as someone who's wasted count-less hours zombified in front of a television screen playing the game, it's hard even for me to figure out the astonishing crossover appeal of Tomb Raider.In the six years since the action adventure game and its seemingly endless string of sequels were launched, the Tomb Raider franchise, built around the twin revolvers and other, uh, assets of heroine Lara Croft, has sold close to 30 million copies.
The series turned the digitally well-endowed Croft into the first-ever video-game sex symbol and created a spinoff market huge enough to make George Lucas jealous.
Tomb Raider action figures and Croft posters are only the beginning. You can also purchase official Tomb Raider clothing -- hot pants, anyone? -- and, of course, now plunk down $10 to see the spectacularly awful Tomb Raider motion picture.
All this for a game that only rarely distinguishes itself from its shoot-'em-up competitors. You move through different worlds, swinging from vines, crawling through air ducts and hanging from rock faces, shooting everything in sight and watching your life outside your living room slip away. It's insanely addictive, but no more so than the equally numbing Syphon Filter series of time-wasters.
Tomb Raider's appeal, obviously, is Lara Croft. It probably would have been more entertaining to create an animated Tomb Raider movie, but that wouldn't have turned the geeky gamer boys on.
These are, you must remember, the fans who lurk in Tomb Raider chat rooms freakishly discussing Croft's digital breasts, and who created the infamous Nude Raider game in which Croft runs through her adventures sans clothes or in a G-string and has a side job starring in porn.
Of course, Croft and Tomb Raider's presence on the Web is massive, existing in every language and dedicated largely to obsessive fan sites and endless bits of background and biographical information. The fact that this is a video-game character rarely crosses people's minds, and like most pop culture obsessions, it's pretty much inexplicable.
Checking out the Tomb Raider fan sites below might not help you understand why this game has generated over a billion dollars in revenue, but they might make you feel better about your own life.
www.eidos.com The official site of the Tomb Raider manufacturers.
www.tombnews.com The Tomb Raider news channel. Rarely updated but loaded with pictures and tips.
www.tomb-raider.com Another fan site, stacked with tips, back-door cheats and eerie photos of Croft in suggestive loungewear.
www.laracroft.co.uk One of thousands of Croft sites where you can find vital information like her blood type, family background and why she likes trance music, plus links to discussions on Croft's "sexiest scenes."
www.larasanctuary.com A fan site dedicated to Lara "in all her splendour and beauty." You've got to be joking. @@@@@