Tomb Raider Creators Deny Attempted ‘Rape’ Scene Is An Attempted Rape Scene

Tomb Raider Creators Deny Attempted ‘Rape’ Scene Is An Attempted Rape Scene

The creators of the new Tomb Raider have denied that their new game features an “attempted rape scene”, directly contradicting their own statements to Kotaku last week.

Addressing the widespread reactions to the article posted on this site yesterday, Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher released a statement today saying that there is no rape attempt against Tomb Raider hero Lara Croft the scene shown in their “Crossroads” trailer.

“One of the character defining moments for Lara in the game, which has incorrectly been referred to as an ‘attempted rape’ scene is the content we showed at this year’s E3 and which over a million people have now seen in our recent trailer entitled ‘Crossroads’,” Gallagher wrote. “This is where Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time. In this particular selection, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly.

“Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game.”

This directly contradicts a statement made from Crystal Dynamics Executive Producer Ron Rosenberg to Kotaku last week in Los Angeles. Here’s the full transcript from that interview:

RON: “And then what happens is her best friend gets kidnapped, she gets taken prisoner by scavengers on the island. They try to rape her, and-”

KOTAKU: “They try to rape her?”

RON: “She’s literally turned into a cornered animal. And that’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s either forced to fight back or die and that’s what we’re showing today.”

Here’s a YouTube clip of the scene in question:


  • Of course they try and rape her. But is that a problem? I didn’t realise games weren’t allowed to deal with topics like that. I wouldn’t be comfortable with a situation where they succeed, but if the plot is he tries and she kills him, well what’s wrong with that? There are always men who will take advantage of a woman sexually. Seems a bit disingenuous of the devs to now deny it. Maybe they’re worried about the Hitman overreaction?

    • Not just Hitman. Mass Effect has alien sex and potential homosexuality, and it gets plastered over the mainstream news as a bastion of immorality in games.

      Can you see the headlines: “Gamers witness the rape of Lara Croft: In her latest outing, the buxom tomb raider will complete the degradation of women by… etc etc etc… ACL condemn the game, but secretly order twenty copies, blah blah blah”

      Sales for this game will be rocky enough, I think (or at least not Mass Effect level of success), without having that kind of negative press for it – so the devs are trying to contain potential fallout by promising a middle-of-the-road experience. Sad, but I think true.

    • I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand, I think games should be able to be broach any subject. However, I also think they need to approach some subjects respectfully. I’m not sure you can approach rape respectfully with a character that most people associate with “sex marketing”. Obviously there toning down the sex appeal angle in this game, but I just don’t think this is the right character for this subject.

      • I agree with your first statement. With a massive caveat being “if done well” I think that using Lara is the perfect idea. You take this globally known character that was the tipping point of video games 16 years ago and then she’s dealing with this situation. It puts it out there, you can not ignore it, now people are confronted with it. Something that people do their best to hide from. We’ll see soon I guess.

    • I guess the issue is this is being treated as the Lara Corft “origin” story. I don’t think it’s that games can’t handle the subject matter of attempted sexual assault, I think it’s more that people feel that using this as a tool to harden Lara as a person is just lazy. It feels like the writers said “There’s only one thing that shows a woman is tough! Defending herself against rapists!”.

      Having seen the gameplay trailer where she’s talking on the radio with an unknown woman/girl who’s trapped elsewhere and trying to get, I honestly think that that would have been good enough.

      I’m with you on the Hitman matter, and I don’t think it’s the content of this situation that bothers me, it’s just that it feels like this is a copout.

  • I’m actually not worried if there is an attempted rape scene in the game, it probably would make for a really defining character development moment, and add a fair bit to the game. Bit of a shame that they’re wimping out now.

  • I think what upsets people is that this sort of thing is EVERYWHERE. i.e. that a woman can’t be in a game without being sexual.

    • I don’t believe they were trying to make this sexual.

      My understanding is that they are using a universally understood depiction of complete physical subjugation to enforce how messed up a situation this naive young hero is in – there are big, bad people out there willing to do big, bad things – and exactly what is needed to trigger their first human kill.

