9. The New Lara Phenomenon

This week, Janine Engelbrecht talks about the new version of Lara Croft that appeared in video games and film after the series reboot in 2013, and how she is a more progressive representation of female video game characters than the old version of Lara.

The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
9. The New Lara Phenomenon


h2>What’s in Episode 9, “The New Lara Phenomenon”?

Welcome back

Janine announces that she is officially on the Holosuite Media site and encourages listeners to subscribe to her YouTube channel.


A brief overview of the contents of this episode is given and Janine explains her main argument for this episode. She also mentions where Lara Croft might appear in future episodes.

Lara’s makeover

Janine starts off the discussion by listing the Tomb Raider games and movies that feature the rebooted version of Lara Croft. She also fangirls over Alicia Vikander and her insane exercising routine for the Tomb Raider movie released in 2018.

New Lara in academia

Janine lists the academic articles on rebooted Lara currently available. They are an article by Hye-Won Han and Se-jin Song, and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. She then moves on to explaining the main arguments made by each of these authors.

In this discussion Janine also elaborates on the attainability of the old and new versions of Lara Croft.

Rhianna Pratchett

Janine elaborates on the significance of Rhianna Pratchett’s involvement as head writer for the reboot game in 2013. She explains how she agrees with the arguments Esther MacCallum-Stewart made about this.


Janine mentions the gaps in the arguments made by Hye-Won Han and Se-jin Song. These include the fact that Lara’s male mentors die in the game. This indicates for Janine that Lara is not a damsel-in-distress, like these authors argue.

Lara’s physical appearance

Janine explains how Lara Croft underwent a physical make-over in the reboot game. This includes a discussion of Lara’s body proportions and vitals, and her outfits.

In terms of new Lara’s outfits, Janine argues, she is not sexualised like old Lara was. Here, Janine discusses the physical and ludological changes made to the reboot trilogy outfits. Lara’s infamous golden bikini is mentioned here: “who would ever raid a tomb in a bikini?”.

Lara’s complexity

In this section Janine talks about how Lara went from being a flat character to a more complex one. Janine notes how and why old Lara is continually reinvented across media platforms.

She argues that the new Lara does not get reinvented because she is a more complex character.

Ludological changes

Janine first defines and explains the term “ludology”. She then goes on to explain the intricacies of the adventure video game genre.

In this discussion, Janine focuses on two newly-introduced Tomb Raider game modes. They are Endurance Mode and Lara’s Nightmare in Rise of the Tomb Raider.


Janine explains how these new game modes emphasise the new Lara’s vulnerability. She defines vulnerability and explains how Lara is now physically and mentally more vulnerable.

Here Janine also mentions the impact of the open-world maps in the reboot trilogy.

Realism in video games

Janine explains what realism in video games entails. She argues that Lara’s newly emphasised vulnerability makes her more realistic.

Janine quickly mentions the cons of the new Lara’s vulnerability as well.

Narratological changes

Janine wraps up by noting the changes made to Lara’s narrative in the reboot trilogy. For Janine, her new narrative limits her reinventions across media platforms. Her new narrative is also significant because it emphasises Lara’s relationship with her mother and not her father.


Janine concludes by thanking listeners.

Episode Credits


  • Janine Engelbrecht


  • Janine Engelbrecht

Small Print

The theme music is "Dashboard Light" by One Two Feet, and is licenced by Holosuite Media through Epidemic Sound.

This podcast is a fan production. All views made are that of the individual(s), and may not represent that of the podcast, or the Holosuite Media network.

The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
9. The New Lara Phenomenon