted in Lara shooting him three times in the chest. Larson falls to his knees, and lays down to the ground gasping for air, his hand reaching out to Lara for help. Lara rests her hand on his chest and turns him over, taking the key from his pocket. Looking at her hands horrified at what she has done and completely forgetting that she thought that it was for the good of all man, she vigorously dusts off the imaginary blood on her hands, greatly remorseful from her first human kill thus far.”
There’s no need for me to remind you about the widespread derision that greeted this scene, Crystal’s first attempt at “de-antiheroing” Lara. We can compare it to the vaguely similar Tomb Raider 1 game where - as described in tombraidergirl’s walkthrough (2) – the player must;
“Pick up the large medipack and the magnum ammo. Slide down and climb into the passage up on the left. Inside you will find Larson again. Finish him off. Then run up the left passage and collect the last part of the scion.” If only Core had benefited us with a cutscene showing Lara emoting furiously over “finishing him off” how much more of a three-dimensional character she’d have been, eh readers?
Let’s take a deeper trip into the ill-documented Dark Ages of Lara Croft when she didn’t have a personality.
The final point of classic Lara’s alleged “descent into savagery” can be seen at the end of TR3 where she smiles at and then murders a presumably innocent helicopter pilot (or even at the end of TR2 where she shoots the player for accidently catching her in her dressing gown.) So what happened prior to that?
The chronology of Core’s Tomb Raider is vaguely confusing, but I thought I’d go with that published in the Angel of Darkness Companion (3).
The beginning of this timeline is;
Enrolled at Wimbledon High School for Girls, age 11
Cambodian expedition with Von Croy
Investigation of haunted Black Isle, Ireland
Sent to boarding school at Gordonstoun, Scotland
Enrolled at Swiss finishing school
Plane crash in Himalayas (1989)
Inherits Surrey mansion and butler from Great Aunt (1990)
Visits Rome to buy the Philosopher’s Stone (1995)
So if Lara’s birth year lies between 1967 and 1970, then (by 1995) she is 25-28 before she carries out her first “Core Design kill” in Rome. Who are the unlucky guys? Some gladiators - who are trying to “gladius” our heroine. Lara shoots them.
Where and when did she learn to shoot? Neither her “Cambodian expedition with Von Croy” or “Investigation of haunted Black Isle, Ireland” show her using guns, so that narrows down the time window. Gordonstoun School (where Lara would have presumably been in the senior year) features in its curriculum a “.22 rifle range” and an Officers’ Cadet Corps among other things (4). Swiss Finishing Schools had almost ceased to exist by the time Lara was sent to one (5) but looking at what was still open - Institut Alpin Videmanette, which Diana, Princess of Wales attended or Mon Fertile, where the Duchess of Cornwall was partly educated – it’s unknown (to this writer) whether they taught self-defense or gun-craft alongside skiing.
What seems much more likely to me was that Lara was tutored in the use of guns at home – see the firing range in the grounds in TR2. I would have also thought she was part of the huntin’, fishin’ and shootin’ crowd (6) associated with big houses in the British countryside (fox hunting was still legal) and so I find it unlikely that the first time she shot any wildlife was at the age of 22 on a Japanese island.
“Blooding” is defined as “to smear the cheeks or forehead of (a person) with the blood of the kill as an initiation in hunting” and I’d have thought that ritual a very likely occurrence for young Lara. What do you think?
The Niece of the Queen
Tomb Raider reforms The House of Lords and chucks Lara Croft out
I'll begin with a quote from Darrell Gallagher (one of the gang from Crystal Dynamics who have taken it upon themselves to “do over” Lara with extreme prejudice) taken from an article in MCV magazine amusingly entitled "Rebuilding Tomb Raider: The return of Lara Croft" (1).
“The thing we want to do is make her a more modern version of a young British girl versus somebody that was so, I hate to use the word ‘posh’, but in a sphere where she had a butler. She wasn’t that relatable – almost like the niece of the queen or something.. You look at some of the actresses that are popular at this point, someone like a Keira Knightley, she’s just a very likeable English girl and that’s the kind of person that you’d imagine Lara to be like. We really wanted to make her a little bit closer to somebody you could know.”
Where to start?
