Tomb Raider Wanderlust Interview
December 2016 saw the launch of a free digital magazine, Tomb Raider Wanderlust, by the creators of the Kronika Tomb Raider fansite. The first edition, titled "In the Shadow of an Icon," was originally released in Czech, but an English language version is now available. My Q&A style interview is just one of many, including chats with TR developers, composers, artists, and other fans.
Visit Tomb Raider Wanderlust for more info and links to both the Czech and English magazines.
There's also a blog with updates about current and future issues at tombraiderwanderlust.cz.
Staying In Podcast
Also in December 2016, I had the great pleasure of chatting with Kris Darby (@digitalstrider) and Sam Turner (@MrSamTurner) on an episode of their Staying In Podcast. Topics included good (and bad) chicken-rearing techniques, marathons (both real and virtual), and of course Tomb Raider. These guys are some of the smartest, most articulate, and most fun gamers I know. I hope you'll check out their show.
Listen using the player below or follow this link to download an MP3, or listen via the Podbean app, iTunes, Stitcher, etc.
Solid Gold Games Podcast
In February 2016, the awesome Jamie Sparks invited me to be the first guest on his new podcast. The result is this fun conversation about a few of my favorite things, including Tomb Raider, social media, and Extra Life. The Solid Gold Games Podcast is available on thejamiesparks.com, Soundcloud, and iTunes.
Jamie also has a blog in which he discusses all sorts of things from gaming to music to life's ups and downs. Check out this post on Why Lara Croft Should be Your Girlfriend. Some of his reasons may surprise you.
Archaeology of Tomb Raider Q&A
The Archaeology of Tomb Raider runs a great recurring feature called "In the Spotlight," in which TR fans of all kinds share their experiences and opinions about the series. I'm honored to be included in such a great bunch of gamers.
So, tell us a little about yourself.
I live in upstate New York, about 100 miles north of New York City. I'm in my 40's and married, with a soon-to-be 21-year-old son. I run several walkthrough sites. You may be familiar with Stella's Tomb Raider site, though I also have guides for LEGO Indiana Jones and Space Colony. I'm addicted to social media in its myriad forms, and I struggle against my couch-potato nature every blessed day.
When and how did you learn about the Tomb Raider series?
If you follow my site, you've probably heard this story before. Shortly after the original game was released, a friend of my husband's gave him a copy....
A couple of years ago, before the most recent Tomb Raider game was released, I had the pleasure of listening to InRaiderSpect, a series of podcasts from the creators of InRetroSpect examining the Tomb Raider series from different angles. The episode that especially resonated for me was "Turning Points," created by Dr. Kris Darby. Inspired by the game trailer of the same name, this episode examined Tomb Raider through the lens of psychogeography and grappled with a question that is at the root of the series: to turn back or carry on?
Since then, we've all had a chance to play the new Tomb Raider reboot, and the Definitive Edition has just been released for next-gen consoles. To wrap up the InRaiderSpect series, Kris invited me to appear as a guest on the InRaiderSpect Epilogue. We spent about 45 minutes talking about the new game, Tomb Raider's roots, and its possible future. I hope you'll have a listen.
The entire InRaiderSpect series can be found on the InRetroSpect Podcast site or downloaded through iTunes.
There are also a few post-production notes and corrections on my blog.
I hope you'll let us know how you liked the show. If you agree or disagree with our opinions or have other ideas you'd like to add, I encourage you to post a comment below or on the InRaiderSpect Epilogue page. Thanks for listening!
TR2 Dagger of Xian Replica Prop Tutorial
I created this dagger as both a cosplay prop and an entry in Crystal Dynamics' "By Hand" contest, which was held on the Eidos forum in 2012. The dagger itself now belongs to our former community manager, Meagan Marie, but if you want to try making your own, you'll find my step-by-step tutorial on laracroftcosplay.com.
By the way, in case anyone is still puzzling over the pronunciation of "Xian," it's "shee-an ". You can hear it spoken here and here.
Q&A for Matt's Tomb Raider Blog
The following appeared on Matt's Tomb Raider Blog in August 2011. Matt's blog is no longer online but he's given me permission to share this here.
There's a particular website that most Tomb Raider fans are familiar with. They seek it out when things seem impossible, they turn to it for a little hand holding if they're uncertain, and in some cases have even been known to head over there just to prove a point.
Yes, I'm talking about Stella's Tomb Raider Site.
