Somethings are still taboo for mainstream videogames, such as rape hairy male testicles.
In the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, scavengers will kidnap Lara Croft's best friend, chase after Lara, and "try to rape her," according to Executive Producer Ron Rosenberg.
"She is literally turned into a cornered animal," Rosenberg said. "It's a huge step in her evolution: she's forced to either fight back or die."
I think there is something brave in attempting this in the game's narrative, but Rosenberg stating this in an interview is, well, short-sighted. Is this really something you want to advertise, instead of shock players after they purchased? The entire interview reads like a "we're so edgy; we are going to shock the pants off you" campaign.
Here's another questionable quote: "When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character."
If the suggestion is that weak, vulnerable characters drive empathy in players: sure. However, if the suggestion is that Lara is weak and vulnerable precisely because she is a woman: No!
Considering that film and TV very rarely treat this subject matter with respect and honesty, I have my doubts that videogames are ready to depict rape (or even suggest it). In fact, I believe The Sopranos, The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, and Irreversible are the only ones that pulled it off -- as in, I felt violated as a viewer and sick to my stomach after watching the act.
Now, I can't see any of these filmmakers saying in interviews, "We're going to have rape in this film and it's going to change the way you see the character. It's really important, visceral stuff!" or something of that nature.
After the controversial Hitman: Absolution nun-punching video, this PR nightmare of an interview is the last thing SquareEnix needs. I don't want to say rape is a subject that should never be broached in gaming, but the above quotes don't give me confidence that Tomb Raider is going to be the game that changes my mind on the matter.
Dtoid's Holly Green will have her own interview with Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics going up later this week. Perhaps that will shed some light on this subject. Stay tuned ... and please, keep it clean in the comments below folks.
[And, for the final time, stop asking Holmes how his raping with Jim Sterling went. That type of info is a secret kept between a Nintendo fan and his rapist.]