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'A world wounded by colonialism': 'Tomb Raider' board game condemns its own 30-year-old storyline as 'colonialist'
Image via @Grummz/ X (screenshot) / Evil Hat Productions

'A world wounded by colonialism': Tomb Raider board game condemns its own 30-year-old storyline as 'colonialist'

A tabletop board game based on the video game and movie franchise "Tomb Raider" reportedly condemned its own plot for out-of-date themes, which it characterized as "colonialist."

The story of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider began in 1994 and, as its name suggests, focuses on a female relic hunter who raids tombs and hunts treasure across the world.

The popular franchise has enjoyed enormous success in video games and film iterations, so much so that Evil Hat Productions saw fit to bring the story to life in board-game format in February 2024.

The game, Tomb Raider: Truth of Shadows, says that players will "face perilous challenges and tough choices" as they learn what it takes to be a hero.

Nowhere in the official synopsis, however, does it include the game's alleged self-deprecating stance on the entire basis of its plotline. That commentary was reportedly saved for the game's instruction manual, which fans of the franchise quickly learned about when opening their new board game.

According to Tomb Raider Forums and Tomb Raider Chronicles, websites that deal specifically with fans and Tomb Raider content, Evil Hat Productions has called its own product a work of colonialism.

An alleged 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."

Aside from the strange and obvious statement declaring theft as immoral, this was not the only alleged cultural argument from the company.

"Later games released in the franchise have started the work of addressing this by having Lara Croft acknowledge her past mistakes and try to understand and show respect for the cultures and communities she comes into contact with," the manual reportedly read.

It also allegedly noted that the treasure hunter knows better than to decorate her mantle with the stolen artifacts and now prefers to prioritize "seeking out the truth."

"Much of this game is inspired by her humanity, struggle with heroism, and her tenacity. We believe that all three aspects are an important component in creating a game that celebrates history and culture while acknowledging the respect and work required to live in a world wounded by colonialism," the quote continued.

"In this game, we seek to continue in that work alongside Crystal Dynamics by creating a sandbox for you to tell stories that address colonialist themes in play and create your own stories of respect and support for the people and cultures your Seekers encounter."

Crystal Dynamics, of course, refers to the team that is currently developing Tomb Raider games.

If the reports are accurate, this would not be the first time Evil Hat Productions has brought its own product in front of a theoretical human rights tribunal.

For its 2020 game "Fate of Cthulhu," the creators saw fit to condemn the original author of the source material used for the game.

While using his mythos, Evil Hat Productions found time to denounce American writer H.P. Lovecraft as a bigot.

Following a brief trigger warning about "systemic abuses of power," the company simply wrote, "Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a racist and an anti-Semite," in bold letters.

However, the company's use of his works was later justified by citing the writer's own quote and stating that "writers of color" have turned his work into their own stories.

"We hope you use [the stories] for inspiration as much as you use Lovecraft's original works."

"The main tool for progressive ideology in gaming (according to Sweet Baby Inc.-style consulting groups) is to 'flip,'" celebrated game developer Mark Kern told Blaze News.

"Their guidelines suggest flipping everything: gender, storylines, main characters. This is deemed to increase inclusion and accessibility of the material to a modern audience. It is actually the Marxist strategy of erasing the past in order to build a new future in their image," Kern continued.

"The goal is not to include everyone, it is to exclude their political opponents. This is a repeated behavior in games to subvert, erase, and destroy. This is why they had to change 'Tomb Raider.'"

The franchise has faced publicity hurdles in 2024, which began with a release of a remaster of its original video games.

In them, the titles received an in-game content warning for "offensive depictions" and "racial" prejudices but were not censored.

Evil Hat Productions has yet to respond to questions regarding the instruction manual and its position on the subject matter. This article will be updated with any applicable 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.
@andrewsaystv →