Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics has further commented on the huge controversy surrounding a would-be rape scene in the franchise's forthcoming reboot.
Global brand director Karl Stewart stressed the comments made by executive producer Ron Rosenberg where he mentioned the word "rape" is not in the developer's "vocabulary" or "communication."
As for the scene in question to which the controversy is based on (an island enemy inappropriately stroking Lara), Stewart stated despite the lead character being female, it still cannot be classified as sexual assault.
"He did say it… It’s his personal opinion and certainly… like I said, it’s not something that we communicate."
He goes on to note that the scene is not really rape, more of a "pathological situation" meant to evoke fear and intimidation. Although he admits that the groping wouldn't have happened to a male character such as Nathan Drake, he continues to insist the scene doesn't portray sexual assault.
"We have a female character that we're very proud and very honored to be able to have in our game and build a story around. And by giving her motivation to become the stronger action-adventure hero and the girl that’s willing to fight to stay alive and move forward throughout the game, we use that device and that intimidation to make her stronger. To make her feel empowered and to take her beyond that breaking point where she realises the severity of the situation and she’s willing to fight to stay alive."
When Stewart is pushed into further comments, PR stepped in, interrupting his explanation and stating "nothing sexual occurred" after the uncomfortable scene. Says the PR rep:
"I’m pretty sure Karl answered as well as he can the question- I understand where you’re going with this, I think it’s like, you can see the outcome if this continues, but nothing sexual occurred. Violence occurred as a result of that. I just don’t think you’re going to get any further than what you’re getting out of Karl."
Ultimately, Stewart concluded by somewhat defending Rosenberg's use of the word in question:
"We are not building a game where we’re basically saying ‘Hey… our goal is to have the player protect Lara. That’s your choice in playing the game. How you interpret it is your choice. What Ron is saying… that’s the results from fairly significant amounts of play-testers."
Tomb Raider is due for a release on March 5, 2013. You can read our impressions of the E3 demo here, during which the described scene was showcased to attendees.