Picture this: An extraordinary, pistol-wielding Latina archaeologist exploring uncharted lands and recovering ancient lost artifacts, potentially ending the world as we know it. Sounds like a pretty sweet character for a video game, doesn’t it? We almost had one.
Laura Cruz: The Latina Tomb Raider We Almost Had
In the early 90s, Tomb Raider creator Toby Grad made Laura Cruz for the Tomb Raider series. The comic book character Tank Girl, 90s rapper Neneh Cherry, and the John Woo movie Hard Boiled (1992) inspired Laura’s design. However, the higher-ups at Core Design (owned by Eidos Interactive) had other plans. They changed Laura Cruz to Lara Croft, making the adventure character more “British-Friendly.” She became an action-packed heroine with a high-class, English background.
What the heck is “British Friendly?” Is the existence of Latina characters unfriendly? Sure, Lara Croft made tons of money after releasing the first Tomb Raider in 1996, expanding to books and a multi-movie deal. Croft was named one of the sexiest characters in video game history. Would Laura Cruz have the same popularity? Which actress would have played her in the live-action movies? The gaming industry missed an incredible opportunity, diversity-wise.
The Latino Diversity Problem in the Gaming World
In one report, USC social psychologist and associate professor Dmitri Williams studied Latino gamers and the range of Hispanic-speaking characters. Williams concluded Latino players would not be interested in gaming development (and related fields) if there weren’t any representative characters. Think about what Laura Cruz would have done for the young Latino community, especially Latina gamers.
While the range of Latina characters is slowly rising in the gaming industry (and I mean slowly), many sources have pointed out they’re often stereotypical and hypersexualized. Plus, they often have a criminal background. For example, Overwatch’s Sombra is a brilliant hacker. However, she deals with the wrong side of the law (I think she’s still great, though). Someday, there will be Latina characters who finally break the stereotypes. They are surely marketable.
Although we have more diverse gaming characters now than in the 90s, it’s pretty upsetting to look back at the Laura Cruz, who would’ve been the Tomb Raider’s leading star. Someday, a gaming company will finally create the Latina adventurer we need to see. The gaming industry still has more work to do. They’re almost there.
Liked this post? Read: