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Tomb Raider studio censors its own game months after release, despite saying it would present content in 'original form'
Image via @Scratch_Point_Z / X / via Crystal Dynamics

Tomb Raider studio censors its own game months after release, despite saying it would present content in 'original form'

An update for video game Tomb Raider III: The Lost Artefact removed polygonal photos of its main character Lara Croft, lying in provocative poses, from the background of one of its environments.

Developer Crystal Dynamics is behind the latest update, which came more than two months after the release of Tomb Raider I-III Remastered, which came out on February 14, 2024.

Update: It has since been revealed Aspyr Media Inc. was responsible for the removal of the images.

The apparently too-risqué pinups are reportedly based on promotional renders made for the original Tomb Raider III, and were found on the fourth level called "Sleeping with the Fishes" above a scuba diving gear locker, Bounding into Comics reported.

The first photo shows the lead character wearing her default outfit lying on a velvet background, while the second shows her covered by a bedsheet; neither shows any animated nudity of any kind.

In fact, the original game's graphics make the images barely discernable, but it is only the remastered version where the animated posters, signed by the fictional character herself, are clear.

Reports at the time of this writing stated that there was no mention of the removal in the update's patch notes, despite the company having already made a disclaimer that said it wouldn't remove content from the game.

When the game launched, fans pointed out that it booted up with a content warning about "prejudices."

"The games in this collection contain offensive depictions of people and cultures rooted in racial and ethnic prejudices. These stereotypes are deeply harmful, inexcusable, and do not align with our values at Crystal Dynamics," a prompt in the game read.

"Rather than removing this content, we have chosen to present it here in its original form, unaltered, in the hopes that we may acknowledge its harmful impact and learn from it," the warning concluded.

Gamers theorized that the content warning was implemented due to characters called a "tribesman," also from the third game. The characters were purported to be from Polynesia, "shoot poison darts from blowguns," and killed and ate explorers on multiple occasions.

Celebrated game designer Mark Kern told Blaze News that the biggest concern regarding these changes is the ongoing "impermanence of digital media and the willingness of companies to censor, edit, or even remove entire games after purchase."

"Consumers deserve better protections, as our reality is edited in real time. Today it was a patch of some pinup posters, but tomorrow it will be much more. It's important to be aware of what is happening and the power we've given up to corporations to mess with things we've already paid for," he added.

The update is just days removed from stories about a Tomb Raider board game chastising its own fans and product by claiming the Lara Croft character is a result of "a world wounded by colonialism."

An excerpt from the game's manual gave a definition of the term "raiding" and then condemned it as operating on "the assumption of 'finders keepers' that grants raiders with the means and the drive to claim ownership of artefacts, regardless of whether they have any historical or cultural claim to the treasure."

Board game creator Evil Hat Productions said that it was working with Crystal Dynamics to "address colonialist themes" while creating games that "respect and support" other people and cultures.

Evil Hat Productions did not respond to inquiries about the board game's manual. Crystal Dynamics was asked about the board game, as well as the decision to remove the posters from the video game.

This article will be updated with any relevant responses.

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Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados is a writer focusing on sports, culture, entertainment, gaming, and U.S. politics. The podcaster and former radio-broadcaster also served in the Canadian Armed Forces, which he confirms actually does exist.
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