      The fact she’s a woman should be secondary to that.

      • I see it a little differently. The fact that she’s a woman in a line of work dominated by physically dominating and violent men is actually kind of the point.

        She might not be vulnerable because she’s a woman, but she is a target because she’s a woman. To try to pretend that gender isn’t an issue in places where the law doesn’t exist is kind of disingenuous and unrealistic… as much as we all wish the world was that way, it isn’t.

        • +1

          You see this all the time in apocalypse scenarios too where respect for everybody – not just women – becomes completely nullified. If you’ve seen something like the Book of Eli, when law gets thrown out the window, people will do very grim things to others for their own personal gain.

          • agreed with all of the above. But I think some of these games recently are getting this attention more because it’s a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ kind of thing. It can seem as though EVERY woman in a game is only there in a sexual capacity.

            Admittedly there are times it’s important to the story. I agree that this character undergoing certain kinds of suffering may be necessary for the development of the specific character (I personally don’t agree with where they’re going, but I see that if they’re going there, this is necessary).

            However, it’s on top of everything else. People are fed up.

  • Wow this basically the same sort of controversy that the AC Catwoman stage got with the whole how the bad guys were shouting things like “bitch” or something. I agree with McGarnical, if the bad guys don’t succeed to do something so vile like this, what’s the issue here? I also agree with Lachlan that this can show real character development. It’s crude and highly impacting to the one watching sure like in the trailer, but that just makes it even more solid as to how Lara Croft came to be the tomb raider we already knew. She didn’t become a dual gun wielding badass with teddys and rainbows did she? Probably a bad example but yeah I’ll stick by it cuz my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet 😛

  • I agree that this would be a character defining moment, but surely it is entirely unnecessary to actually have to sit through in-game. I’m fairly sure that it could be ‘implied’ and have the same effect.

    CD are treading a fine line with this one.

    • It really depends how it goes. If it’s a “Imma rape you… wait, you just shot me in the head.” then it’s a very low-impact scene. Indeed, the devs might be just trying to say that it is a low-impact scene, and not to build any kind of expectations around it.

    • Judging by the clip the attempted rape lasts all of 10 seconds and the guy doesn’t even get as far as taking a single layer of clothing off before he takes a bullet. If any message is being presented here, it’s that women can fight back.

  • A solid dramatic storyline in any movie/tv show/game is only a good thing.. It’s great these publishers are stepping up the narrative portion of games, there os nothing more compelling to play through a game.

  • the issue is that when games get released things like this get taken wrongly (Flight Simulator training terrorists)(Call Of Duty Teaching Killing)(Need For Speed Showing Street Racing) are all games of the past that have been put into the firing line because someone who is most likely disturbed had a copy of a game and did something like it, then the media blames the game…. This could be the same if someone plays this game and sees that scene and thinks nothing of it but then a month later rapes someone the video game showing a brief moment of a rape like scene will be the first reason on why they did it. It’s sad but its the world we live in.

  • I don’t get why an attempted rape scene is a big deal. Bad guys try to do bad things to her and she kills them, just like in every other game. It’s nothing I haven’t seen in countless movies, either. Movies with 15+ ratings at that. So why does it matter that it’s in a game? From what I’ve seen this game looks intense, well written and just different enough to be awesome.

    • “just like in every other game” – from what I understand of the women and men writing and talking about this stuff a lot lately, that’s kind of the point.

      Every. Other. Game. I don’t mean women getting raped, but I mean women only being present in a sexual manner and having nothing else to offer. Even if they’re assassins… they’re half naked assassins. Why?

  • It sounds like the Ron was just trying to hype up the point and went a bit too far in the way he was describing the moment, in order to give it more impact, and now everyone is trying to call him on it.

  • If games are ever to be considered more than something children do then these sorts of adult themes have every right to be in games. They should stick to their guns and defend their right to portray a sensitive topic like this. There are plenty of movies with rapes scenes in them, some ending up in the rape being successful. Why can’t a video game show this if it is done in a context that isn’t exploitative but makes the story(Art) more compelling and emotionally engaging.