1. Firstly this is yet more evidence that the game developers have decided they have the right to demote Lady Lara Croft from the aristocracy. How jolly Republican and "right on" of them. Good job she isn't a world famous icon who everybody already thinks of as "posh".
2. Prosaically, the only niece of the Queen is a woman called Lady Sarah Chatto. Now I realise the intervewee was being flip about the culture he knows so little about, but let's go along with the forced jocularity anyway and get in a return dig about Americans being "ignorant and parochial". According to Wikipedia; "Lady Sarah Chatto attended the Camberwell School of Art and Middlesex Polytechnic (Middlesex University since 1992) and is a professional painter, represented by the Redfern Gallery." In contrast(?); “Keira Knightley lived in Richmond, attending Stanley Junior School, Teddington School and Esher College”, made her debut in Star Wars at the age of 14 and is a multimillionare Hollywood actress. Now I'm not sure which of the two is more "relatable" or "the kind of person that you’d imagine Lara to be like," but as far as I can see the only difference between them is that one has a title and the other not. Therefore I suspect that demoting Lara has more to do with inverse snobbishness than with "realism". Disrespectful, culturally imperialist and Anglophobic?
3. The title of the MCV article/PR puff. Have they refined the words “rebuilding” and “return” whilst I wasn’t looking?
Lara Croft raises thousands for Charity
From the Eidos website, 9th May 2002
The lucky bidder who finally secured the outfit was Paul Lai, a successful international tax specialist. Paul says: “It’s crazy to think I now own the outfit of the video game industry’s first sex symbol. I’m proud to help such a good cause as UNICEF. I don’t intend to wear the costume, first I’ll have to find a girlfriend with Lara’s build!”
The outfit was worn by Nell McAndrew during her 1998/1999 reign as the official Lara Croft look-a-like. Lara Croft will never be seen wearing this outfit again as the new-look costume was unveiled earlier this year by new Lara model, Jill de Jong.
Rose Nelson, UNICEF regional fundraising manager– London says: “The magnificent £4,400 that Eidos has raised for UNICEF by auctioning Lara Croft’s outfit will go a very long way to helping some of the world’s 130million+ children who are currently not receiving an education. The money generated through Lara’s outfit will help UNICEF to continue working world-wide so that EVERY child can reach their full potential.”
Jeremy Heath-Smith, managing director of Core Design, developers of Tomb Raider says: “We are thrilled with the amount of money the auction has made for UNICEF. We know Lara has some very dedicated fans from all over the world, but this is a real tribute to the first lady of gaming.”
A Blast from the Past
Lara Croft was born to Lord Henshingly Croft on February 14th, 1968 in Wimbledon, London. From the age of three, she received private tutoring until she was eleven years old. Miss Croft was then enrolled in the Wimbledon High School for Girls through the age of sixteen. Throughout her childhood years as the daughter of Lord Croft, she was brought up in the secure world of aristocracy, surrounded by tennis, butlers and corgis. But this all started to change the summer after completing high school.
Although Lara's academics were outstanding, she was an adventurous soul and had a somewhat impulsive nature. It is likely that Lara inherited her restless nature and desire for adventure from her father. Her father had often visited archaeological digs in places such as Jordan, Egypt and South America in his youth. Although he had little time to read after Lara was born, he still subscribed to archaeological journals and on the odd occasion when he had time to spend with Lara, she would listen, totally captivated, as he recounted his experiences.
Her parents were concerned that Lara's life needed more structure, and had considered sending her on a trip to the continent to spend the remainder of the summer with her aunt. Instead, she convinced her father to allow her to join Professor Werner Von Croy, a respected archaeologist, on a tour across Asia. The expedition came to an end in a tragic accident in Cambodia.
After returning from Cambodia, Lara was sent to the renowned boarding school of Gordonstoun where she found the mountains of Scotland. At Gordonstoun, Miss Croft was found to be not much of a team player. She discovered rock climbing there and would often set off into the hills alone during netball practice. Miss Croft also took up shooting as an extra-curricular activity but was instantly banned for showing "too keen an interest". At the age of eighteen Miss Croft's parents sent her to a Swiss finishing school2 in hopes of teaching her how to fit into society. While in Switzerland, she took to the art of skiing. 
