I am going to start this series with a surprisingly overlooked female protagonist.
Lara Croft is the star of “Tomb Raider”. She is probably one of, if not the, strongest female in video gaming. (yes I know the picture is of the movie adaptation, but what can I say, Angelina Jolie brings out my lesbian.) My love for the Tomb Raider series started in 1997 after I received a PlayStation for Christmas. A hot chick that can kill things, and is athletic enough to climb any wall? I’m for it!
I always looked at Lara as someone I wanted to aspire to. I would consider myself more of a loner in school. I had friends, but being a military brat makes it hard to actually keep long term friendships. Even after my family had retired from military life, my favorite thing to do was play video games, which was more of a solo activity back in the day. Lara’s independence really drew me to her character. She was never afraid to go in and get the job done, or stand up to her (male) peers and always come out on top. She was the tom-boy embodiment that I had been searching for so long! She was originally supposed to be a man; talk about female empowerment!
Lara Croft is a prime example of a strong female character that seems to get dismissed in the discussion of sexism. There were many concerns about Lara being too sexual. Who says a woman can’t be powerful, independent, and super sexy? i don’t see her looks as a crutch at all. In fact, as a girl who is typecast based on her favorite hobbies, I believe this adds to her character. Being attractive doesn’t mean that you have nothing else to offer. This is a concept that I believe plagues our society and is part of the reason that we have a view of sexism in any type of media. In fact, I believe that Lara was the beginning of a break through in video gaming where women where looked at differently than a Princess Peach, or Zelda. Yes there were other strong female characters (Metriod’s Samus Aran for one, which I will get to in another post,) but Lara’s persona has held on to the gaming industry and developed over time. As society modernized, so did she. To say she is not part of the discussion, or just to be overlooked as an example that there are strong female characters that don’t have any motivation that has to do with a man is doing a gross disservice to the gaming industry as a whole.
If you haven’t played the new Tomb Raider published by Square Enix, please do. It is a new level of Lara that has never been explored before and you can see her emotional progression into the person she has been since the first game of the series came out.
What were your experiences with Lara Croft? Has she inspired you or influenced you in any way? I look forward to reading your thoughts and experiences!
Now, before you’re completely turned off because *insert prejudice against Rinoa here*, just hear me out. I know a lot of people didn’t like Rinoa, or Final Fantasy VIII for that matter, but I will tell you exactly why I have no idea… why. Ever since the opening scene of Final Fantasy VIII, I was in love. I remember getting home from the store, running into my bedroom with my sister, turning it on, and just being in sheer awe. I don’t know how many times mom called us to dinner. We couldn’t stop watching. “Hold on mom I have to save it!” I think this was my childhood catchphrase when Playstation came into the picture.
As I played through the game, I related to Rinoa more and more. From the first time I saw her until the end of the game, she spoke to me. She was my video game counterpart. My soul mate, if you will. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that one character that could have been you. More than any other character you ever encountered? Maybe it’s Lara, Quistis, Celeste, or Princess Peach. Whoever it happens to be, you understand what I’m trying to say. If not, I will do my best to explain.
When I think of Rinoa, I think of persistence, free spirit, optimism. Her introduction was perfect. Walking up to Squall, telling him he will like her, dragging him onto the dance floor, and in record time, teaching him how to dance (I kid). This was the part of her that she wanted people to see, confidence.
We meet her again in the town of Timber. She is the princess of the resistance against the Galbadian army, and you find out her goal at the dance was to get to the headmaster. She wanted to hire SeeD forces to help liberate Timber. In her naive optimistic view, all they needed were some mercenaries to follow out their plans, and the rest would fall into place. Her narrow view of how the world works, and her passion to save it, are only the surface of her, and stem greatly from her military brat upbringing and rebellion against her father. In changing her last name, moving away, and offering no connection to the Galbadian Army until absolutely necessary, she shows her feelings for her father in a very realistic way. Having come from a military family myself, this drew me to her.
My father was, and still is, your typical retired military man. As a teenager, he would protect me from the dangers of the world the only way he really knew how, by not letting me in it. It wasn’t until college when I had moved out of the house, that I was truly able to become my own person and find out who I truly am. Looking back I realize now that he was only doing what every parent does the best they know how: Protect their child, however his tactics and methods were firmly rooted in his military upbringing. Even in the face of danger, her passion for her friends, what she believes is “right”, and her defiance against her father, fuel her to try and help them defeat the sorceress (how she doesn’t run into Quistis’ team is beyond me).
In her quest to help, she comes to a very scary realization. She is not as strong as she believes herself to be. When she was attacked alone, she didn’t have the confidence to handle what was being thrown at her. This may seem weak to some people, but I saw this as a very real side of anybody, and a lesson to be learned about people. She gave off a sense of confidence, because with others around her, she was confident. When left alone to her own devices, she didn’t have another person to be confident with, therefore, the confidence was not there. Many times in life, we are most ourselves when we are alone. The person we show to people is the outside layer that we would like to be, or how we would like to be seen. This being true of Rinoa, she seemed to believe this to be true of Squall as well.
