I struggle with depression and anxiety daily. Lately, it’s been worse than ever. I try to immerse myself in the games to keep my mind off things. I try to tell myself that I need to hold on because that’s what Lara would do.
I look back throughout my life and I can’t remember a moment without Lara. My Dad brought home a Playstation when I was 3. I remember seeing a girl on TV and asking who she was, and saying she was pretty.
That was when I became hooked.
As a small child, she helped me through school and my mother’s alcoholism. She helped me through my parent’s breakup. My Grandfather’s cancer and death. She made me want to live, to learn, to better myself.
Not long before my Grandad passed away, he bought me the Tomb Raider magazine that only ran a short time in UK. I think I still have the poster somewhere, covered in love heart stickers. He encouraged my love for Lara because he knew she was a positive influence, something I desperately needed in my life.
When I started self harming at age 11, I’d beat myself up afterwards, because Lara wouldn’t have done that. Again, I turned to the games instead of hurting myself.
As I got older and saw different psychiatrists, and was put on various antidepressants, one psychiatric nurse told me that living through Lara and “being her” to be confident was a good idea, but to maybe let her go when I could cope on my own. Obviously, I never took the latter part of her advice.
Lara helped me through the bullying I faced as a teenager. Through more fights with my mother. Eventually my mother and I bonded because of Lara when she started helping me with costumes.
I’ve made some of my dearest friends because of Lara, back in the day on various forums. I’ve travelled to meet two of them.
I have her name tattooed on me to remind me to be strong.
Even now, when I feel like everything is going wrong, when I think about suicide daily, I look to Lara for inspiration, for strength.
Never underestimate the impact a game can have on someone’s life. In my case, if it weren’t for a game, I wouldn’t be here.
I was thinking about videogames and representation earlier. I can literally remember when Pokemon Ruby was released where I lived (crystal never got popular so this was the first time that you could be a girl character) and all the guys were getting upset over the fact that there was a girl character.
You didn’t need to play female, you could be a male character. You wouldn’t even have to think about it after the iconic “Are you a boy or a girl?” question. But it pissed them off endlessly, and I never understood why. I loved it, I no longer had to pretend that the male character was just a tomboy.
When people realised that you could have LGB Sims, all my friends were grossed out. “Why would you want that? That’s just annoying.” Since then, every videogame that’s allowed same sex relationships has had people commenting “why would you want that? that’s just pandering” and I come back to the same point.
You don’t have to play the game that way if you don’t want to.
Nobody forced dudebros to play female in Pokemon, nobody’s forcing you to make a gay FemShep, nobody’s telling you you have to use these options. They are options. I can only think of one game I’ve played where the character you played as had to be gay, and that was Ellie in the Last of Us in a DLC. There are more games obviously where you have to play female (Tomb Raider classically) but it’s pretty easy to avoid them. I take player genders and sexualities into account to a small degree when buying games and I’m still nowhere near a 50-50 split in gender, despite deliberately choosing games where I can be female. I own 1 PC game where you can’t play male. I own at least 30 where you can’t play female. I have 0 games where you have to be gay.
My point is, if female characters and LGBT characters bother you for some reason, you don’t have to use those particular mechanics. And if you have to in a game, then just don’t fucking play that game.
Or do what I’ve done in the last 18 years: suck it up and deal with it.