  • Where’s all the controversy? Wheres all the rabbling? This would be on the news and debated heavily if it was a serious concern so you can all quit it with the platitudes.

  • There was an attempted rape scene recently in a very popular and successful TV show. If the scene in Tomb Raider is going to become contentious shouldn’t the scene from the TV show too?

    • I believe I know what you’re talking about there. In that case, the attempted rapists are violently disemboweled within moments of the attempt, and the woman’s rescue is foreshadowed. Cross-reference that with a video game, where, say, it’s a QTE that requires a successful button input from the player to avoid being raped.

  • The problem is the way the sequence was framed by the producer. He mentioned the ‘attempted rape’ kinda offhandedly, which, coupled with the quotes about Lara being put through the wringer physically and emotionally, makes it sound exploitative. Ironically, in the footage the ‘rape’ part is the only thing that doesn’t seem exploitative – she gets stabbed in the gut, steps in a bear trap, gets attacked by a wolf and gets double-crossed by her friends all while screaming and crying, but the rape is only implied by a hand on the waist and an attempt to kiss her neck.

    Of course rape is a hard issue to tell with maturely in something so mainstream as a Tomb Raider game, but if the producer hadn’t mentioned it, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal at all.

  • I love how my last comment didn’t upload properly.

    Game journos will write articles about how video games can tell stories as good as movies, but will then question why a video game contains any subject that isn’t safe for kids.

    HURR DURR nice work fellas.

  • evolution of a female character requires an attempted rape? reasonable arguement, given the role attempted rape has played in the evolution of male characters in such games as……? oh wait, none.

    pretty sure this is why people go batsh*t. BS hypocrisy.

    • Umm actually if anything your post points out that male-rape is marginalised and misrepresented. There’s nothing wrong with using attempted rape as character development in storytelling item for either sex. Using it for women characters is less sexist against women than the lack of using it for men is sexist for men.

      • splitting hairs, mate. point is you won’t get a male character narrowly avoiding rape as a mechanism for character development because writers are capable of thinking of other ways.

        but female? gotta fit them into the limited “female characters in games” archetypes etc.

        • Also, a woman is HUGELY more likely to be raped than a man. And like others have said, she is in a male, (usually idiot male), dominated world.
          So yes, in her universe it is much more likely that she will be a target of rape than someone like Nathan Drake, (since he is always compared to Tomb Raider). In the uncharted universe one of the female characters would be more likely to be targeted in this manner, but Drake is the protaganist who would save that distressed damsel if necessary, and also It’s Drakes character that the audience wants to know the evolution of.

  • I think, like anything else, context is the important part.

    If the events they’re portraying are consistent with both the story and the characters, then go ahead and put it in and don’t let moral outrage from people who haven’t played it (and most likely won’t play it either way) change their mind. If they’re just shoehorning it in there for the sake of it (whether the motivation is for some kind of sick titillation or to drum a bit of free publicity through the inevitable controversy) then that’s exploitative and they should leave it out.

  • Attempted rape in the story? Fine, it’s a pretty gritty story, it makes sense as a turning point for Lara. Using the fact that it happens as a tool to promote the game and it’s story? Not cool. 1. way to ruin the surprise and suspense when it happens! 2. it looks and sounds really bad from a PR perspective.

    I think it’s fine, but by mentioning it at the E3 they’ve mishandled it, and now they’re in damage control. I feel bad for the guy who mentioned it, it was probably just a slip up, he immediately refocuses on how Lara needs to adapt and become a survivor.

  • Looks like he’s reaching for his gun to me… or checking her for weapons. Either way, an attempted rape scene is nothing.

    If they actually put a cutscene hinting that she had been raped that would be kinda wrong. (showing half seconds of her struggling against a man who is trying to kis her). But she kicks the guy in the balls (from what i can make out). And i don’t think they would be that stupid that if there was a rape scene in it, they wouldn’t actually show it. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    Apart from that if someone said to me “Did you see that new Tomb Raider trailer? There’s a rape scene in it!” I would question the statement and simply state, “i doubt it”

    • That’s a big problem, you see when you say “I’m always amazed” by something, it usually means it’s getting progressively worse.

