Behind the Scenes - An Interview With Lara's PR (1998)
- GameSpot.co.uk -
Susie Hamilton is Core-Design's Public Relations Manager, that means she's responsible for 'leaking' information to the press.
Core itself is ten years old this year. Owned by parent company, Eidos Interactive, Core's biggest hits have been the Tomb Raider games. Previous titles include Fighting Force and Thunderhawk.
In this exclusive interview Susie talks with GameSpot UK about Lara, the Tomb Raider movie, the future of Ms Croft and more...
Who came up with the idea of marketing Tomb Raider around the Lara character?
We had no idea that Lara would become such a superstar! When we first started to develop Tomb Raider we realised that we had a really good game on our hands, but had no idea about Lara's potential. We were initially dubious about using a female character in the lead role, but once we saw her on-screen we were all convinced that the way she looked and moved about was far more pleasing to the eye than some macho male character.
When the press reviewed the finished game and saw how Lara interacted with the environment, they became more and more interested in her and began to treat her like a real person! We found ourselves swamped with interview questions - questions that we had no idea how to answer! Once the game was released to the public, we also began to get rather a lot of fan-mail and requests, some of which were extremely strange...!
Once we realised that so many people out there were interested in Lara, we quickly had to put together a 'personality' for her. That's where the real marketing started to kick-in. Our lucky break came from The Face magazine - they heard about the success of the game, saw the character and decided that Lara would be the very thing to put on their front cover - this would be the first time that they had ever put a digital image on the cover.
Once The Face hit the shelves, the national press became very excited! Lara's name began to infiltrate areas other than the gaming world and the rest is history!
How much input will Core have if there's a Lara movie?
We will only sign a deal with a studio that allows us to have input into the actual plot. We have to protect Lara's personality and cannot allow her to be put in any compromising situations! It's really important that the movie portrays Lara in a way that doesn't devalue her character in the slightest. It's a bit tricky really!
Who would you like to see play Lara in a movie?
Someone like Liz Hurley would be pretty cool - she's got the right accent! Sandra Bullock could also be a good actress for the role, but to tell the truth it's really weird trying to imagine any human playing the part of Lara!
How many Lara models are there these days, will you ever go back to having just one person play Lara?
I don't think we would consider having a single model to represent Lara again - in the future we'll be using several models as and when we need them. To us, the digital character is the most important... and easier to control!
In which country is Lara most successful?
Difficult to say - she is huge in Europe, quite popular in the US and has enjoyed a larger than average success in Asia, considering the fact that European characters are not traditionally popular in this territory.
How many emails do you get from fans about Lara, and who answers them?
We have a constant stream of letters and e-mails, most of which are answered by myself, Vicky or our office manager, Sue.
Why did Tomb Raider II come out in America a week before the UK?
Simply because the US were able to manufacture their stock a lot quicker than we were!
Any Lara gossip?
Hmmm - the last thing I heard was that she was seen shopping in her local Sainsbury's - doesn't sound like much of an adventure to me!
Do you every get sick of all the attention Lara gets?
Not at all - it's easy to work with Lara. She never answers back or gets stroppy!
Has there been any Lara merchandise that Core have disapproved of and if so why?
There have been a couple of things that didn't turn out quite as we'd originally expected. We want to make sure that all the Lara merchandise is of a really high quality - that's one of the reasons why it's taking us a little longer to finalise an official range.
Can you tell us a bit about Core's plans for this year?
Our next release after Fighting Force PC will not happen until September - Ninja is a third person 3D action/adventure game which marks a return to arcade-style gameplay: fast action, simple puzzles and lots of power-ups and pick-ups. After Ninja... watch this space!
What other Lara projects are Core considering?
All I can say at the moment is, that, apart from the movie, we've got several exciting proposals that we're looking at very carefully. Unfortunately none of these are confirmed at the moment so I'm not at liberty to discuss them. Sorry!
Is Lara a feminist icon or just a lads fantasy?
Lara's obvious appeal is only too plain to see! We would never deny the fact that her physical appearance is one of her key assets, but what's also great about Lara is the fact that she's not just a pretty face. She's a no-nonsense, go-getter who won't let anything stand in her way.
She's also a bit of a dark horse: Nobody will ever get to know her as well as they'd like to - this is another part of her appeal. I think that there are a lot of women out there who see Lara as a positive character - this is because they've taken the time to play the game and to get to know what she's all about.
Obviously those who don't really know much about the game won't have had the opportunity to see that she really is a positive character, albeit not a real one!
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