VGT – Tomb Raider, Women in Video Games, and Creation Mythology

The modern Lara Croft

The modern Lara Croft

I’m currently playing the latest Tomb Raider.  It is considered to be a “reboot” of the franchise.  I suppose that it is a reboot in the sense that the game-play has changed since the original games, but it is still the engaging character, Lara Croft.  I still remember seeing the original Tomb-Raider for the first time.

Lara Croft from Tomb Raider 2

Lara Croft from Tomb Raider 2

It was back in 1996 and I had a job that involved travel and working in convention centers.  I remember walking past a booth and someone was demonstrating the game on a Playstation 1.  The game stopped me in my tracks – and not because it was a female character but because the game seemed so large and there seemed to be so much to explore.  When I finally had my own copy of the game, I didn’t mind that the controls were clunky and that the graphics were pixelated.

Almost unplayable by today's standards

Almost unplayable by today’s standards

Let me add here that as I was trying to get some shots from Tomb Raider 2, I could barely move Lara around.  I would jump to a platform and completely miss.

Beautifully rendered graphics

Beautifully rendered graphics

For the reboot that just came out, she is a younger version of Lara Croft.  She is inexperienced and just beginning to emerge as an archaeologist and a person.  The game has a cinematic quality about it.  What amazes me is how seamless the game plays.  If there have been any load times, I’ve barely noticed them.  Now however, I have a special appreciation of the fact that I’m playing a game that tells the story of a woman.  This is one of the rare occurrences in which a woman is not a sexual object in a video game.  Lara gets dirty – even bloody.

Lara discovers fire arrows can be fun!

Lara discovers fire arrows can be fun!

She fights hard and she never gives up.  Her purpose is truly a noble one – she is trying to rescue a friend who has been kidnapped by the game’s villain.  There seems to be a sense of character development as the game progresses.

I recently finished reading through the Bible.  Each time I read through the Scriptures I try to do it in a different way.  The last time I read the ESV version (English Standard Version) and I read each book in the order that they were originally written (to the best of our knowledge).  Now I’m on a new reading plan.  I’ve started reading from Genesis again and this time I’m reading the version from my formative years and perhaps my favorite one – the NIV (New International Version).  I’m reading a special archaeological version that is filled with footnotes and historical information.  So, perhaps like Lara Croft, I’m exploring the historical tombs and depths of the sacred page.

A piece of the Epic of Gilgamesh containing a flood narrative.

A piece of the Epic of Gilgamesh containing a flood narrative. No reference to the creation of woman here.

While reading from Genesis 1 and 2, I discovered an interesting fact.  The Bible is the only Near Eastern ancient text with a full account of the creation of woman.  This includes the Egyptians, the Hittites, the Sumerians – including the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh.

Is God a fan of tomb raiding?  Easter is a season during which many Christians focus on a different tomb – an empty one.  There have been many theories as to why that tomb was empty one Sunday morning over two thousand years ago.  Christians believe that a miraculous resurrection occurred.  I find it interesting that the first person Jesus appeared to was a woman, Mary Magdalene.  According to John 20, Peter and John were confused by the empty tomb and returned to their homes.  But Mary stayed at the tomb and wept.  Imagine her surprise when the gardener approached her and asked her why she was crying – only to discover that it was Jesus himself.  Talk about a good surprise.  She is the first person to tell the disciples – and the world – the good news, “I have seen the Lord!”  Have a great Easter weekend!

Rembrandts depiction of Mary and the risen Christ.  He painted Jesus holding a spade since she thought he was the gardener.

From Wikipedia – Rembrandts depiction of Mary and the risen Christ. He painted Jesus holding a spade since she thought he was the gardener.

Three Weekends – Three Different Experiences

This is a post devoid of video games but full of life!  I’ve spent the past few weeks travelling.  Each weekend trip had a different destination and a purpose.

Recreation of some Norman Rockwell (in progress)

Recreation of some Norman Rockwell (in progress)

Trip 1 – Savannah, GA:  As I mentioned in a previous post, I drove down to Savannah, GA to visit my son at SCAD.  As I was driving down, I tried to remember what I had appreciated the most from a visit while I was in college over twenty years ago.  At the time, I appreciated food and I appreciated getting away from the campus, so I resolved in my mind to focus on those two things – and of course to listen to my son as we spent time together to find out what his needs might be.

