The first thing you’ll notice about the new book by Megan Marie, 20 Years of Tomb Raider: Digging Up the Past, Defining the Future, is that it weighs as much as a middle schooler. This hardcover volume is of impressive size and it needs to be in order to keep all of this information inside. It surprised me to realize that Tomb Raider is a 20-year-old franchise, but upon reading the book, I’m amazed it’s not older, considering the iterations and mediums that this franchise crosses. Yes, these past two decades have found Laura Croft in many different games, movies, stories, and conventions; they are all examined here.
Meet the Author
Lara Croft has been with us a long time. In fact, the author of this book was only 12 when Croft hit the scene. Much like other girls her age, Megan Marie decided that she wanted to grow up to be Lara Croft. Once she realized that she couldn’t be a fictional character – and, perhaps, that being an actual archaeologist doesn’t involve slinging guns and sneaking around traps – Marie decided to grow up to work on Tomb Raider games. Now as Senior Community Manager of Crystal Dynamics, she gets to manage the Tomb Raider brand and, with this book, give that brand the spot in the history that it deserves.
While Samus Aran pre-dates Lara Croft by a good decade, she wasn’t the feminine icon that Croft became, partially because gamers were made to believe that she was male throughout the first Metroid game. But Croft was clearly female from the start, bucking the trend of “damsel in distress” that clouds women in video games. As Marie says in her book, “Representation matters,” and no video game series offers female representation in the clearcut way that Tomb Raider does. While the series offers much innovation in the way of artwork and gameplay – and all of that is detailed extensively here – it is perhaps the striking impression that Lara Croft makes that is Tomb Raider’s greatest legacy.
Digging Up the Past, Defining the Future
This book covers everything. From artwork to stories to fan fiction to cosplay, there isn’t an avenue of Tomb Raider left unexplored in this volume. With her unique access to Crystal Dynamics’ and Eidos’ archives and personnel, Marie is able to make this history come to life in an utterly impressive way. We get a chance to look at the early development of this character through the eyes of creators and early sketches. Then we get walked through episode after episode of evolution, as Croft moves through games, films, and much more. Marie’s book is extensive, but never dull. 20 Years of Tomb Raider should be required reading for anyone who is a fan of the video game industry, but more importantly, for anyone considering entering the video game industry.
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