Even when faced with a cold and unemotional Squall, knowing her own feelings for the world, she refuses to believe someone can be this person that he puts off. Squall has an amazing ability to keep people at a distance, and guard his emotions. Coming from an orphanage, this must have been common practice his whole life. The people he relied on as a child are no longer available to him as a young adult, and he sees this as a sign that everyone will eventually be left alone. Refusing to believe that is all Squall has to offer, Rinoa does her best to break through his barrier, finally succeeding when he realizes he may never hear her again. Things that he found annoying, he missed, and in true Squall style, decides that he, alone, can save her… maybe.
Even though her absorption of sorceress powers was an accident, she embraces it with dignity, volunteering to be cast away in fear that Ultimecia may strike again. Knowing this will forever keep her alone, she looks to Squall, who initially accepts her decision, but then chooses to save her, vowing to forever be her Knight. In the end, as he is overwhelmed by the time compression, she is the one that finds him. She doesn’t think of a time period, or a place to return to. She thinks of him. As they have grown individually, and together, throughout their journey, as long as they have each other that is all that matters.
Rinoa, to me, has always been an inspiration to face your fears head on, but hope for the best outcome. There is always another side to the story, and things always will work out in the end. Be confident in yourself, no matter what, and do not be afraid to look for help if you need it. These are the things she has taught me.
Whether you love her or hate her (or somewhere inbetween) let’s open the discussion! What did you think about Final Fantasy VII, or Rinoa specifically? Has she inspired you in any way? Good or bad? Who is your video game soul mate? Is there a character that has spoken to you?
That one word sums up one of the best series from the Playstation: Crash Bandicoot. Released in 1996 by Naughty Dog, Crash Bandicoot changed the foundations of Action platformers and was one of the highest selling games that year. It was about Crash, who started out as a normal Bandicoot, until Dr. Neo Cortex took him and was genetically enhanced to help him take over the planet. However, Crash was too carefree to be able to lead an army, so Cortex tossed him from his fortress, and decides to use Crash’s girlfriend, Tawna for his experiment. With time running out, it’s up to Crash to get through Cortex’s three islands, stop him from taking over the world and save his girl. But I’m not here to talk about Crash, even though he’s the star, and deservedly so, I’m here to talk about his little sister, Coco.
From her introduction in CB2 and on, she was a kindhearted genius who loved her computer and helped out Crash when he was in trouble. However, after Crash Team Racing [the fourth game in the series], Naughty Dog gave the rights of the series to ”Radical Entertainment”, who decided “You know what Coco is missing? She needs a bratty attitude and have her make generally useless inventions! Oh, Oh, and, lets use her as a damsel in distress!” *sigh* You were so awesome in the beginning, Coco, and Naughty Dog won’t be able to come to the rescue. Well, with that disappointing thought in mind, I figured to do an article on why I thought she rocked in CB2 and CB: Warped.
Coco first appeared in “Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back” and was established as Crash’s little sister. What happened to Tawna? Your guess is as good as mine. Anyways, in the first few seconds we see her, we quickly learn her characteristics: She’s intelligent, loves her laptop and is more level headed then Crash. On his way to get her a new battery when her Laptop one dies, Crash gets caught by Cortex, who proclaims that he actually needs Crash to help him collect Crystals. It seems that the world is going to be destroyed by a force that will be generated when all the planets align, so he created the Cortex Vortex to protect it. However, it needs Crystals to work, which is where Crash comes in. While he is a good guy, Crash isn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the room, so he goes with it without hesitation. Luckily, Coco doesn’t believe a word Cortex says, and hacks into his computer to try and figure out what his true motives are, which we find out late in the game….
[Skip video to 3:12:45 if it doesn’t jump on it’s own.]
With that knowledge, Crash goes and takes out the vile Doctor. See? Without his sis, Crash would have unknowingly doomed us all to worshiping Cortex. This was a nice introduction for her, and she was a valuable asset to the storytelling, but it’s in “Crash Bandicoot: Warped”, where she truly comes into her own.
As per our usual routine, B decided to take a nap.
Usually when B decides to take a nap, I get excited. That is at least one hour of uninterrupted game play! This is when I sit in my chair, latch on my baby, and get ready for Titan spamming. Since I started thinking hardcore about my Rinoa post for My Female Gaming Role Models, I thought, I’m just going to play VIII again. We’re talking put my PS disc in my PS3.
So here I am, sitting in my chair. Check. Baby latched on. Check. Alright here we go.
About half way through nap time, I get a dreadful thought, as the parade for the sorceress comes to a close.
I’m going to have to change discs.
I’m trying to make the battle draw on, (heehee get it. DRAW. ok i’m done), but eventually Edea slings her silver tongued insult at me and the ice is flying.
I save my game. Slowly.
That oh so familiar screen comes onto the television. “Please insert Disk 2”. I look down at B, still all snuggly and asleep, and then at my playstation, on the other side of the room.
I’ll just move him a little, and then…. He begins to stir, and settles back into a less convenient position.