It would have to be the most informative Tomb Raider fan site online, without a doubt. Where else can you find out how to get 4 out of a possible 3 secrets in Coastal Village? But you have to ask yourself, how long has it really been around? What started it all? and what is the story with that UFO in Tomb Raider 3? I emailed Stella to find out more.
Matt: What sparked the creation of "Stella's Tomb Raider Site" and when? The Way Back Machine tells us it's been there for at least 12 years now.
Stella: It's a bit of a funny story really. I first discovered the original Tomb Raider a few months after it came out. My husband got a copy from a friend who'd just finished playing it. He got stuck at the timed run across the fire pillars in the Palace Midas level. You should have heard him cursing and slamming on the keyboard. Eventually he got so frustrated he literally threw the game in the garbage. The next day I pulled it out and decided to give it a go. I had no clue what to do, so I went back to the beginning, played around in Croft Manor for a while, and then started the game from the beginning. The rest, as they say, is history.
Q&A for a Student Paper
In November 2011, Kristopher S., a fellow gamer, asked me to share my opinions on Lara and the Tomb Raider series for a class project. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of the final paper, but I thought other fans might be interested in our conversation.
Subject: A Couple Questions From a Fan
Message: Hey there. I've been a huge fan of the series for years and you've helped me through numerous (okay countless) challenges. I'm writing a paper on the sexual exploitation of female characters in video games. And I figured it would be good to reference Lara based off of some of the early depictions. I wanted to use you as a source since you are a prominent figure in the Tomb Raider community as well as a female gamer. I have a lot of respect for you and your opinions are of great value. Thank you!
Reply: Hi, Kris. That's a great topic for a paper and one that's near and dear to my heart. I'd be happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability. If you need clarification or questions breed questions, feel free to follow up. I'll just copy your questions here and answer below. I hope that's OK.
Were you ever bothered by Lara's image? Particularly the early years with her over the top dimensions.
Definitely. But I think it's important to distinguish between Lara's in-game characterization and her depiction in the advertising for the games. You've probably heard the legendary anecdote about how character designer Toby Gard's slip of the mouse accidentally enlarged Lara's breasts in an early version of the first game. It was never his intention to portray Lara as a bombshell, but the marketing people seized on that idea and ran with it. [Links to Wikipedia and IGN articles.]
Lara's character in the game is depicted as strong, resourceful and witty, even sarcastic, but rarely uses her sexuality to gain an advantage. There are a few exceptions—like the portrayal of the simpering young Lara in TR: The Last Revelation—but for the most part Lara lives for adventure and does her job without using her looks or her sexuality to manipulate others. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the games' marketing departments.
Q&A for JBTRFreak's Tomb Raider Site
Back in the fall of 2011, I did the following Q&A with John from JBTRFreak's Tomb Raider Site. Sadly, his site is no longer online.
What is it about Tomb Raider that first appealed to you? And how long have you been playing Tomb Raider?
I've been playing since early 1997, shortly after the first Tomb Raider came out. My first impression, which I formed while watching over my husband's shoulder, was that the environments seemed very realistic and cool—at least compared to other 3D games of the day like Quake, Duke Nukem, etc.—and, hey, that's a GIRL!!!
Do you remember your initial thoughts when you were playing the game for the first time?
It's been a while so I don't remember exactly what went through my head, but I definitely recall being frustrated at times and elated at others. I'd mostly played RPGs and point-and-click adventure games up to that point, so the controls that seem second-nature today were a bit of a challenge for me at first. I definitely recall poor Lara's scream followed by that hideous thump-crunch when she lands after a long fall...a sound I heard way too often in those days. ;)
Q&A for Globetrotter
In June 2012, I talked Tomb Raider with CJ Marion from the Globetrotter fan site.
How and when did you get into Tomb Raider?
It's kind of silly actually, but I rescued my first Tomb Raider game from a wastepaper bin, if you can believe it! My husband got a copy from a friend who'd just finished playing it. That was around January or February of 1997. He got stuck at the timed run across the fire pillars in the Palace Midas level and got so frustrated that he literally threw the game in the garbage. The next day I pulled it out and decided to give it a try. I wasn't about to start from that part, though. So I went back to the beginning. Midway through the first level I was hooked, and I've played every Tomb Raider game I could get my hands on since.
If you invented Tomb Raider, how would you feel?
First, I'd be extremely proud. It's a wonderful series with so many gorgeous, exciting settings and wild storylines. I'd probably also feel a bit weary—as I imagine Toby Gard does sometimes—what with people constantly bringing it up. He's tried to move on and do other things, but of course people just won't let up about Lara. ;)