In 1989, after graduating from finishing school at the age of twenty-one, Miss Croft's marriage into wealth had seemed assured. Upon completing her education, she decided to spend a holiday in the Himalayas searching for more challenging skiing terrain. However, on her way home from the skiing trip, her chartered plane crashed deep in the heart of the Himalayas. The only survivor, young Miss Croft learned how to depend on her wits to stay alive in hostile conditions a world away from her sheltered upbringing.
She walked into the mountain village of Tokakeriby two weeks later. Having battled the elements alone in the Himalayas, she gained a new perspective on herself that made her luxurious past seem shallow and empty. Those experiences had a profound effect on her. Unable to stand the claustrophobic suffocating atmosphere of upper-class British society any longer, Miss Croft realised that she was only truly alive when she was traveling alone.
Despite this drastic life change, Miss Croft still retains the essence of her upbringing - most notably with her polite, upper-class accent. Lara's parents though, having sported hopes of her marrying the Earl of Farringdon, were less than convinced about this chosen lifestyle and ceased to associate with their daughter - even terminating her monthly allowance. The Earl is still waiting.
Over the following eight years she acquired an intimate knowledge of ancient civilisations across the globe. Although Miss Croft never attended a university as a full-time student, she did derive much of her knowledge of archaeology and anthropology from some of the most prestigious universities in Britain3 through correspondence and posting her work straight in from the field.
In her studies, Miss Croft undertook quite interesting project work and formed friendships with some of the lecturers and librarians at the university. One faculty member in particular, seeing past Miss Croft's unorthodox situation, recognized her potential and took a personal interest in her studies4.
Besides her academic endeavors, Miss Croft was finally free to pursue her interests and develop her skills in shooting, and has become an expert marksman. Although usually seen packing a pair of pistols, she has familiarized herself with a wide range of firearms including various automatic weapons from around the world.
Over the years, her expeditions have also required her to become proficient in the operation of many kinds of vehicles including watercraft, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft. Despite her extensive driving and piloting skills, the Norton Streetfighter motorcycle is still her vehicle of choice.
When home in England, Miss Croft lives in a mansion in Surrey, which she inherited from a great aunt5 who had become her benefactor when her parents withdrew their support from her. [3, 4] At one time she saw little use for the mansion but now realises that, if nothing else, it is at least handy for storing all the artifacts she has acquired on her travels. Along with the mansion, Miss Croft inherited her great aunt's butler, Winston. 
Her family having disowned their prodigal daughter, Miss Croft turned to writing to fund her trips. Renown for discovering several ancient sites of profound archaeological interest, she made a name for herself by publishing travel books and detailed journals of her exploits.
Over the years, Miss Croft has traveled the globe under the employ of institutions, private collectors, as well as for her own interests. Lara Croft has retrieved artifacts of great antiquity to add to museum galleries as well as her own personal collection6.
In 1996, soon after hunting down a "Bigfoot" in North America, Lara was hired by Jaqueline Natla, of Natla Technologies, to search for the Atlantean Scion. This search called her away from her planned activities in India and eventually led to her discovery what remained of the legendary island continent of Atlantis.
After her emprise to Atlantis, Miss Croft returned to Egypt to further investigate the ruins she found there previously. Upon her return home, she discovered that she had some unfinished business in Atlantis, and so returned to the Mediterranean.
In 1997, for personal reasons4, Miss Croft set out for China. Her investigations lead her to the discovery of a mythical artifact known as the Dagger of Xian.
It was not long after Lara found the Dagger of Xian that she also decided to search for an ancient Inuit artifact, the Golden Mask of Tornasuk, on a remote island in the Bering Sea.
Miss Croft returned to India in 1998 to continue her search for the legendary Infada artifact. She later learned that the Infada artifact was just one of four artifacts all of which were carved from a mysterious meteorite that landed on an island near Antarctica millions of years ago. Her quest for the other three artifacts took her on an adventure that spanned the globe.
Most recently, Miss Croft has returned to Egypt in search of a lost tomb.
(alas mostly no longer accessible - Ostercy)
Arnold, V. Tomb Raider CD Insert.
Arnold, V. "Lots About Plots" Correspondence with Brian Chew on December 9, 1998.
Arnold, V. "Lara Interviewed!" Gamers' Republic Magazine, December, 1998.