Lara Croft, the Bit Girl: How a Game Star Became a '90S Icon

By Croal, N'Gai; Hughes, Jane | Newsweek, November 10, 1997 | Go to article overview

Lara Croft, the Bit Girl: How a Game Star Became a '90S Icon


Croal, N'Gai, Hughes, Jane, Newsweek


How a game star became a '90s icon.

IT'S NOT EASY BEING Lara Croft. After the British aristocrat and adventure-seeking archeologist starred in last year's hit Tomb Raider, she appeared on the cover of 40 magazines, toured with U2, modeled Gucci fashions and recorded a single with ex-Eurythmics guitarist Dave Stewart. All the while, she's been in China, Tibet and Venice working on the sequel. But you won't hear Lara whine about her hectic schedule. When you're a woman made of more than 540 polygons, part of your job is making it all look easy.

Equal parts Pamela Andemon and Indiana Jones with a dash of La Femme Nikita, Lara Croft is the computer-generated action heroine at the center of one of the hottest PC and console videogames on the market. To date nearly 8 million copies have been sold worldwide, putting it in the same company as the best-selling adventure game, Myst.

Along the way, Lara became an icon as recognizable to gamers as Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. U2 got the game makers at Core Design in England to create custom footage of Lara for the video wall in its current PopMart world tour. Some fans, convinced (or praying) that she's real, have bombarded Core with e-mail requesting info on her boyfriends and favorite pop bands. There are more than 100 Web sites devoted to her glory, ranging from nice, like the well-written Croft Times newsletter (www.cubeit.com/ctimes), to naughty, like Nude Raider, for fans who think Lara's a bit overdressed in her skintight vest and Daisy Duke shorts.

Like Lara, the folks at Core haven't had much time to enjoy their success; plans for a sequel were underway two months before the first game came out. Since then it's been nothing but takeout food and catnaps (on inflatable beds at the company's funky offices in a converted mansion on the outskirts of the northern English town of Derby) for the designers as they scramble to get Tomb Raider 2 in stores by mid-November.

The folks at Core are still a bit surprised at the Tomb Raider phenomenon. "Lara has had an awful lot more media attention than the game itself because people like to lead on the sex angle, the size of her chest and whether she takes her clothes off," says Core managing director Jeremy Smith. Yet he's shocked, shocked, to hear that U.S. parent company Eidos is pushing the pinup angle by listing her measurements as 88-24-84. (Core insists that, in Lara's native England at least, she is a more modest $4D.) "We have never really got hung up on that sort of thing," Smith sniffs. "When people ask what she would be like if you took her clothes off, the team simply says she would be a wire mesh. I am sure a lot of people enjoy ogling her, but she was never designed with the marketing in mind."

J. C. Herz, the author of "Joystick Nation," a book on the history of videogames, isn't buying it. "Female characters are the rage because boys like to look at them. They're the pinup girls of the 21st century." But she thinks it was smart of Eidos to build the game around Lara. "If you can create a great character, what you've got is a franchise. It's like making a blockbuster movie and knowing that before anyone says a word you can make $100 million."

There's so much software on store shelves these days that simply creating a good game isn't enough to break out of the pack. With Lara, Eidos has created a star. "And the character belongs to you," Herz adds. "It doesn't pout in a trailer or ask you for $20 million for its next videogame. You own it. It's like minting money."

It seems obvious now that Tomb Raider would go over big with lads of all ages, but when Core prodigy Toby Gard (who later left to start his own company) created a game around his vision of the perfect woman, he was violating several unspoken rules of 8-D gaming. Unlike with popular first-person-perspective games like Doom and Duke Nukem, players see the action over Lara's shoulder, like a movie. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lara Croft, the Bit Girl: How a Game Star Became a '90S Icon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.