With Valentine’s Day about here, I am reminded that Lara Croft was born on February 14th in 1968 according to the first Tomb Raider video game. Since modern-day Square Enix games don’t portray her as that old (the year has since been fudged), there is no way to know exactly how old she is, but we can still wish Lady Lara Croft a Happy Birthday every year on Valentine’s Day.
Although in years past there has been heated debate about the portrayal of females in video games (kicked off by Lara Croft’s curvy avatar), the ageless Lady Lara still remains a feminist icon to scores of women. Let’s face it, Lara Croft made it okay for video gamers to play games using a female character protagonist that was strong and intelligent. Remember, Lara Croft is not just some supporting eye candy on the side, but a tenaciously astute main character. For that, she is admirable. So, for her birthday, I thought I would reminisce about what makes Lara Croft so tough, resilient, and iconic.
First, Lady Lara survived a pretty rough plane crash. Whether you gravitate toward the original Tomb Raider timeline—wherein 21-year-old Lara Croft crashed deep in the Himalayan mountains, was the sole survivor, and had to find her way back to civilization—or the second revisionist history version—with 9-year-old Lara and her mother both surviving the crash, only to then see her mother disappear through a temple portal before having to make her way back to Kathmandu—the experience obviously changed Lara, giving her personality more dimension while showing us how tough she truly is.
Second, Lady Lara Croft never gives up and never surrenders. Whether she is battling a T-Rex to the death or standing up to her old frienemy Werner Von Croy, surrendering is not a part of her nature. And although PETA might have a bone or two to pick with her, backing down from a fight is just not part of her style. Perhaps this tenacity is what makes her so resilient in gamers’ minds and part of why they return to Lara Croft again and again to play the latest greatest Tomb Raider game.
Third, her iconic character is a great avatar to live through. She swims and jumps with ease, and Lara is not about to take any nonsense from those she encounters along the way. (The endearingly arrogant Englishness of her character, however, has been lost in the reboot and will hopefully return as the character ages.) Like Indiana Jones in female form, she is off on the next plane as soon as she hears about some cool artifact, wherever it may be. And like 007, she always thwarts her foe in the end.
So Happy Birthday, Lara Croft … and enjoy the love everyone has for you, especially on Valentine’s Day!