Friday, August 29, 2014

My Game Protagonist

Yeah, I've been playing a lot of Tomb Raider. The 2013 "Innocent Lara" is problematic in some ways, but outside of her behavior in a few cut scenes I've been able to mesh with the avatar.

Games -- more so, I think, than television or movies -- are often approached with a level of appropriation. One plays (or watches) while constructing a head canon of one's own. It isn't always possible; sometimes the disjunct between one's own understanding of the world, the logic and the emotional logic of the story, can't be reconciled with the nonsense being shown.

And some time I'd like to unpack more what the 2013 reboot does with gender roles, race, violence, and how its treatment of these areas meshes (or fails to mesh) with the story.

But not at the moment.

The protagonist I'm thinking of at the moment starts as your typical reluctant hero. She had an idea, what was to be an academic investigation of limited scale. She got much more support and interest than she expected, but instead of bailing, she stepped up to the plate to do the work necessary for this much extended scope.

And faced the usual obstacles of a hero's journey. A veritable storm of harassment and threats. It seems at times a whole little world is being thrown into turmoil as she continues to work. And yet she doesn't lessen her standards or let the opposition harden her. She continues in the best tradition of the reluctant hero to question herself, to critically look at every step in her process, to meticulously document and to make sure that she is doing the right thing.

And thank you, Anita Sarkeesian, for doing this. It shouldn't take a hero just to start the project of building a proper critical groundwork so we can get to really improving games. But it does, and thank you for being strong enough -- externally and internally -- to do it.

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