  • Pepe le pew is the most enthusastic rapist in history. And he was marketed toward children….

    A scene in Tomb Raider, where there’s an indication, however slight, that his intent is to Rape Lara causes this much media attention? Lara is going to hand him a massive, gigantic slice of getf$*ked pizza with extra meatballs. He’s going to die horribly, probably choking on his teeth, while Lara is curb stomping his genitals…

  • Its funny how any ADULT game that deals with any ADULT theme is condemned by ADULTS lol Now if were a CHILDRENS game that dealt with ADULT themes then maybe that would be different, but no…. i think we have too many sheltered 21st century ADULTS out there.

  • I don’t care if it contains sexual assault. There’s no reason why games shouldn’t be able to deal with that theme in the same way movies do. There are countless movies out there containing rape scenes that can be bought at your local JB-HiFi.

    *I spit on your grave
    *Cannibal Holocaust

    Those are just three of the hundreds, even thousands of films that deal with sexual assault/rape in a very “in your face” way. These are legal in Australia, uncut and I don’t see why games shouldn’t be able to deal with the subject.

    Nuff said.

    • I agree, as long as it’s handled well and is part of the story. It would be tantamount to poking your head in the ground, to not cover what is one of the most unspoken about things in western society. The U.S. rape rate is 4 times higher than Germany, 13 times higher than England and 20 times higher than Japan. Japan is about as open about rape as a nation could possibly be and it’s got a low rate of sexual assault. The USA where you can’t even see a pair of tits on TV is out of control.

  • If I remember correctly didn’t Heavy Rain have a point where possible rape was suggested with the reporter girl.

  • Hey, remember how Master Chief nearly got raped at the end of Halo 3 to build his character and develop his back story in preperation for Halo 4…?


    me neither.

    • 1. No one’s saying a near-rape experience is required for character growth. It’s one of the infinite possibilities.

      2. Master Chief has no character.

  • So no rape, no swearing, no racism, no violence. Nothing that has been used in stories for millennia, it’s called ADVERSITY. Basically every single character in a story written by human beings has over come it. If we start moral censorship based on what might offend we might as well stop creating. If the scene in question turns out being in bad taste the developer will be called out for it and will cop a beating. Sexual assault was covered in Degrassi Junior High for Christ’s sake.

  • 1) My first question for someone would be is, “who (in their right mind) would even want to play a game where a woman is raped?” Anyone playing this game would want to see where the game goes if they do not “defeat” the man supposedly about to rape her. Having rape in a movie is different than having it on a video game, you can’t control what happens in a movie, you can control what happens in the game.
    2) Rape is definitely an important topic to be aware of, but having it in a game setting is unthinkable and dangerous.
    3) Our media is (for lack of a better word) “normalizing” violence of any kind. I do not believe that it would be a wise idea to let or encourage young people (or adults for that matter) to interact in a game where these types of violence are committed.

  • She wasnt raped. The guy got beaten and shot in the face for laying a hand on her.
    The way I see it thats totally empowering for women.
    He was thinking about raping her and he got seriously fucked up.

  • that’s not tomb raider… that’s even not lara croft… is Lara croft has lost her skill??
    her beautifully skill that not let a man touch her…
    even if she get captured by enemies, her eyes are still sharp like tiger waiting for the chance…
    from what i saw, it’s justlike ‘panicked’ women try to survive from… bandit 😀

  • @Vertigoo: This is a reboot of Tomb Raider, so comparing this one with the last versions of Tomb Raider is wasted time. We have no idea what they will have for Lara, so all we can do is waiting. As for the “rape scene”, this does not concern me, because I don’t buy this game (I will) for this, but for the thrill, which it shows and I really hope, that it will gives me goosebumps, because I had no game, that gave me a chill for thrill since Resident Evil 1 on the PS1.

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