Drawing of Random Items on a Table

Drawing of Random Items on a Table

As expected, he was pretty eager to get away from his cramped dorm room so we went to the local Super Target to stock up on any needed supplies.  We bought some cereal, milk, and some snacks.  Apparently, Hot Pockets are also a necessary element of college survival.  His choice for lunch was the local Mellow Mushroom, and he seemed genuinely thrilled to be taking some of the leftovers back to his room.  He has been doing so well in college.

Imaginary Creature from his Color Theory class

Imaginary Creature from his Color Theory class

He has made the Dean’s List and is growing so much as an artist and as a person.  Truly, his art just gets better and better.  We spent the evening watching the movie A Good Day to Die Hard at the movie theater.  Going to movies and reviewing the movies afterward is one of our favorite things to do (other than video games!)   We even made a spontaneous recording called, The Drive Home, in which we reviewed the movie during the drive home – while the movie was fresh on our minds.  Click on the link for the audio.  (Warning: contains spoilers).  It was a lot of fun for both of us.

The Drive Home-A Good Day to Die Hard (Spoilers)

Trip 2 – Snowshoe, WV:  During the month of February, I sometimes travel to Snowshoe Ski Resort  along with my two older brothers and some friends of my middle brother, Craig.  I think that once upon a time, this was a “guys gone wild” kind of weekend, but now since most the men are in their forties and fifties it has become more of a “guys hobbling around” experience.  Most of the guys hit the black diamonds, but my oldest brother, Ken, and I stayed on the greens and blues.

A view from the slopes at Snowshoe, WV

A view from the slopes at Snowshoe, WV

In my mind I was comparing the ski experience to my recent December trip to Park City, UT.  I honestly have to say that the skiing is very good at both places but the western ski experience ranks slightly higher.  How wild were our evenings?

I know how to party

I know how to party

We spent an evening playing “Mathmet”  – a customized game based on a Yahtzee-like game called Kismet.  Craig is a math teacher and uses the game to help his students improve their quick-fire addition skills.  We also spent an evening just watching movies together.  We watched The Shawshank Redemption on the AMC channel, and I have to tell you, that the commercials almost killed me.  Especially the way they increase the quantity of them toward the end of the movie.  It is no wonder that the world is going the direction of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, and other forms of video streaming.

Men's Retreat 2013

Men’s Retreat 2013

Trip 3 – Black Mountain, NC:  My third weekend was spent at the “Man to Man” retreat at Ridgecrest Center in Black Mountain.  I traveled with a friend from my men’s group and we were also roommates throughout the weekend.  The facilities there were almost like staying in a hotel with comfortable rooms and a good cafeteria.  There was even a Starbucks located on the campus.  The focus of the weekend was on the overwhelming, generous love of God.  I remember a quote that the speaker talked about.  It was by Catherine of Siena (don’t ask me who she is!) and she said something to the effect of, “You were drunk with love, infatuated with your creature.”  I don’t regularly hear comparisons of God and drunkenness very often so it caught my attention.  But I started to think about how love can affect us – even on a human level we dedicate movies, books, and video games to the subject of love.  It awakens us.  It stimulates us.  It creates a whole new world of thoughts and feelings.  I know that when I became a father, I discovered a sensation a love that I had never known before.  I spent the retreat thinking about God’s love and was especially impacted during a time of solitude and prayer.  I found a hiking trail and just started to follow it.

Ridgecrest in the NC Mountains

Ridgecrest in the NC Mountains

I guess I stopped about halfway up the mountain, looked around at the mountains and valleys, and just said, “Wow, you did a really good job here.”  I’ve walked with Christ for almost thirty years and every day I find something new to amaze me.  It was a great weekend with friends and music.

Each trip was different.  I was a father for the first, a brother for the second, and a friend for the third.  I didn’t realize it, but it was somewhat a trinitarian experience for me.  For all three trips, it felt great to come home.  I am thankful that I have a place where I can feel safe and comfortable.  The shower always feels better than the ones on the road – and the bed is always more comfortable.  The sheets and blankets just feel perfect and there is nothing better than sleep beside someone you love.   Coming home to my wife and my dog is the best part of travel.